Personal Friendships of Jesus BY J. R. MILLER, D. D.

Personal Friendships of Jesus BY J. R. MILLER, D. D.
AUTHOR OF “SILENT TIMES,” “MAKING THE MOST OF LIFE,”
“THINGS TO LIVE FOR,” “BLESSING OF CHEERFULNESS,” ETC.

One friend in that path shall be, To secure my steps from wrong; One to
count night day for me, Patient through the watches long, Serving most
with none to see. BROWNING.

New York
THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.
PUBLISHERS

COPYRIGHT, 1897,
BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY.
EIGHTH THOUSAND

PREFACE.

George MacDonald said in an address, “The longer I live, the more I am
assured that the business of life is to understand the Lord Christ.” If this be
true, whatever sheds even a little light on the character or life of Christ is
worth while.

Nothing reveals a man’s heart better than his friendships. The kind of friend
he is, tells the kind of man he is. The personal friendships of Jesus reveal
many tender and beautiful things in his character. They show us also what
is possible for us in divine friendship; for the heart of Jesus is the same
yesterday, and to-day, and forever.

These chapters are only suggestive, not exhaustive. If they make the way
into close personal friendship with Jesus any plainer for those who hunger
for such blessed intimacy, that will be reward enough.

J. R. M.

Personal Friendships of Jesus, by J. R. Miller

PHILADELPHIA.

CHAPTER

I.
THE HUMANHEARTEDNESS OF JESUS II. JESUS AND HIS
MOTHER III. JESUS AND HIS FORERUNNER IV. JESUS’
CONDITIONS OF FRIENDSHIP V. JESUS CHOOSING HIS FRIENDS

VI. JESUS AND THE BELOVED DISCIPLE VII. JESUS AND PETER
VIII. JESUS AND THOMAS IX. JESUS’ UNREQUITED FRIENDSHIPS
X. JESUS AND THE BETHANY SISTERS XI. JESUS COMFORTING
HIS FRIENDS XII. JESUS AND HIS SECRET FRIENDS XIII. JESUS’
FAREWELL TO HIS FRIENDS XIV. JESUS’ FRIENDSHIPS AFTER HE
AROSE XV. JESUS AS A FRIEND
All I could never be, All men ignored in me, This I was worth to God.
BROWNING.

But lead me, Man divine, Where’er Thou will’st, only that I may find At the
long journey’s end Thy image there, And grow more like to it. For art not
Thou The human shadow of the infinite Love That made and fills the
endless universe? The very Word of Him, the unseen, unknown, Eternal
Good that rules the summer flower And all the worlds that people starry
space. RICHARD WATSON GILDER.

THE FRIENDSHIPS OF JESUS.

CHAPTER I.

CHAPTER I.

THE HUMANHEARTEDNESS OF JESUS.

O God, O kinsman loved, but not enough, O man with eyes majestic after
death, Whose feet have toiled along our pathways rough, Whose lips drawn
human breath;

By that one likeness which is ours and thine, By that one nature which doth
hold us kin, By that high heaven where sinless thou dost shine, To draw us
sinners in;

By thy last silence in the judgment hall, By long foreknowledge of the
deadly tree, By darkness, by the wormwood and the gall, I pray thee visit
me. JEAN INGELOW.

There is a natural tendency to think of Jesus as different from other men in
the human element of his personality. Our adoration of him as our divine
Lord makes it seem almost sacrilege to place his humanity in the ordinary
rank with that of other men. It seems to us that life could not have meant
the same to him that it means to us. It is difficult for us to conceive of him
as learning in childhood as other children have to learn. We find ourselves
fancying that he must always have known how to read and write and speak.
We think of the experiences of his youth and young manhood as altogether
unlike those of any other boy or young man in the village where he grew
up. This same feeling leads us to think of his temptation as so different
from what temptation is to other men as to be really no temptation at all.

So we are apt to think of all the human life of Jesus as being in some way
lifted up out of the rank of ordinary experiences. We do not conceive of
him as having the same struggles that we have in meeting trial, in enduring
injury and wrong, in learning obedience, patience, meekness, submission,
trust, and cheerfulness. We conceive of his friendships as somehow
different from other men’s. We feel that in some mysterious way his human
life was supported and sustained by the deity that dwelt in him, and that he
was exempt from all ordinary limiting conditions of humanity.

CHAPTER I.

There is no doubt that with many people this feeling of reverence has been
in the way of the truest understanding of Jesus, and ofttimes those who
have clung most devoutly to a belief in his deity have missed much of the
comfort which comes from a proper comprehension of his humanity.

Yet the story of Jesus as told in the Gospels furnishes no ground for any
confusion on the subject of his human life. It represents him as subject to
all ordinary human conditions excepting sin. He began life as every infant
begins, in feebleness and ignorance; and there is no hint of any precocious
development. He learned as every child must learn. The lessons were not
gotten easily or without diligent study. He played as other boys did, and
with them. The more we think of the youth of Jesus as in no marked way
unlike that of those among whom he lived, the truer will our thought of him
be.

Millais the great artist, when he was a young man, painted an unusual
picture of Jesus. He represented him as a little boy in the home at Nazareth.
He has cut his finger on some carpenter’s tool, and comes to his mother to
have it bound up. The picture is really one of the truest of all the many
pictures of Jesus, because it depicts just such a scene as ofttimes may have
been witnessed in his youth. Evidently there was nothing in his life in
Nazareth that drew the attention of his companions and neighbors to him in
any striking way. We know that he wrought no miracles until after he had
entered upon his public ministry. We can think of him as living a life of
unselfishness and kindness. There was never any sin or fault in him; he
always kept the law of God perfectly. But his perfection was not something
startling. There was no halo about his head, no transfiguration, that awed
men. We are told that he grew in favor with men as well as with God. His
religion made his life beautiful and winning, but always so simple and
natural that it drew no unusual attention to itself. It was richly and ideally
human.

So it was unto the end. Through the years of his public ministry, when his
words and works burned with divine revealing, he continued to live an
altogether natural human life. He ate and drank; he grew weary and faint;
he was tempted in all points like as we are, and suffered, being tempted. He

CHAPTER I.

learned obedience by the things that he endured. He hungered and thirsted,
never ministering with his divine power to any of his own needs. “In all
things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.”

In nothing else is this truth more clearly shown than in the
humanheartedness which was so striking a feature of the life of Jesus
among men. When we think of him as the Son of God, the question arises,
Did he really care for personal friendships with men and women of the
human family? In the home from which he came he had dwelt from all
eternity in the bosom of the Father, and had enjoyed the companionship of
the highest angels. What could he find in this world of imperfect, sinful
beings to meet the cravings of his heart for fellowship? Whom could he
find among earth’s sinful creatures worthy of his friendship, or capable of
being in any real sense his personal friend? What satisfaction could his
heart find in this world’s deepest and holiest love? What light can a dim
candle give to the sun? Does the great ocean need the little dewdrop that
hides in the bosom of the rose? What blessing or inspiration of love can any
poor, marred, stained life give to the soul of the Christ?

Yet the Gospels abound with evidences that Jesus did crave human love,
that he found sweet comfort in the friendships which he made, and that
much of his keenest suffering was caused by failures in the love of those
who ought to have been true to him as his friends. He craved affection, and
even among the weak and faulty men and women about him made many
very sacred attachments from which he drew strength and comfort.

We must distinguish between Christ’s love for all men and his friendship
for particular individuals. He was in the world to reveal the Father, and all
the divine compassion for sinners was in his heart. It was this mighty love
that brought him to earth on the mission of redemption. It was this that
impelled and constrained him in all his seeking of the lost. He had come to
be the Saviour of all who would believe and follow him. Therefore he was
interested in every merest fragment or shred of life. No human soul was so
debased that he did not love it.

CHAPTER I.

But besides this universal divine love revealed in the heart of Jesus, he had
his personal human friendships. A philanthropist may give his whole life to
the good of his fellow-men, to their uplifting, their advancement, their
education; to the liberation of the enslaved; to work among and in behalf of
the poor, the sick, or the fallen. All suffering humanity has its interest for
him, and makes appeal to his compassion. Yet amid the world of those
whom he thus loves and wishes to help, this man will have his personal
friends; and through the story of his life will run the golden threads of
sweet companionships and friendships whose benedictions and inspirations
will be secrets of strength, cheer, and help to him in all his toil in behalf of
others.

Jesus gave all his rich and blessed life to the service of love. Power was
ever going out from him to heal, to comfort, to cheer, to save. He was
continually emptying out from the full fountain of his own heart cupfuls of
rich life to reinvigorate other lives in their faintness and exhaustion. One of
the sources of his own renewing and replenishing was in the friendships he
had among men and women. What friends are to us in our human hunger
and need, the friends of Jesus were to him. He craved companionship, and
was sorely hurt when men shut their doors in his face.

There are few more pathetic words in the New Testament than that short
sentence which tells of his rejection, “He came unto his own, and his own
received him not.” Another pathetic word is that which describes the
neglect of those who ought to have been ever eager to show him
hospitality: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but
the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Even the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heaven had warmer welcome in this world than he in
whose heart was the most gentle love that earth ever knew.

Another word which reveals the deep hunger of the heart of Jesus for
friendship and companionship was spoken in view of the hour when even
his own apostles would leave him: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now
come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me
alone.” The experience of the garden of Gethsemane also shows in a
wonderful way the Lord’s craving for sympathy. In his great sorrow he

CHAPTER I.

wished to have his best friends near him, that he might lean on them, and
draw from their love a little strength for his hour of bitter need. It was an
added element in the sorrow of that night that he failed to get the help from
human sympathy which he yearned for and expected. When he came back
each time after his supplication, he found his apostles sleeping.

These are some of the glimpses which we get in the Gospel story of the
longing heart of Jesus. He loved deeply, and sought to be loved. He was
disappointed when he failed to find affection. He welcomed love wherever
it came to him,–the love of the poor, the gratitude of those whom he had
helped, the trusting affection of little children. We can never know how
much the friendship of the beloved disciple was to Jesus. What a shelter
and comfort the Bethany home was to him, and how his strength was
renewed by its sweet fellowship! How even the smallest kindnesses were a
solace to his heart! How he was comforted by the affection and the
ministries of the women-friends who followed him!

In the chapters of this book which follow, the attempt is made to tell the
story of some of the friendships of Jesus, gathering up the threads from the
Gospel pages. Sometimes the material is abundant, as in the case of Peter
and John; sometimes we have only a glimpse or two in the record, albeit
enough to reveal a warm and tender friendship, as in the case of the
Bethany sisters, and of Andrew, and of Joseph. It may do us good to study
these friendship stories. It will at least show us the humanheartedness of
Jesus, and his method in blessing and saving the world. The central fact in
every true Christian life is a personal friendship with Jesus. Men were
called to follow him, to leave all and cleave to him, to believe on him, to
trust him, to love him, to obey him; and the result was the transformation of
their lives into his own beauty. That which alone makes one a Christian is
being a friend of Jesus. Friendship transforms–all human friendship
transforms. We become like those with whom we live in close, intimate
relations. Life flows into life, heart and heart are knit together, spirits blend,
and the two friends become one.

We have but little to give to Christ; yet it is a comfort to know that our
friendship really is precious to him, and adds to his joy, poor and meagre

CHAPTER I.

though its best may be–but he has infinite blessings to give to us. “I call
you friends.” No other gift he gives to us can equal in value the love and
friendship of his heart. When Cyrus gave Artabazus, one of his courtiers, a
gold cup, he gave Chrysanthus, his favorite, only a kiss. And Artabazus
said to Cyrus, “The cup you gave me was not so good gold as the kiss you
gave Chrysanthus.” No good man’s money is ever worth so much as his
love. Certainly the greatest honor of this earth, greater than rank or station
or wealth, is the friendship of Jesus Christ. And this honor is within the
reach of every one. “Henceforth I call you not servants … I have called you
friends.” “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

The stories of the friendships of Jesus when he was on the earth need cause
no one to sigh, “I wish that I had lived in those days, when Jesus lived
among men, that I might have been his friend too, feeling the warmth of his
love, my life enriched by contact with his, and my spirit quickened by his
love and grace!” The friendships of Jesus, whose stories we read in the
New Testament, are only patterns of friendships into which we may enter,
if we are ready to accept what he offers, and to consecrate our life to
faithfulness and love.

The friendship of Jesus includes all other blessings for time and for
eternity. “All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s.” His friendship sanctifies
all pure human bonds–no friendship is complete which is not woven of a
threefold cord. If Christ is our friend, all life is made rich and beautiful to
us. The past, with all of sacred loss it holds, lives before us in him. The
future is a garden-spot in which all life’s sweet hopes, that seem to have
perished on the earth, will be found growing for us.

“Fields of the past to thee shall be no more The burialground of friendships
once in bloom, But the seed-plots of a harvest on before, And prophecies of
life with larger room For things that are behind.

Live thou in Christ, and thy dead past shall be Alive forever with eternal
day; And planted on his bosom thou shall see The flowers revived that
withered on the way Amid the things behind.”

CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER II.

JESUS AND HIS MOTHER.

Sleep, sleep, mine Holy One! My flesh, my Lord!–what name? I do not
know A name that seemeth not too high or low, Too far from me or heaven.
My Jesus, that is best! * * * Sleep, sleep, my saving One. MRS.
BROWNING.

The first friend a child has in this world is its mother. It comes here an utter
stranger, knowing no one; but it finds love waiting for it. Instantly the little
stranger has a friend, a bosom to nestle in, an arm to encircle it, a hand to
minister to its helplessness. Love is born with the child. The mother presses
it to her breast, and at once her heart’s tendrils twine about it.

It is a good while before the child becomes conscious of the wondrous love
that is bending over it, yet all the time the love is growing in depth and
tenderness. In a thousand ways, by a thousand delicate arts, the mother
seeks to waken in her child a response to her own yearning love. At length
the first gleams of answering affection appear–the child has begun to love.
From that hour the holy friendship grows. The two lives become knit in
one.

When God would give the world a great man, a man of rare spirit and
transcendent power, a man with a lofty mission, he first prepares a woman
to be his mother. Whenever in history we come upon such a man, we
instinctively begin to ask about the character of her on whose bosom he
nestled in infancy, and at whose knee he learned his life’s first lessons. We
are sure of finding here the secret of the man’s greatness. When the time
drew nigh for the incarnation of the Son of God, we may be sure that into
the soul of the woman who should be his mother, who should impart her
own life to him, who should teach him his first lessons, and prepare him for
his holy mission, God put the loveliest and the best qualities that ever were
lodged in any woman’s life. We need not accept the teaching that exalts the
mother of Jesus to a place beside or above her divine Son. We need have no
sympathy whatever with the dogma that ascribes worship to the Virgin

CHAPTER II.

Mary, and teaches that the Son on his throne must be approached by
mortals through his more merciful, more gentle-hearted mother. But we
need not let these errors concerning Mary obscure the real blessedness of
her character. We remember the angel’s greeting, “Blessed art thou among
women.” Hers surely was the highest honor ever conferred upon any
woman.

“Say of me as the Heavenly said, ‘Thou art The blessedest of
women!’–blessedest, Not holiest, not noblest,–no high name, Whose height
misplaced may pierce me like a shame, When I sit meek in heaven!”

We know how other men, men of genius, rarely ever have failed to give to
their mothers the honor of whatever of greatness or worth they had attained.
But somehow we shrink from saying that Jesus was influenced by his
mother as other good men have been; that he got from her much of the
beauty and the power of his life. We are apt to fancy that his mother was
not to him what mothers ordinarily are to their children; that he did not
need mothering as other children do; that by reason of the Deity indwelling,
his character unfolded from within, without the aid of home teaching and
training, and the other educational influences which do so much in shaping
the character of children in common homes.

But there is no Scriptural ground for this feeling. The humanity of Jesus
was just like our humanity. He came into the world just as feeble and as
untaught as any other child that ever was born. No mother was ever more to
her infant than Mary was to Jesus. She taught him all his first lessons. She
gave him his first thoughts about God, and from her lips he learned the first
lispings of prayer. Jewish mothers cared very tenderly for their children.
They taught them with unwearying patience the words of God. One of the
rabbis said, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made
mothers.” This saying shows how sacred was the Jewish thought of the
mother’s work for her child.

Every true mother feels a sense of awe in her soul when she bends over her
own infant child; but in the case of Mary we may be sure that the awe was
unusual, because of the mystery of the child’s birth. In the annunciation the

CHAPTER II.

angel had said to her, “That which is to be born shall be called holy, the
Son of God.” Then the night of her child’s birth there was a wondrous
vision of angels, and the shepherds who beheld it hastened into the town;
and as they looked upon the baby in the manger, they told the wondering
mother what they had seen and heard. We are told that Mary kept all these
things, pondering them in her heart. While she could not understand what
all this meant, she knew at least that hers was no common child; that in
some wonderful sense he was the Son of God.

This consciousness must have given to her motherhood an unusual
thoughtfulness and seriousness. How close to God she must have lived!
How deep and tender her love must have been! How pure and clean her
heart must have been kept! How sweet and patient she must have been as
she moved about at her tasks, in order that no harsh or bitter thought or
feeling might ever cast a shadow upon the holy life which had been
intrusted to her for training and moulding.

Only a few times is the veil lifted to give us a glimpse of mother and child.
On the fortieth day he was taken to the temple, and given to God. Then it
was that another reminder of the glory of this child was given to the
mother. An old man, Simeon, took the infant in his arms, and spoke of him
as God’s salvation. As he gave the parents his parting blessing he lifted the
veil, and showed them a glimmering of the future. “This child is set for the
fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken
against.” Then to the mother he said solemnly, “Yea, a sword shall pierce
through thine own soul also.” This was a foretelling of the sorrow which
should come to the heart of Mary, and which came again and again, until at
last she saw her son on a cross. The shadow of the cross rested on Mary’s
soul all the years. Every time she rocked her baby to sleep, and laid him
down softly, covering his face with kisses, there would come into her heart
a pang as she remembered Simeon’s words. Perhaps, too, words from the
old prophets would come into her mind,–“He is despised and rejected of
men; a man of sorrows;” “He was bruised for our iniquities,”–and the tears
would come welling into her eyes. Every time she saw her child at play,
full of gladness, all unconscious of any sorrow awaiting him, a nameless
fear would steal over her as she remembered the ominous words which had

CHAPTER II.

fallen upon her ear, and which she could not forget.

Soon after the presentation in the temple came the visit of the magi. Again
the mother must have wondered as she heard these strangers from the East
speak of her infant boy as the “King of the Jews,” and saw them falling
down before him in reverent worship, and then laying their offerings at his
feet. Immediately following this came the flight into Egypt. How the
mother must have pressed her child to her bosom as she fled with him to
escape the cruel danger! By and by they returned, and from that time
Nazareth was their home.

Only once in the thirty years do we have a glimpse of mother and child. It
was when Jesus went to his first Passover. When the time came for
returning home the child tarried behind. After a painful search the mother
found him in one of the porches of the temple, sitting with the rabbis, an
eager learner. There is a tone of reproach in her words, “Son, why hast thou
thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”
She was sorely perplexed. All the years before this her son had implicitly
obeyed her. He had never resisted her will, never withdrawn from her
guidance. Now he had done something without asking her about it–as it
were, had taken his life into his own hand. It was a critical point in the
friendship of this mother and her child. It is a critical moment in the
friendship of any mother and her child when the child begins to think and
act for himself, to do things without the mother’s guidance.

The answer of Jesus is instructive: “I must be about my Father’s business.”
There was another besides his mother to whom he owed allegiance. He was
the Son of God as well as the son of Mary. Parents should remember this
always in dealing with their children,–their children are more God’s than
theirs.

It is interesting to notice what follows that remarkable experience of mother
and child in the temple. Jesus returned with his mother to the lowly
Nazareth home, and was subject to her. In recognizing his relation to God
as his heavenly Father, he did not become any less the child of his earthly
mother. He loved his mother no less because he loved God more.

CHAPTER II.

Obedience to the Father in heaven did not lead him to reject the rule of
earthly parenthood. He went back to the quiet home, and for eighteen years
longer found his Father’s business in the common round of lowly tasks
which made up the daily life of such a home.

It would be intensely interesting to read the story of mother and son during
those years, but it has not been written for us. They must have been years of
wondrous beauty. Few things in this world are more beautiful than such
friendships as one sometimes sees between mother and son. The boy is
more the lover than the child. The two enter into the closest
companionship. A sacred and inviolable intimacy is formed between them.
The boy opens all his heart to his mother, telling her everything; and she,
happy woman, knows how to be a boy’s mother and to keep a mother’s
place without ever startling or checking the shy confidences, or causing
him to desire to hide anything from her. The boy whispers his inmost
thoughts to his mother, and listens to her wise and gentle counsels with
loving eagerness and childish faith-

“Her face his holy skies; The air he breathes his mother’s breath, His stars
his mother’s eyes.”

Not always are mother and boy such friends. Some mothers do not think it
worth while to give the time and thought necessary to enter into a boy’s life
in such confidential way. But we may be sure that between the mother of
Jesus and her son the most tender and intimate friendship existed. He
opened his soul to her; and she gave him not a mother’s love only, but also
a mother’s wise counsel and strong, inspiring sympathy.

It is almost certain that sorrow entered the Nazareth home soon after the
visit to Jerusalem. Joseph is not mentioned again; and it is supposed that he
died, leaving Mary a widow. On Jesus, as the eldest son, the care of the
mother now rested. Knowing the deep love of his heart and his wondrous
gentleness, it is easy for us to understand with what unselfish devotion he
cared for his mother after she was widowed. He had learned the carpenter’s
trade; and day after day, early and late, he wrought with his hands to
provide for her wants. Very sacred must have been the friendship of mother

CHAPTER II.

and son in those days. Her gentleness, quietness, hopefulness, humility, and
prayerfulness, must have wrought themselves into the very tissue of his
character as he moved through the days in such closeness. Unto the end he
carried in his soul the benedictions of his mother’s life.

The thirty silent years of preparation closed, and Jesus went out to begin his
public ministry. The first glimpse we have of the mother is at the wedding
at Cana. Jesus was there too. The wine failed, and Mary went to Jesus about
the matter. “They have no wine,” she said. Evidently she was expecting
some manifesting of supernatural power. All the years since his birth she
had been carrying in her heart a great wonder of expectation. Now he had
been baptized, and had entered upon his work as the Messiah. Had not the
time come for miracle-working?

The answer of Jesus startles us: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?
mine hour is not yet come.” The words seem to have in them a tone of
reproof, or of repulse, unlike the words of so gentle and loving a son. But
really there is in his reply nothing inconsistent with all that we have learned
to think of the gentleness and lovingness of the heart of Jesus. In substance
he said only that he must wait for his Father’s word before doing any
miracle, and that the time for this had not yet come. Evidently his mother
understood him. She was not hurt by his words, nor did she regard them as
a refusal to help in the emergency. Her words to the servants show this:
“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” She had learned her lesson of sweet
humility. She knew now that God had the highest claim on her son’s
obedience, and she quietly waited for the divine voice. The holy friendship
was not marred.

There is another long period in which no mention is made of Mary.
Probably she lived a secluded life. But one day at Capernaum, in the midst
of his popularity, when Jesus was preaching to a great crowd, she and his
brothers appeared on the outside of the throng, and sent a request that they
might speak with him. It seems almost certain that the mother’s errand was
to try to get him away from his exhausting work; he was imperilling his
health and his safety. Jesus refused to be interrupted. But it was really only
an assertion that nothing must come between him and his duty. The Father’s

CHAPTER II.

business always comes first. Human ties are second to the bond which
binds us to God. No dishonor was done by Jesus to his mother in refusing
to be drawn away by her loving interest from his work. The holiest human
friendship must never keep us from doing the will of God. Other mothers in
their love for their children have made the same mistake that the mother of
Jesus made,–have tried to withhold or withdraw their children from service
which seemed too hard or too costly. The voice of tenderest love must be
quenched when it would keep us from doing God’s will.

The next mention of the mother of Jesus is in the story of the cross. Ah,
holy mother-love, constant and faithful to the end! At length Simeon’s
prophecy is fulfilled,–a sword is piercing the mother’s soul also. “Jesus was
crucified on the cross; Mary was crucified at the foot of the cross.”

Note only one feature of the scene,–the mother-love there is in it. The story
of clinging mother-love is a wonderful one. A mother never forsakes her
child. Mary is not the only mother who has followed a son to a cross. Here
we have the culmination of this mother’s friendship for her son. She is
watching beside his cross. O friendship constant, faithful, undying, and
true!

But what of the friendship of the dying son for his mother? In his own
anguish does he notice her? Yes; one of the seven words spoken while he
hung on the cross told of changeless love in his heart for her. Mary was a
woman of more than fifty, “with years before her too many for
remembering, too few for forgetting.” The world would be desolate for her
when her son was gone. So he made provision for her in the shelter of a
love in which he knew she would be safe. As he saw her led away by the
beloved disciple to his own home, part of the pain of dying was gone from
his own heart. His mother would have tender care.

The story of this blessed friendship should sweeten forever in Christian
homes the relation of mother and child. It should make every mother a
better woman and a better mother. It should make every child a truer, holier
child. Every home should have its sacred friendships between parents and
children. Thus something of heaven will be brought down to our dull earth;

CHAPTER II.

for, as Mrs. Browning says,-In
the pure loves of child and mother Two human loves make one divine.

CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER III.

JESUS AND HIS FORERUNNER.

Where is the lore the Baptist taught, The soul unswerving and the fearless
tongue? The much-enduring wisdom, sought By lonely prayer the haunted
rocks among? Who counts it gain His light should wane, So the whole
world to Jesus throng? KEBLE.

The two Johns appear in many devotional pictures, one on each side of
Jesus. Yet the two men were vastly unlike. The Baptist was a wild, rugged
man of the desert; the apostle was the representative of the highest type of
gentleness and spiritual refinement. The former was the consummate
flower of Old Testament prophecy; the latter was the ripe fruit of New
Testament evangelism. They appear in history one really on each side of
Jesus; one going before him to prepare the way for him, and the other
coming after him to declare the meaning of his mission. They were united
in Jesus; both of them were his friends.

It seems probable that Jesus and the Baptist had never met until the day
Jesus came to be baptized. This is not to be wondered at. Their childhood
homes were not near to each other. Besides, John probably turned away at
an early age from the abodes of men to make his home in the desert. He
may never have visited Jesus, and it is not unlikely that Jesus had never
visited him.

Yet their mothers are said to have been cousins. The stories of their births
are woven together in an exquisite way, in the opening chapters of the
Gospels. To the same high angel fell the privilege of announcing to the two
women, in turn, the tidings which in each case meant so much of honor and
blessedness. It would have seemed natural for the boys to grow up together,
their lives blending in childhood association and affection. It is interesting
to think what the effect would have been upon the characters of both if they
had been reared in close companionship. How would John’s stern, rugged,
unsocial nature have affected the gentle spirit of Jesus? What impression
would the brightness, sweetness, and affectionateness of Jesus have made

CHAPTER III.

on the temper and disposition of John?

When at last the two men met, it is evident that a remarkable effect was
produced on John. There was something in the face of Jesus that almost
overpowered the fearless preacher of the desert. John had been waiting and
watching for the Coming One, whose herald and harbinger he was. One day
he came and asked to be baptized. John had never before hesitated to
administer the rite to any one who stood before him; for in every one he
saw a sinner needing repentance and remission of sins. But he who now
stood before him waiting to be baptized bore upon his face the light of an
inner holiness which awed the rugged preacher. “I have need to be baptized
of thee,” said John; but Jesus insisted, and the rite was administered. John’s
awe must have been deepened by what now took place. Jesus looked up in
earnest prayer, and then from the open heaven a white dove descended,
resting on the head of the Holy One. An ancient legend tells that from the
shining light the whole valley of the Jordan was illuminated. A divine voice
was heard also, declaring that this Jesus was the Son of God.

Thus it was that the friendship between Jesus and the Baptist began. It was
a wonderful moment. For centuries prophets had been pointing forward to
the Messiah who was to come; now John saw him. He had baptized him,
thus introducing him to his great mission. This made John the greatest of
the prophets; he saw the Messiah whom his predecessors had only foretold.
John’s rugged nature must have been wondrously softened by this meeting
with Jesus.

Brief was the duration of the friendship of the forerunner and the Messiah;
but there are evidences that it was strong, deep, and true. There were
several occasions on which this friendship proved its sincerity and its
loyalty.

Reports of the preaching of John, and of the throngs who were flocking to
him, reached Jerusalem; and a deputation was sent by the Sanhedrin to the
desert to ask him who he was. They had begun to think that this man who
was attracting such attention might be the Messiah for whom they were
looking. But John was careful to say that he was not the Christ. “Art thou

CHAPTER III.

Elias? … Art thou that prophet?” He answered “No.”–“Who art thou, then?”
they asked, “that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest
thou of thyself?”

This gave John an opportunity to claim the highest honor for himself if he
had been disposed to do so. He might have admitted that he was the
Messiah, or quietly permitted the impression to be cherished; and in the
state of feeling and expectation then prevailing among the people, there
would have been a great uprising to carry him to a throne. But his loyalty to
truth and to the Messiah whose forerunner he was, was so strong that he
firmly resisted the opportunity, with whatever of temptation it may have
had for him. “I am a voice,” he answered–nothing but a voice. Thus he
showed an element of greatness in his lowly estimate of himself.

True, a voice may do great things. It may speak words which shall ring
through the world with a blessing in every reverberation. It may arouse men
to action, may comfort sorrow, cheer discouragement, start hope in
despairing hearts. If one is only a voice, and if there be truth and love and
life in the voice, its ministry may be rich in its influence.

Much of the Bible is but a voice coming out of the depths of the past. No
one knows the names of all the holy men who, moved by the Spirit, wrote
the wonderful words. Many of the sweetest of the Psalms are anonymous.
Yet no one prizes the words less, nor is their power to comfort, cheer,
inspire, or quicken any less, because they are only voices. After all, it is a
great thing to be a voice to which men and women will listen, and whose
words do good wherever they go.

Yet John’s speaking thus of himself shows his humility. He sought no
earthly praise or recognition. He was not eager to have his name sounding
on people’s lips. He knew well how empty such honor was. He wished only
that he might be a voice, speaking out the word he had been sent into the
world to speak. He knew that he had a message to deliver, and he was
intent on delivering it. It mattered not who or what he was, but it did matter
whether his “word or two” were spoken faithfully or not.

CHAPTER III.

Every one of us has a message from God to men. We are in this world for a
purpose, with a mission, with something definite to do for God and man. It
makes very little difference whether people hear about us or not, whether
we are praised, loved, and honored, or despised, hated, and rejected, so that
we get our word spoken into the air, and set going in men’s hearts and lives.
John was a worthy voice, and his tones rang out with clarion clearness for
truth and for God’s kingdom. It was his mission to go in advance of the
King, and tell men that he was coming, calling them to prepare the way
before him. This he did; and when the King came, John’s work was done.

The deputation asked him also why he was baptizing if he was neither the
Christ nor Elijah. Again John honored his friend by saying, “I baptize with
water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who
coming after me is preferred be fore me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not
worthy to unloose.” John set the pattern for friendship for Christ for all
time. It is,-

“None of self, and all of thee.”

It is pitiable to see how some among the Master’s followers fail to learn this
lesson. They contend for high places, where they may have prominence
among men, where their names shall have honor. The only truly great in
Christ’s sight are those who forget self that they may honor their Lord. John
said he was not worthy to unloose the shoe-latchet of his friend, so great, so
kingly, so worthy was that friend. He said his own work was only external,
while the One standing unrecognized among the people had power to reach
their hearts. It were well if every follower of Christ understood so perfectly
the place of his own work with relation to Christ’s.

Another of John’s testimonies to Jesus was made a little later, perhaps as
Jesus returned after his temptation. Pointing to a young man who was
approaching, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin
of the world.” It was a high honor which in these words John gave to his
friend. That friend was the bearer of the world’s sin and of its sorrow. It is
not likely that at this early stage John knew of the cross on which Jesus
should die for the world. In some way, however, he saw a vision of Jesus

CHAPTER III.

saving his people from their sin, and so proclaimed him to the circle that
stood round him. He proclaimed him also as the Son of God, thus adding
yet another honor to his friend.

A day or two later John again pointed Jesus out to two of his own disciples
as the Lamb of God, and then bade them leave him and go after the
Messiah. This is another mark of John’s noble friendship for Jesus,–he gave
up his own disciples that they might go after the new Master. It is not easy
to do this. It takes a brave man to send his friends away, that they may give
their love and service to another master.

There is further illustration of John’s loyal friendship for Jesus. It seems
that John’s disciples were somewhat jealous of the growing fame and
influence of Jesus. The throngs that followed their master were now turning
after the new teacher. In their great love for John, and remembering how he
had witnessed for Jesus, and called attention to him, before he began his
ministry and after, they felt that it was scarcely right that Jesus should rise
to prosperity at the expense of him who had so helped him rise. If John had
been less noble than he was, and his friendship for Jesus less loyal, such
words from his followers would have embittered him. There are people
who do irreparable hurt by such flattering sympathy. A spark of envy is
often fanned into a disastrous flame by friends who come with such appeals
to the evil that is in every man.

But John’s answer shows a soul of wondrous nobleness. He had not been
hurt by popularity, as so many men are. Not all good people pass through
times of great success, with its attendant elation and adulation, and come
out simple-hearted and lowly. Then even a severer test of character is the
time of waning favor, when the crowds melt away, and when another is
receiving the applause. Many a man, in such an experience, fails to retain
sweetness of spirit, and becomes soured and embittered.

John stood both tests. Popularity did not make him vain. The losing of his
fame did not embitter him. He kept humble and sweet through it all. The
secret was his unwavering loyalty to his own mission as the harbinger of
the Messiah. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from

CHAPTER III.

heaven,” he said. The power over men which he had wielded for a time had
been given to him. Now the power had been withdrawn, and given to Jesus.
It was all right, and he should not complain of what Heaven had done.

Then John reminded his friends that he had distinctly said that he was not
the Christ, but was only one sent before him. In a wondrously expressive
way he explained his relation to Jesus. Jesus was the bridegroom, and John
was only the bridegroom’s friend, and he rejoiced in the bridegroom’s
honor. It was meet that the bridegroom should have the honor, and that his
friend should retire into the background, and there be forgotten. Thus John
showed his loyalty to Jesus by rejoicing in his popular favor, when the
effect was to leave John himself deserted and alone after a season of great
fame. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” said the noble-hearted
forerunner. John’s work was done, and the work of Jesus was now
beginning. John understood this, and with devoted loyalty, unsurpassed in
all the bright story of friendship, he rejoiced in the success that Jesus was
winning, though it was at his own cost.

This is a model of noble friendship for all time. Envy poisons much human
friendship. It is not easy to work loyally for the honor and advancement of
another when he is taking our place, and drawing our crowds after him. But
in any circumstances envy is despicable and most undivine. Then even in
our friendship for Christ we need to be ever most watchful lest we allow
self to creep in. We must learn to care only for his honor and the
advancement of his kingdom, and never to think of ourselves.

So much for the friendship of John for Jesus. On several occasions we find
evidences of very warm friendship in Jesus for John. John’s imprisonment
was a most pathetic episode in his life. It came from his fidelity as a
preacher of righteousness. In view of all the circumstances, we can scarcely
wonder that in his dreary prison he began almost to doubt, certainly to
question, whether Jesus were indeed the Messiah. But it must be noted that
even in this painful experience John was loyal to Jesus. When the question
arose in his mind, he sent directly to Jesus to have it answered. If only all in
whose minds spiritual doubts or questions arise would do this, good, and
not evil, would result in every case; for Christ always knows how to

CHAPTER III.

reassure perplexed faith.

It was after the visit of the messengers from John that Jesus spoke the
strong words which showed his warm friendship for his forerunner. John
had not forfeited his place in the Master’s heart by his temporary doubting.
Jesus knew that his disciples might think disparagingly of John because he
had sent the messengers with the question; and as soon as they were gone
he began to speak about John, and to speak about him in terms of highest
praise. It is an evidence of true friendship that one speaks well of one’s
friend behind his back. Some professed friendship will not stand this test.
But Jesus spoke not a word of censure concerning John after the failure of
his faith. On the other hand, he eulogized him in a most remarkable way.
He spoke of his stability and firmness; John was not a reed shaken with the
wind, he was not a self-indulgent man, courting ease and loving luxury; he
was a man ready for any self-denial and hardship. Jesus added to this
eulogy of John’s qualities as a man, the statement that no greater soul than
his had ever been born in this world. This was high praise indeed. It
illustrates the loyalty of Jesus to the friend who had so honored him and
was suffering now because of faithfulness to truth and duty.

There is another incident which shows how much Jesus loved John. It was
after the foul murder of the Baptist. The record is very brief. The friends of
the dead prophet gathered in the prison, and, taking up the headless body of
their master, they carried it away to a reverent, tearful burial. Then they
went and told Jesus. The narrative says, “When Jesus heard of it, he
departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.” His sorrow at the tragic
death of his faithful friend made him wish to be alone. When the Jews saw
Jesus weeping beside the grave of Lazarus they said, “Behold how he loved
him!” No mention is made of tears when Jesus heard of the death of John;
but he immediately sought to break away from the crowds, to be alone, and
there is little doubt that when he was alone he wept. He loved John, and
grieved over his death.

The story of the friendship of Jesus and John is very beautiful. John’s
loyalty and faithfulness must have brought real comfort to Jesus. Then to
John the friendship of Jesus must have been full of cheer.

CHAPTER III.

As we read the story of the Baptist’s life, with its tragic ending, we are apt
to feel that he died too soon. He began his public work with every promise
of success. For a few months he preached with great power, and thousands
flocked to hear him. Then came the waning of his popularity, and soon he
was shut up in a prison, and in a little while was cruelly murdered to humor
the whim of a wicked and vengeful woman.

Was it worth while to be born, and to go through years of severe training,
only for such a fragment of living? To this question we can answer only
that John had finished his work. He came into the world–a man sent from
God–to do just one definite thing,–to prepare the way for the Messiah.
When the Messiah had come, John’s work was done. As the friend of Christ
he went home; and elsewhere now, in other realms perhaps, he is still
serving his Lord.

CHAPTER IV.

CHAPTER IV.

JESUS’ CONDITIONS OF FRIENDSHIP.

But if himself he come to thee, and stand * * * And reach to thee himself
the Holy Cup, * * * Pallid and royal, saying, “Drink with me,” Wilt thou
refuse? Nay, not for paradise! The pale brow will compel thee, the pure
hands Will minister unto thee; thou shalt take Of that communion through
the solemn depths Of the dark waters of thine agony, With heart that
praises him, that yearns to him The closer through that hour. Ugo Bassi’s
Sermon.

Every thoughtful reader of the Gospels notes two seemingly opposing
characteristics of Christ’s invitations,–their wideness and their narrowness.
They were broad enough to include all men; yet by their conditions they
were so narrowed down that only a few seemed able to accept them.

The gospel was for the world. It was as broad as the love of God, and that is
absolutely without limit. God loved the world. When Jesus went forth
among men his heart was open to all. He was the patron of no particular
class. For him there were no outcasts whom he might not touch, with whom
he might not speak in public, or privately, or who were excluded from the
privileges of friendship with him. He spoke of himself as the Son of
man–not the son of a man, but the Son of man, and therefore the brother of
every man. Whoever bore the image of humanity had a place in his heart.
Wherever he found a human need it had an instant claim on his sympathy,
and he was eager to impart a blessing. No man had fallen so low in sin that
Jesus passed him by without love and compassion. To be a man was the
passport to his heart.

The invitations which Jesus gave all bear the stamp of this exceeding
broadness. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest.” “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “If any
man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Such words as these were
ever falling from his lips. No man or woman, hearing these invitations,
could ever say, “There is nothing there for me.” There was no hint of

CHAPTER IV.

possible exclusion for any one. Not a word was ever said about any
particular class of persons who might come,–the righteous, the respectable,
the cultured, the unsoiled, the well-born, the well-to-do. Jesus had no such
words in his vocabulary. Whoever labored and was heavy laden was
invited. Whoever would come should be received–would not in any wise
be cast out. Whoever was athirst was bidden to come and drink.

Some teachers are not so good as their teachings. They proclaim the love of
God for every man, and then make distinctions in their treatment of men.
Professing love for all, they gather their skirts close about them when fallen
ones pass by. But Jesus lived out all of the love of God that he taught. It
was literally true in his case, that not one who came to him was ever cast
out. He disregarded the proprieties of righteousness which the religious
teachers of his own people had formulated and fixed. They read in the
synagogue services, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” but they
limited the word neighbor until it included only the circle of the socially
and spiritually élite. Jesus taught that a man’s neighbor is a fellow-man in
need, whoever he may be. Then, when the lost and the outcast came to him
they found the love of God indeed incarnate in him.

At one time we read that all the publicans and sinners drew near unto him
to hear him. The religious teachers of the Jews found sore fault with him,
saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” But he
vindicated his course by telling them that he had come for the very purpose
of seeking the lost ones. On another occasion he said that he was a
physician, and that the physician’s mission was not to the whole, but to the
sick. He had come not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. A
poor woman who was a sinner, having heard his gracious invitation, “Come
unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” came to his feet, at once
putting his preaching to the test. She came weeping, and, falling at his feet,
wet them with her tears, and then wiped them with her dishevelled hair and
kissed them. Then she took an alabaster box, and breaking it, poured the
ointment on his feet. It was a violation of all the proprieties to permit such a
woman to stay at his feet, making such demonstrations. If he had been a
Jewish rabbi, he would have thrust her away with execrations, as bringing
pollution in her touch. But Jesus let the woman stay and finish her act of

CHAPTER IV.

penitence and love, and then spoke words which assured her of forgiveness
and peace.

“She sat and wept, and with her untressed hair Still wiped the feet she was
so blest to touch; And he wiped off the soiling of despair From her sweet
soul, because she loved so much.”

This is but one of the many proofs in Jesus’ life of the sincerity of the wide
invitations he gave. Continually the lost and fallen came to him, for there
was something in him that made it easy for them to come and tell him all
the burden of their sin and their yearning for a better life. Even one whom
he afterward chose as an apostle was a publican when Jesus called him to
be his disciple. He took him in among his friends, into his own inner
household; and now his name is on one of the foundations of the heavenly
city, as an apostle of the Lamb.

Thus we see how broad was the love of Christ, both in word and in act.
Toward every human life his heart yearned. He had a blessing to bestow
upon every soul. Whosoever would might be a friend of Jesus, and come in
among those who stood closest to him. Not one was shut out.

Then, there is another class of words which appear to limit these wide
invitations and this gracious love. Again and again Jesus seems to
discourage discipleship. When men would come, he bids them consider and
count the cost before they decide. One passage tells of three aspirants for
discipleship, for all of whom he seems to have made it hard to follow him.

One man came to him, and with glib and easy profession said, “I will
follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” This seemed all that could have
been asked. No man could do more. Yet Jesus discouraged this ardent
scribe. He saw that he did not know what he was saying, that he had not
counted the cost, and that his devotion would fail in the face of the hardship
and self-denial which discipleship would involve. So he answered, “The
foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man
hath not where to lay his head.” That is, he painted a picture of his own
poverty and homelessness, as if to say, “That is what it will mean for you to

CHAPTER IV.

follow me; are you ready for it?”

Then Jesus turned to another, and said to him, “Follow me.” But this man
asked time. “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” This seemed a
reasonable request. Filial duties stand high in all inspired teaching. Yet
Jesus said, “No; leave the dead to bury their own dead; but go thou and
publish abroad the kingdom of God.” Discipleship seems severe in its
demands if even a sacred duty of love to a father must be foregone that the
man might go instantly to his work as a missionary.

There was a third case. Another man, overhearing what had been said,
proposed also to become a disciple–but not yet. “I will follow thee; but first
suffer me to bid farewell to them that are at my house.” That, too, appeared
only a fit thing to do; but again the answer seems stern and severe. “No
man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the
kingdom of God.” Even the privilege of running home to say “Good-by”
must be denied to him who follows Jesus.

These incidents show, not that Jesus would make it hard and costly for men
to be his disciples, but that discipleship must be unconditional, whatever
the cost, and that even the holiest duties of human love must be made
secondary to the work of Christ’s kingdom. Another marked instance of like
teaching was in the case of the young ruler who wanted to know the way of
life. We try to make it easy for inquirers to begin to follow Christ, but Jesus
set a hard task for this rich young man. He must give up all his wealth, and
come empty-handed with the new Master. Why did he so discourage this
earnest seeker? He saw into his heart, and perceived that he could not be a
true disciple unless he first won a victory over himself. The issue was his
money or Jesus–which? The way was made so hard that for that day, at
least, the young man turned away, clutching his money, leaving Jesus.

Really, a like test was made in every discipleship. Those who followed him
left all, and went empty-handed with him. They were required to give up
father and mother, and wife and children, and lands, and to take up their
cross and follow him.

CHAPTER IV.

Why were the broad invitations of the heart of Jesus so narrowed in their
practical application? The answer is very simple. Jesus was the revealing of
God–God manifest in the flesh. He had come into this world not merely to
heal a few sick people, to bring back joy to a few darkened homes by the
restoring of their dead, to formulate a system of moral and ethical
teachings, to start a wave of kindliness and a ministry of mercy and love; he
had come to save a lost world, to lift men up out of sinfulness into holiness.

There was only one way to do this,–men must be brought back into loyalty
to God. Jesus astonishes us by the tremendous claims and demands he
makes. He says that men must come unto him if they would find rest; that
they must believe on him if they would have everlasting life; that they must
love him more than any human friend; that they must obey him with
absolute, unquestioning obedience; that they must follow him as the
supreme and only guide of their life, committing all their present and
eternal interests into his hands. In a word, he puts himself deliberately into
the place of God, demanding for himself all that God demands, and then
promising to those who accept him all the blessings that God promises to
his children.

This was the way Jesus sought to save men. As the human revealing of
God, coming down close to humanity, and thus bringing God within their
reach, he said, “Believe on me, love me, trust me, and follow me, and I will
lift you up to eternal blessedness.” While the invitation was universal, the
blessings it offered could be given only to those who would truly receive
Christ as the Son of God. If Jesus seemed to demand hard things of those
who would follow him, it was because in no other way could men be saved.
No slight and easy bond would bind them to him, and only by their
attachment to him could they be led into the kingdom of God. If he
sometimes seemed to discourage discipleship, it was that no one might be
deceived as to the meaning of the new life to which Jesus was inviting men.
He would have no followers who did not first count the cost, and know
whether they were ready to go with him. Men could be lifted up into a
heavenly life only by a friendship with Jesus which would prove stronger
than all other ties.

CHAPTER IV.

Religion, therefore, is a passion for Christ. “I have only one passion,” said
Zinzendorf, “and that is he.” Love for Christ is the power that during these
nineteen centuries has been transforming the world. Law could never have
done it, though enforced by the most awful majesty. The most perfect
moral code, though proclaimed with supreme authority, would never have
changed darkness to light, cruelty to humaneness, rudeness to gentleness.
What is it that gives the gospel its resistless power? It is the Person at the
heart of it. Men are not called to a religion, to a creed, to a code of ethics, to
an ecclesiastical system,–they are called to love and follow a Person.

But what is it in Jesus that so draws men, that wins their allegiance away
from every other master, that makes them ready to leave all for his sake,
and to follow him through peril and sacrifice, even to death? Is it his
wonderful teaching? “No man ever spake like this man.” Is it his power as
revealed in his miracles? Is it his sinlessness? The most malignant scrutiny
could find no fault in him. Is it the perfect beauty of his character? Not one
nor all of these will account for the wonderful attraction of Jesus. Love is
the secret. He came into the world to reveal the love of God–he was the
love of God in human flesh. His life was all love. In a most wonderful way
during all his life did he reveal love. Men saw it in his face, and felt it in his
touch, and heard it in his voice. This was the great fact which his disciples
felt in his life. His friendship was unlike any friendship they had ever seen
before, or even dreamed of. It was this that drew them to him, and made
them love him so deeply, so tenderly. Nothing but love will kindle love.
Power will not do it. Holiness will not do it. Gifts will not do it–men will
take your gifts, and then repay you with hatred. But love begets love; heart
responds to heart. Jesus loved.

But the love he revealed in his life, in his tender friendship, was not the
supremest manifesting of his love. He crowned it all by giving his life. “I
am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
This was the most wonderful exhibition of love the world had ever seen.
Now and then some one had been willing to die for a choice and prized
friend; but Jesus died for a world of enemies. It was not for the beloved
disciple and for the brave Peter that he gave his life,–then we might have
understood it,–but it was for the race of sinful men that he poured out his

CHAPTER IV.

most precious blood,–the blood of eternal redemption. It is this marvellous
love in Jesus which attracts men to him. His life, and especially his cross,
declares to every one: “God loves you. The Son of God gave himself for
you.” Jesus himself explained the wonderful secret in his words: “I, if I be
lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” It is on his cross that
his marvellous power is most surpassingly revealed. The secret of the
attraction of the cross is love. “He loved me, and he gave himself for me.”

Thus we find hints of what Jesus is as a friend–what he was to his first
disciples, what he is to-day. His is perfect friendship. The best and richest
human friendships are only little fragments of the perfect ideal. Even these
we prize as the dearest things on earth. They are more precious than rarest
gems. We would lose all other things rather than give up our friends. They
bring to us deep joys, sweet comforts, holy inspirations. Life without
friendship would be empty and lonely. Love is indeed the greatest thing.
Nothing else in all the world will fill and satisfy the heart. Even earth’s
friendships are priceless. Yet the best and truest of them are only fragments
of the perfect friendship. They bring us only little cupfuls of blessing. Their
gentleness is marred by human infirmity, and sometimes turns to harshness.
Their helpfulness at best is impulsive and uncertain, and ofttimes is
inopportune and ill-timed.

But the friendship of Jesus is perfect. Its touch is always gentle and full of
healing. Its helpfulness is always wise. Its tenderness is like the warmth of
a heavenly summer, brooding over the life which accepts it. All the love of
God pours forth in the friendship of Jesus. To be his beloved is to be held in
the clasp of the everlasting arms. “I and my Father are one,” said Jesus; his
friendship, therefore, is the friendship of the Father. Those who accept it in
truth find their lives flooded with a wealth of blessing.

Creeds have their place in the Christian life; their articles are the great
framework of truth about which the fabric rises and from which it receives
its strength. Worship is important, if it is vitalized by faith and the Holy
Spirit. Rites have their sacred value as the channels through which divine
grace is communicated. But that which is vital in all spiritual life is the
friendship of Jesus, coming to us in whatever form it may. To know the

CHAPTER IV.

love of Christ which passeth knowledge is living religion. Creeds and
services and rites and sacraments bring blessing to us only as they interpret
to us this love, and draw us into closer personal relations with Christ.

“Behold him now where he comes! Not the Christ of our subtile creeds, But
the light of our hearts, of our homes, Of our hopes, our prayers, our needs,
The brother of want and blame, The lover of women and men.”

The friendship of Jesus takes our poor earthly lives, and lifts them up out of
the dust into beauty and blessedness. It changes everything for us. It makes
us children of God in a real and living sense. It brings us into fellowship
with all that is holy and true. It kindles in us a friendship for Christ, turning
all the tides of our life into new and holy channels. It thus transforms us
into the likeness of our Friend, whose we are, and whom we serve.

Thus Jesus is saving the world by renewing men’s lives. He is setting up the
kingdom of heaven on the earth. His subjects are won, not by force of arms,
not by a display of Sinaitic terrors, but by the force of love. Men are taught
that God loves them; they see that love first in the life of Jesus, then on his
cross, where he died as the Lamb of God, bearing the sin of the world.
Under the mighty sway of that love they yield their hearts to heaven’s King.
Thus love’s conquests are going on. The friendship of Jesus is changing
earth’s sin and evil into heaven’s holiness and beauty.

CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER V.

JESUS CHOOSING HIS FRIENDS.

He seeks not thine, but thee, such as thou art, For lo, his banner over thee is
love. CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.

If you loved only what were worth your love, Love were clear gain, and
wholly well for you. Make the low nature better by your throes! Give earth
yourself, go up for gain above. BROWNING.

Nothing in life is more important than the choosing of friends. Many young
people wreck all by wrong choices, taking into their life those who by their
influence drag them down. Many a man’s moral failure dates from the day
he chose a wrong friend. Many a woman’s life of sorrow or evil began with
the letting into her heart of an unworthy friendship. On the other hand,
many a career of happiness, of prosperity, of success, of upward climbing,
may be traced to the choice of a pure, noble, rich-hearted, inspiring friend.
Mrs. Browning asked Charles Kingsley, “What is the secret of your life?
Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful too.” He replied, “I had a friend.”
There are many who have reached eminence of character or splendor of life
who could give the same answer. They had a friend who came into their life
at the right time, sent from God, and inspired in them whatever is beautiful
in their character, whatever is worthy and noble in their career.

We may not put our Lord’s choice of his apostles on precisely the same
plane as our selecting of friends, as those men were to be more than
ordinary friends; he was to put his mantle upon them, and they were to be
the founders of his Church. Nevertheless, we may take lessons from the
story for ourselves.

Jesus chose his friends deliberately. His disciples had been gathering about
him for months. It was at least a year after the beginning of his public
ministry that he chose the Twelve. He had had ample time to get well
acquainted with the company of his followers, to test them, to study their
character, to learn their qualities of strength or weakness.

CHAPTER V.

Many fatal mistakes in the choosing of friends come from unfit haste. We
would better take time to know our possible friends, and be sure that we
know them well, before making the solemn compact that seals the
attachment.

Jesus made his choice of friends a subject of prayer. He spent a whole night
in prayer with God, and then came in the morning to choose his apostles. If
Jesus needed thus to pray before choosing his friends, how much more
should we seek God’s counsel before taking a new friendship into our life!
We cannot know what it may mean to us, whither it may lead us, what
sorrow, care, or pain it may bring to us, what touches of beauty or of
marring it may put upon our soul, and we dare not admit it unless God
gives it to us. In nothing do young people need more the guidance of divine
wisdom than when they are settling the question of who shall be their
friends. At the Last Supper Jesus said in his prayer, referring to his
disciples, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.” It makes a
friendship very sacred to be able to say, “God gave it to me. God sent me
this friend.”

In choosing his friends, Jesus thought not chiefly of the comfort and help
they would be to him, but far more of what he might be to them. He did
crave friendship for himself. His heart needed it just as any true human
heart does. He welcomed affection whenever any one brought the gift to
him. He accepted the friendship of the poor, of the children, of those he
helped. We cannot understand how much the Bethany home was to him,
with its confidence, its warmth, its shelter, its tender affection. One of the
most pathetic incidents in the whole Gospel story is the hunger of Jesus for
sympathy in the garden, when he came again and again to his human
friends, hoping to find them alert in watchful love, and found them asleep.
It was a cry of deep disappointment which came from his lips, “Could ye
not watch with me one hour?” Jesus craved the blessing of friendship for
himself, and in choosing the Twelve expected comfort and strength from
his fellowship with them.

But his deepest desire was that he might be a blessing to them. He came
“not to be ministered unto, but to minister;” not to have friends, but to be a

CHAPTER V.

friend. He chose the Twelve that he might lift them up to honor and good;
that he might purify, refine, and enrich their lives; that he might prepare
them to be his witnesses, the conservators of his gospel, the interpreters to
the world of his life and teachings. He sought nothing for himself, but every
breath he drew was full of unselfish love.

We should learn from Jesus that the essential quality in the heart of
friendship is not the desire to have friends, but the desire to be a friend; not
to get good and help from others, but to impart blessing to others. Many of
the sighings for friendship which we have are merely selfish longings,–a
desire for happiness, for pleasure, for the gratification of the heart, which
friends would bring. If the desire were to be a friend, to do others good, to
serve and to give help, it would be a far more Christlike longing, and would
transform the life and character.

We are surprised at the kind of men Jesus chose for his friends. We would
suppose that he, the Son of God, coming from heaven, would have gathered
about him as his close and intimate companions the most refined and
cultivated men of his nation,–men of intelligence, of trained mind, of wide
influence. Instead of going to Jerusalem, however, to choose his apostles
from among rabbis, priests, scribes, and rulers, he selected them from
among the plain people, largely from among fishermen of Galilee. One
reason for this was that he must choose these inner friends from the
company which had been drawn to him and were already his followers, in
true sympathy with him; and there were none of the great, the learned, the
cultured, among these. But another reason was, that he cared more for
qualities of the heart than for rank, position, name, worldly influence, or
human wisdom. He wanted near him only those who would be of the same
mind with him, and whom he could train into loyal, sympathetic apostles.

Jesus took these untutored, undisciplined men into his own household, and
at once began to prepare them for their great work. It is worthy of note, that
instead of scattering his teachings broadcast among the people, so that who
would might gather up his words, and diffusing his influence throughout a
mass of disciples, while distinctly and definitely impressing none
ineffaceably, Jesus chose twelve men, and concentrated his influence upon

CHAPTER V.

them. He took them into the closest relations to himself, taught them the
great truths of his kingdom, impressed upon them the stamp of his own life,
and breathed into them his own spirit. We think of the apostles as great
men; they did become great. Their influence filled many lands–fills all the
world to-day. They sit on thrones, judging all the tribes of men, But all that
they became, they became through the friendship of Jesus. He gave them
all their greatness. He trained them until their rudeness grew into refined
culture. No doubt he gave much time to them in private. They were with
him continually. They saw all his life.

It was a high privilege to live with Jesus those three years,–eating with
him, walking with him, hearing all his conversations, witnessing his
patience, his kindness, his thoughtfulness. It was almost like living in
heaven; for Jesus was the Son of God–God manifest in the flesh. When
Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” Jesus
answered, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Living with Jesus
was, therefore, living with God–his glory tempered by the gentle humanity
in which it was veiled, but no less divine because of this. For three years
the disciples lived with God. No wonder that their lives were transformed,
and that the best that was in them was wooed out by the blessed summer
weather of love in which they moved.

“He chose twelve.” Probably this was because there were twelve tribes of
Israel, and the number was to be continued. One evangelist says that he sent
them out two and two. Why by two and two? With all the world to
evangelize, would it not have been better if they had gone out one by one?
Then they would have reached twice as many points. Was it not a waste of
force, of power, to send two to the same place?

No doubt Jesus had reasons. It would have been lonely for one man to go
by himself. If there were two, one would keep the other company. There
was opposition to the gospel in those days, and it would have been hard for
one to endure persecution alone. The handclasp of a brother would make
the heart braver and stronger. We do not know how much we owe to our
companionships, how they strengthen us, how often we would fail and sink
down without them.

CHAPTER V.

One of the finest definitions of happiness in literature is that given by
Oliver Wendell Holmes. “Happiness,” said the Autocrat, “is four feet on the
fender.” When his beloved wife was gone, and an old friend came in to
condole with him, he said, shaking his gray head, “Only two feet on the
fender now.” Congenial companionship is wonderfully inspiring. Aloneness
is pain. You cannot kindle a fire with one coal. A log will not burn alone.
But put two coals or two logs side by side, and the fire kindles and blazes
and burns hotly. Jesus yoked his apostles in twos that mutual friendship
might inspire them both.

There was another reason for mating the Twelve. Each of them was only a
fragment of a man–not one of them was full-rounded, a complete man,
strong at every point. Each had a strength of his own, with a corresponding
weakness. Then Jesus yoked them together so that each two made one good
man. The hasty, impetuous, self-confident Peter needed the
counterbalancing of the cautious, conservative Andrew. Thomas the
doubter was matched by Matthew the strong believer. It was not an
accidental grouping by which the Twelve fell into six parts. Jesus knew
what was in man; and he yoked these men together in a way which brought
out the best that was in each of them, and by thus blending their lives,
turned their very faults and weaknesses into beauty and strength. He did not
try to make them all alike. He made no effort to have Peter grow quiet and
gentle like John, or Thomas become an enthusiastic, unquestioning believer
like Matthew, He sought for each man’s personality, and developed that. He
knew that to try to recast Peter’s tremendous energy into staidness and
caution would only rob him of what was best in his nature. He found room
in his apostle family for as many different types of temperament as there
were men, setting the frailties of one over against the excessive virtues of
the other.

It is interesting to note the method of Jesus in training his apostles. The aim
of true friendship anywhere is not to make life easy for one’s friend, but to
make something of the friend. That is God’s method. He does not hurry to
take away every burden under which he sees us bending. He does not
instantly answer our prayer for relief, when we begin to cry to him about
the difficulty we have, or the trial we are facing, or the sacrifice we are

CHAPTER V.

making. He does not spare us hardship, loss, or pain. He wants not to make
things easy for us, but to make something of us. We grow under burdens. It
is poor, mistaken fathering or mothering that thinks only of saving a child
from hard tasks or severe discipline. It is weak friendship that seeks only
pleasure and indulgence for a loved one. “The chief want in life is
somebody who shall make us do the best we can.”

Jesus was the truest of friends. He never tried to make the burden light, the
path smooth, the struggle easy. He wished to make men of his
apostles,–men who could stand up and face the world; men whose
character would reflect the beauty of holiness in its every line; men in
whose hands his gospel would be safe when they went out as his
ambassadors. He set for each apostle a high ideal, and then helped him to
work up to the ideal. He taught them that the law of the cross is the law of
life, that the saving of one’s life is the losing of it, and that only when we
lose our life, as men rate it, giving it out in love’s service, do we really save
it.

It is not easy to make a man. It is said that the violin-makers in distant
lands, by breaking and mending with skilful hands, at last produce
instruments having a more wonderful capacity than ever was possible to
them when new, unbroken and whole. Whether this be true or not of
violins, it certainly is true of human lives. We cannot merely grow into
strength, beauty, nobleness, and power of helpfulness, without discipline,
pain, and cost. It is written even of Jesus himself that he was made perfect
through suffering. There was no sin in him; but his perfectness as a
sympathizing Friend, as a helpful Saviour, came through struggle, trial,
pain, and sorrow. Not one of the apostles reached his royal strength as a
man, as a helper of men, as a representative of Jesus, without enduring loss
and suffering. No man who ever rises to a place of real worth and
usefulness in the world walks on a rose-strewn path. We never can be made
fit for anything beautiful and worthy without cost of pain and tears. Always
it is true that-

“Things that hurt and things that mar Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are Friendlier than the smiling days.”

CHAPTER V.

How about ourselves? Life is made very real to our thought when we
remember that in all the experiences of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain,
success and failure, health and sickness, quiet or struggle, God is making
men of us. Then he watches us to see if we fail. Here is a man who is
passing through sore trial. For many months his wife has been a great
sufferer. All the while he has been carrying a heavy burden,–a financial
burden, a burden of sympathy; for every moment’s pain that his wife has
suffered has been like a sword in his own heart,–burdens of care, with
broken nights and weary days. We may be sure of God’s tender interest in
the wife who suffers in the sick-room; but his eye is even more intently
fixed upon him who is bearing the burden of sympathy and care. He is
watching to see if the man will stand the test, and grow sweeter and
stronger. Everything hard or painful in a Christian’s life is another
opportunity for him to get a new victory, and become a little more a man.

It is remarkable how little we know about the apostles. A few of them are
fairly prominent. Peter and James and John we know quite well, as their
names are made familiar in the inspired story. Matthew we know by the
Gospel he wrote. Thomas we remember by his doubts. Another Judas, not
Iscariot, probably left us a little letter. Of the rest we know almost nothing
but their names. Indeed, few Bible readers can give even the names of all
the Twelve.

No doubt one reason why no more is told us about the apostles is that the
Bible magnifies only one name. It is not a book of biographies, but the
book of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each apostle had a sacred friendship all his
own with his Master, a friendship with which no other could intermeddle.
We can imagine the quiet talks, the long walks with the deep communings,
the openings of heart, the confessions of weakness and failure, the many
prayers together. We may be very sure that through those three wonderful
years there ran twelve stories of holy friendship, with their blessed
revealings of the Master’s heart to the heart of each man. But not a word of
all this is written in the New Testament. It was too sacred to be recorded for
any eye of earth to read.

CHAPTER V.

We may be sure, too, that each man of the Twelve did a noble work after
the Ascension, but no pen wrote the narratives for preservation. There are
traditions, but there is in them little that is certainly history. The Acts is not
the acts of the apostles. The book tells a little about John, a little more
about Peter, most about Paul, and of the others gives nothing but a list of
their names in the first chapter.

Yet we need not trouble ourselves about this. It is the same with the good
and the useful in every age. A few names are preserved, but the great
multitude are forgotten. Earth keeps scant record of its benefactors. But
there is a place where every smallest kindness done in the name of Christ is
recorded and remembered.

Long, long ages ago a beautiful fern grew in a deep vale, nodding in the
breeze. One day it fell, complaining as it sank away that no one would
remember its grace and beauty. The other day a geologist went out with his
hammer in the interest of his science. He struck a rock; and there in the
seam lay the form of a fern–every leaf, every fibre, the most delicate
traceries of the leaves. It was the fern which ages since grew and dropped
into the indistinguishable mass of vegetation. It perished; but its memorial
was preserved, and to-day is made manifest.

So it is with the stories of the obscure apostles, and of all beautiful lives
which have wrought for God and for man and have vanished from earth.
Nothing is lost, nothing is forgotten. The memorials are in other lives, and
some day every touch and trace and influence and impression will be
revealed. In the book of The Revelation we are told that in the foundations
of the heavenly city are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The
New Testament does not tell the story of their worthy lives, but it is cut
deep in the eternal rock, where all eyes shall see it forever.

On the lives of these chosen friends Jesus impressed his own image. His
blessed divine-human friendship transformed them into men who went to
the ends of the world for him, carrying his name. It was a new and strange
influence on the earth–this holy friendship of Jesus Christ started in the
hearts and lives of the apostles. At once it began to make this old world

CHAPTER V.

new. Those who believed received the same wonderful friendship into their
own hearts. They loved each other in a way men had never loved before.
Christians lived together as one family.

Ever since the day of Pentecost this wonderful friendship of Jesus has been
spreading wherever the gospel has gone. It has given to the world its
Christian homes with their tender affections; it has built hospitals and
asylums, and established charitable institutions of all kinds in every place
where its story has been told. From the cross of Jesus a wave of tenderness,
like the warmth of summer, has rolled over all lands. The friendship of
Jesus, left in the hearts of his apostles, as his legacy to the world, has
wrought marvellously; and its ministry and influence will extend until
everything unlovely shall cease from earth, and the love of God shall
pervade all life.

CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VI.

JESUS AND THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.

My Lord, my Love! in pleasant pain How often have I said, “Blessed that
John who on thy breast Laid down his head.” It was that contact all divine
Transformed him from above, And made him amongst men the man To
show forth holy love. CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.

Love is regenerating the world. It is the love of God that is working this
mighty transformation. The world was cold and loveless before Christ
came. Of course there always was love in the race,–father-love,
mother-love, filial love, love for country. There have always been human
friendships which were constant, tender, and true, whose stories shine in
bright lustre among the records of life. Natural affection there has always
been, but Christian love was not in the world till Christ came.

The incarnation was the breaking into this world of the love of God. For
three and thirty years Jesus walked among men, pouring out love in every
word, in every act, in all his works, and in every influence of his life. Then
on the cross his heart broke, spilling its love upon the earth. As Mary’s
ointment filled all the house where it was emptied out, so the love of God
poured out in Christ’s life and death is filling all the world.

Jesus put his love into human hearts that it might be carried everywhere.
Instantly there was a wondrous change. The story of the Church after the
day of Pentecost shows a spirit among the disciples of Christ which the
world had never seen before. They had all things common. The strong
helped the weak. They formed a fellowship which was almost heavenly.
From that time to the present the leaven of love has been working. It has
slowly wrought itself into every department of life,–into art, literature,
music, laws, education, morals. Every hospital, orphanage, asylum, and
reformatory in the world has been inspired by the love of Christ. Christian
civilization is a product of this same divine affection working through the
nations.

CHAPTER VI.

Perhaps no other of the Master’s disciples has done so much in the
interpreting and the diffusing of the love of Christ in the world as the
beloved disciple has done. Peter was the mightiest force at the beginning in
the founding of the Church. Then came Paul with his tremendous
missionary energy, carrying Christianity to the ends of the earth. Each of
these apostles was greatest in his own way and place. But John has done
more than either of these to bless the world with love. His influence is
everywhere. He is likest Jesus of all the disciples. His influence is slowly
spreading among men. We see it in the enlarging spirit of love among
Christians, in the increase of philanthropy, in the growing sentiment that
war must cease among Christian nations, all disputes to be settled by
arbitration, and in the feeling of universal brotherhood which is softening
all true men’s hearts toward each other.

It cannot but be intensely interesting to trace the story of the friendship of
Jesus and John, for it was in this hallowed friendship that John learned all
that he gave the world in his life and words. We are able to fix its
beginning–when Jesus and John met for the first time. One day John the
Baptist was standing by the Jordan with two of his disciples. One of these
was Andrew; and the other we know was John–we know it because in
John’s own Gospel, where the incident is recorded, no name is given. The
two young men had not yet seen Jesus; but the Baptist knew him, and
pointed him out as he passed by, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

The two young men went after Jesus, no doubt eager to speak with him.
Hearing their footsteps behind him, he turned, and asked them what they
sought. They asked, “Rabbi, where abidest thou?” He said, “Come, and ye
shall see.” They gladly accepted the invitation, went with him to his
lodgings, and remained until the close of the day. We have no account of
what took place during those happy hours. It would be interesting to know
what Jesus said to his visitors, but not a word of the conversation has been
preserved. We may be sure, however, that the visit made a deep impression
on John.

Most days in our lives are unmarked by any special event. There are
thousands of them that seem just alike, with their common routine. Once or

CHAPTER VI.

twice, however, in the lifetime of almost every person, there is a day which
is made forever memorable by some event or occurrence,–the first meeting
with one who fills a large place in one’s after years, a compact of sacred
friendship, a revealing of some new truth, a decision which brought rich
blessing, or some other experience which set the day forever apart among
all days.

John lived to be a very old man; but to his latest years he must have
remembered the day when he first met Jesus, and began with him the
friendship which brought him such blessing. We may be sure that as at their
first meeting the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and
Jonathan loved him as his own soul, so at this first meeting the soul of John
was knit with the soul of Jesus in a holy friendship which brought
unspeakable good to his life. There was that in Jesus which at once touched
all that was best in John, and called out the sweetest music of his soul.

“Thou shall know him when he comes Not by any din of drums, Nor the
vantage of his airs; Neither by his crown, Nor by his gown, Nor by
anything he wears. He shall only well-known be By the holy harmony That
his coming makes in thee!”

John calls himself the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” This designation gives
him a distinction even among the Master’s personal friends. Jesus loved all
the apostles, but there were three who belonged in an inner circle. Then, of
these three, John was the best beloved. We are not told what it was in John
that gave him this highest honor. He was probably a cousin of Jesus, as it is
thought by many that their mothers were sisters. This blood relationship,
however, would not account for the strong love that bound them together.
There must have been certain qualities in John which fitted him in a
peculiar way for being the closest friend of Jesus.

We know that John’s personality was very winning. He was only a
fisherman, and in his youth lacked opportunities for acquiring knowledge
or refinement. If Mary and Salome were sisters, the blood of David’s line
was in John as well as in Jesus. It is something to have back of one’s birth a
long and noble descent. Besides, John was one of those rare men “who

CHAPTER VI.

appear to be formed of finer clay than their neighbors, and cast in a gentler
mould.” Evidently he was by nature a man of sympathetic spirit, one born
to be a friend.

The study of John’s writings helps us to answer our question. Not once in
all his Gospel does he refer to himself by name; yet as one reads the
wonderful chapters, one is aware of a spirit, an atmosphere, of sweetness.
There are fields and meadows in which the air is laden with fragrance, and
yet no flowers can be seen. But looking closely, one finds, low on the
ground, hidden by the tall grasses, a multitude of little lowly flowers. It is
from these that the perfume comes. In every community there are humble,
quiet lives, almost unheard of among men, who shed a subtle influence on
all about them. Thus it is in the chapters of John’s Gospel. The name of the
writer nowhere appears, but the charm of his spirit pervades the whole
book.

In the designation which he adopts for himself, there is a fine revealing of
character. There is a beautiful self-obliteration in the hiding away of the
author’s personality that only the name and glory of Jesus may be seen.
There are some good men, who, even when trying to exalt and honor their
Lord, cannot resist the temptation to write their own name large, that those
who see the Master may also see the Master’s friend. In John there is an
utter absence of this spirit. As the Baptist, when asked who he was, refused
to give his name, and said he was only a voice proclaiming the coming of
the King, so John spoke of himself only as one whom the Master loved.

We must note, too, that he does not speak of himself as the disciple who
loved Jesus,–this would have been to boast of himself as loving the Master
more than the other disciples did,–but as the disciple whom Jesus loved. In
this distinction lies one of the subtlest secrets of Christian peace. Our hope
does not rest in our love for Jesus, but in his love for us. Our love at the
best is variable in its moods. To-day it glows with warmth and joy, and we
say we could die for Christ; to-morrow, in some depression, we question
whether we really love him at all, our feeling responds so feebly to his
name. A peace that depends on our loving Christ is as variable as our own
consciousness. But when it is Christ’s love for us that is our dependence,

CHAPTER VI.

our peace is undisturbed by any earthly changes.

Thus we find in John a reposeful spirit. He was content to be lowly. He
knew how to trust. His spirit was gentle. He was of a deeply spiritual
nature. Yet we must not think of him as weak or effeminate. Perhaps
painters have helped to give this impression of him; but it is one that is not
only untrue, but dishonoring. John was a man of noble strength. In his soul,
under his quietness and sweetness of spirit, dwelt a mighty energy. But he
was a man of love, and had learned the lesson of divine peace; thus he was
a self-controlled man.

These are hints of the character of the disciple whom Jesus loved, whom he
chose to be his closest friend. He was only a lad when Jesus first met him,
and we must remember that the John we chiefly know was the man as he
developed under the influence of Jesus. What Jesus saw in the youth who
sat down beside him in his lodging-place that day, drank in his words, and
opened his soul to him as a rose to the morning sun, was a nature rich in its
possibilities of noble and beautiful character. The John we know is the man
as he ripened in the summer of Christ’s love. He is a product of pure
Christ-culture. His young soul responded to every inspiration in his Master,
and developed into rarer loveliness every day. Doubtless one of the
qualities in John that fitted him to be the closest friend of Jesus was his
openness of heart, which made him such an apt learner, so ready to respond
to every touch of Christ’s hand.

It would be interesting to trace the story of this holy friendship through the
three years Jesus and John were together, but only a little of the wonderful
narrative is written. Some months after the first meeting, there was another
beside the sea. For some reason John and his companions had taken up
their fishing again. Jesus came by in the early morning, and found the men
greatly discouraged because they had been out all night and had caught
nothing. He told them to push out, and to cast their net again, telling them
where to cast it. The result was a great draught of fishes. It was a revealing
of divine power which mightily impressed the fishermen. He then bade
them to follow him, and said he would make them become fishers of men.
Immediately they left the ship, and went with Jesus.

CHAPTER VI.

Thus John had now committed himself altogether to his new Master. From
this time he remained with Jesus, following him wherever he went. He was
in his school, and was an apt scholar. A little later there came another call.
Jesus chose twelve men to be apostles, and among them was the beloved
disciple. This choice and call brought him into yet closer fellowship with
Jesus. Now the transformation of character would go on more rapidly
because of the constancy and the closeness of John’s association with his
Master.

A peculiar designation is given to the brothers James and John. Jesus
surnamed them Boanerges, the sons of thunder. There must have been a
meaning in such a name given by Jesus himself. Perhaps the figure of
thunder suggests capacity for energy–that the soul of John was charged, as
it were, with fiery zeal. It appears to us, as we read John’s writings, that this
could not have been true. He seems such a man of love that we cannot think
of him as ever being possessed of an opposite feeling. But there is evidence
that by nature he was full of just such energy held in reserve. We see John
chiefly in his writings; and these were the fruit of his mellow old age, when
love’s lessons had been well learned. It seems likely that in his youth he had
in his breast a naturally quick, fiery temper. But under the culture of Jesus
this spirit was brought into complete mastery. We have one illustration of
this earlier natural feeling in a familiar incident. The people of a certain
village refused to receive the Master, and John and his brother wished to
call down fire from heaven to consume them. But Jesus reminded them that
he was not in the world to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

We know not how often this lesson had to be taught to John before he
became the apostle of love. It was well on in St. Paul’s old age that he said
he had learned in whatsoever state he was therein to be content. It is a
comfort to us to know that he was not always able to say this, and that the
lesson had to be learned by him just as it has to be learned by us. It is a
comfort to us also to be permitted to believe that John had to learn to be the
loving, gentle disciple he became in later life, and that the lesson was not
an easy one.

CHAPTER VI.

It is instructive also to remember that it was through his friendship with
Jesus that John received his sweetness and lovingness of character. An old
Persian apologue tells that one found a piece of fragrant clay in his garden,
and that when asked how it got its perfume the clay replied, “One laid me
on a rose.” John lived near the heart of Jesus, and the love of that heart of
gentleness entered his soul and transformed him. There is no other secret
for any who would learn love’s great lesson. Abiding in Christ, Christ
abides also in us, and we are made like him because he lives in us.

John’s distinction of being one of the Master’s closest friends brought him
several times into experiences of peculiar sacredness. He witnessed the
transfiguration, when for an hour the real glory of the Christ shone out
through his investiture of flesh. This was a vision John never forgot. It must
have impressed itself deeply upon his soul. He was also one of those who
were led into the inner shadows of Gethsemane, to be near Jesus while he
suffered, and to comfort him with love.

This last experience especially suggests to us something of what the
friendship of John was to Jesus. There is no doubt that this friendship
brought to John immeasurable comfort and blessing, enriching his life, and
transforming his character. But what was the friendship to Jesus? There is
no doubt that it was a great deal to him. He craved affection and sympathy,
as every noble heart does just in the measure of its humanness. One of the
saddest elements of the Gethsemane sorrow was the disappointment of
Jesus, when, hungry for love, he went back to his chosen three, expecting to
find a little comfort and strength, and found them sleeping.

The picture of John at the Last Supper, leaning on Jesus’ breast, shows him
to us in the posture in which we think of him most. It is the place of
confidence; the bosom is only for those who have a right to closest
intimacy. It is the place of love, near the heart. It is the place of safety, for
he is in the clasp of the everlasting arms, and none can snatch him out of
the impregnable shelter. It was the darkest night the world ever saw that
John lay on the bosom of Jesus. That is the place of comfort for all
sorrowing believers, and there is abundance of room for them all on that
breast. John leaned on Jesus’ breast,–weakness reposed on strength,

CHAPTER VI.

helplessness on almighty help. We should learn to lean, to lean our whole
weight, on Christ. That is the privilege of Christian faith.

There was one occasion when John seems to have broken away from his
usual humility. He joined with his brother in a request for the highest places
in the new kingdom. This is only one of the evidences of John’s
humanness,–that he was of like passions with the rest of us. Jesus treated
the brothers with gentle pity–“Ye know not what ye ask.” Then he
explained to them that the highest places must be reached through toil and
sorrow, through the paths of service and suffering. Later in life John knew
what the Master’s words meant. He found his place nearest to Christ, but it
was not on the steps of an earthly throne; it was a nearness of love, and the
steps to it were humility, self-forgetfulness, and ministry.

It must have given immeasurable comfort to Jesus to have John stay so near
to him during the last scenes. If he fled for a moment in the garden when all
the apostles fled, he soon returned; for he was close to his Master during his
trial. Then, when he was on the cross, Jesus saw a group of loving friends
near by, watching with breaking hearts; and among these was John. It lifted
a heavy burden off the heart of Jesus to be able then to commit his mother
to John, and to see him lead her away to his own home. It was a supreme
expression of friendship,–choosing John from among all his friends for the
sacred duty of sheltering this blessedest of women.

The story of this beautiful friendship of Jesus and John shows us what is
possible in its own measure to every Christian discipleship. It is not
possible for every Christian to be a St. John, but close friendship with Jesus
is the privilege of every true believer; and all who enter into such a
friendship will be transformed into the likeness of their Friend.

CHAPTER VII.

CHAPTER VII.

JESUS AND PETER.

“As the mighty poets take Grief and pain to build their song, Even so for
every soul, Whatsoe’er its lot may be,– Building, as the heavens roll,
Something large and strong and free,– Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise, Shock and strain and ruin are Friendlier
than the smiling days.”

Our first glimpse of Simon in the New Testament is as he was being
introduced to Jesus. It was beside the Jordan. His brother had brought him;
and that moment a friendship began which not only was of infinite and
eternal importance to Simon himself, but which has left incalculable
blessing in the world.

Jesus looked at him intently, with deep, penetrating gaze. He saw into his
very soul. He read his character; not only what he was then, but the
possibilities of his life,–what he would become under the power of grace.
He then gave him a new name. “When Jesus beheld him, he said. Thou art
Simon: … thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.”

In a gallery in Europe there hang, side by side, Rembrandt’s first picture, a
simple sketch, imperfect and faulty, and his great masterpiece, which all
men admire. So in the two names, Simon and Peter, we have, first the rude
fisherman who came to Jesus that day, the man as he was before Jesus
began his work on him; and second, the man as he became during the years
when the friendship of Jesus had warmed his heart and enriched his life;
when the teaching of Jesus had given him wisdom and kindled holy
aspirations in his soul; and when the experiences of struggle and failure, of
penitence and forgiveness, of sorrow and joy, had wrought their
transformations in him.

“Thou art Simon.” That was his name then. “Thou shalt be called Cephas.”
That was what he should become. It was common in the East to give a new
name to denote a change of character, or to indicate a man’s position among

CHAPTER VII.

men. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham–“Father of a
multitude”–when the promise was sealed to him. Jacob’s name, which
meant supplanter, one who lived by deceit, was changed to Israel, a prince
with God, after that night when the old nature was maimed and defeated
while he wrestled with God, and overcame by clinging in faith and trust. So
Simon received a new name when he came to Jesus, and began his
friendship with him. “Thou shalt be called Cephas.”

This did not mean that Simon’s character was changed instantly into the
quality which the new name indicated. It meant that Jesus saw in him the
possibilities of firmness, strength, and stability, of which a stone is the
emblem. It meant that this should be his character by and by, when the
work of grace in him was finished. The new name was a prophecy of the
man that was to be, the man that Jesus would make of him. Now he was
only Simon–rash, impulsive, self-confident, vain, and therefore weak and
unstable.

Some of the processes in this making of a man, this transformation of
Simon into Cephas, we may note as we read the story. There were three
years between the beginning of the friendship of Jesus and Simon and the
time when the man was ready for his work. The process was not easy.
Simon had many hard lessons to learn. Self-confidence had to be changed
into humility. Impetuosity had to be chastened and disciplined into quiet
self-control. Presumption had to be awed and softened into reverence.
Thoughtfulness had to grow out of heedlessness. Rashness had to be
subdued into prudence, and weakness had to be tempered into calm
strength. All this moral history was folded up in the words, “Thou shalt be
called Cephas–a stone.”

The meeting by the Jordan was the beginning. A new friendship coming
into a life may color all its future, may change its destiny. We never know
what may come of any chance meeting. But the beginning of a friendship
with Jesus has infinite possibilities of good. The giving of the new name
must have put a new thought of life’s meaning into Simon’s heart. It must
have set a new vision in his soul, and kindled new aspirations within his
breast. Life must have meant more to him from that hour. He had glimpses

CHAPTER VII.

of possibilities he had never dreamed of before. It is always so when Jesus
truly comes into any one’s life. A new conception of character dawns on the
soul, a new ideal, a revelation which changes all thoughts of living. The
friendship of Jesus is most inspiring.

Some months passed, and then came a formal call which drew Simon into
close and permanent relations with Jesus. It was on the Sea of Galilee. The
men were fishing. There had been a night of unsuccessful toil. In the
morning Jesus used Simon’s boat for a pulpit, speaking from its deck to the
throngs on the shore. He then bade the men push out into deep water and let
down their net. Simon said it was not worth while–still he would do the
Master’s bidding. The result was an immense haul of fishes.

The effect of the miracle on Simon’s mind was overwhelming. Instantly he
felt that he was in the presence of divine revealing, and a sense of his own
sinfulness and unworthiness oppressed him. “Depart from me; for I am a
sinful man, O Lord,” he cried. Jesus quieted his terror with his comforting
“Fear not.” Then he said to him, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
This was another self-revealing. Simon’s work as a fisherman was ended.
He forsook all, and followed Jesus, becoming a disciple in the full sense.
His friendship with Jesus was deepening. He gave up everything he had,
going with Jesus into poverty, homelessness, and–he knew not what.

Living in the personal household of Jesus, Simon saw his Master’s life in all
its manifold phases, hearing the words he spoke whether in public on in
private conversation, and witnessing every revealing of his character,
disposition, and spirit. It is impossible to estimate the influence of all this
on the life of Simon. He was continually seeing new things in Jesus,
hearing new words from his lips, learning new lessons from his life. One
cannot live in daily companionship with any good man without being
deeply influenced by the association. To live with Jesus in intimate
relations of friendship was a holy privilege, and its effect on Simon’s
character cannot be estimated.

An event which must have had a great influence on Simon was his call to
be an apostle. Not only was he one of the Twelve, but his name came

CHAPTER VII.

first–it is always given first. He was the most honored of all, was to be
their leader, occupying the first place among them. A true-hearted man is
not elated or puffed up by such honoring as this. It humbles him, rather,
because the distinction brings with it a sense of responsibility. It awes a
good man to become conscious that God is intrusting him with place and
duty in the world, and is using him to be a blessing to others. He must walk
worthy of his high calling. A new sanctity invests him–the Lord has set
him apart for holy service.

Another event which had a marked influence on Simon was his recognition
of the Messiahship of Jesus. Just how this great truth dawned upon his
consciousness we do not know, but there came a time when the conviction
was so strong in him that he could not but give expression to it. It was in
the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus had led the Twelve apart into
a secluded place for prayer. There he asked them two solemn questions. He
asked them first what the people were saying about him–who they thought
he was. The answer showed that he was not understood by them; there were
different opinions about him, none of them correct. Then he asked the
Twelve who they thought he was. Simon answered, “The Christ, the Son of
the living God.” The confession was wonderfully comprehensive. It
declared that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he was a divine being–the
Son of the living God.

It was a great moment in Simon’s life when he uttered this wonderful
confession. Jesus replied with a beatitude for Simon, and then spoke
another prophetic word: “Thou art Peter,” using now the new name which
was beginning to be fitting, as the new man that was to be was growing out
of the old man that was being left behind. “Thou art Peter, and upon this
rock I will build my church.” It was a further unveiling of Simon’s future. It
was in effect an unfolding or expansion of what he had said when Simon
first stood before him. “Thou shalt be called Cephas.” As a confessor of
Christ, representing all the apostles, Peter was thus honored by his Lord.

But the Messianic lesson was yet only partly learned. Simon believed that
Jesus was the Messiah, but his conception of the Messiah was still only an
earthly one. So we read that from that time Jesus began to teach the

CHAPTER VII.

apostles the truth about his mission,–that he must suffer many things, and
be killed. Then it was that Simon made his grave mistake in seeking to hold
his Master back from the cross. “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never
be unto thee,” he said with great vehemence. Quickly came the stern reply,
“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me.” Simon
had to learn a new lesson. He did not get it fully learned until after Jesus
had risen again, and the Holy Spirit had come,–that the measure of rank in
spiritual life is the measure of self-forgetting service.

We get a serious lesson here in love and friendship. It is possible for us to
become Satan even to those we love the best. We do this when we try to
dissuade them from hard toil, costly service, or perilous missions to which
God is calling them. We need to exercise the most diligent care, and to
keep firm restraint upon our own affections, lest in our desire to make the
way easier for our friends we tempt them to turn from the path which God
has chosen for their feet.

Thus lesson after lesson did Simon have to learn, each one leading to a
deeper humility. “Less of self and more of thee–none of self and all of
thee.” Thus we reach the last night with its sad fall. The denial of Peter was
a terrible disappointment. We would have said it was impossible, as Peter
himself said. He was brave as a lion. He loved Jesus deeply and truly. He
had received the name of the rock. For three years he had been under the
teaching of Jesus, and he had been received into special honor and favor
among the apostles. He had been faithfully forewarned of his danger, and
we say, “Forewarned is forearmed.” Yet in spite of all, this bravest, most
favored disciple, this man of rock, fell most ignominiously, at a time, too,
when friendship to his Master ought to have made him truest and most
loyal.

It was the loving gentleness of Jesus that saved him. What intense pain
there must have been in the heart of the Master when, after hearing Peter’s
denial, he turned and looked at Peter!

“I think the look of Christ might seem to say,– ‘Thou Peter! art thou then a
common stone Which I at last must break my heart upon, For all God’s

CHAPTER VII.

charge to his high angels may Guard my foot better? Did I yesterday Wash
thy feet, my beloved, that they should run Quick to deny me ‘neath the
morning sun? And do thy kisses like the rest betray? The cock crows
coldly. Go and manifest A late contrition, but no bootless fear! For when
thy final need is dreariest, Thou shalt not be denied, as I am here. My voice,
to God and angels, shall attest, “Because I know this man, let him be
clear.”‘”

It was after this look of wondrous love that Peter went out and wept
bitterly. At last he remembered. It seemed too late, but it was not too late.
The heart of Jesus was not closed against him, and he rose from his fall a
new man.

What place had the denial in the story of the training of Peter? It had a very
important place. Up to that last night, there was still a grave blemish in
Simon’s character. His self-confidence was an element of weakness.
Perhaps there was no other way in which this fault could be cured but by
allowing him to fall. We know at least that, in the bitter experience of
denial, with its solemn repenting, Peter lost his weakness. He came from
his penitence a new man. At last he was disinthralled. He had learned the
lesson of humility. It was never again possible for him to deny his Lord. A
little later, after a heart-searching question thrice repeated, he was restored
and recommissioned–“Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.”

So the work was completed; the vision of the new man had been realized.
Simon had become Cephas. It had been a long and costly process, but
neither too long nor too costly. While the marble was wasting, the image
was growing.

You say it was a great price that Simon had to pay to be fashioned into
Peter. You ask whether it was worth while, whether it would not have been
quite as well for him if he had remained the plain, obscure fisherman he
was when Jesus first found him. Then he would have been only a
fisherman, and after living among his neighbors for his allotted years, he
would have had a quiet funeral one day, and would have been laid to rest
beside the sea. As it was, he had a life of poverty and toil and hard service.

CHAPTER VII.

It took a great deal of severe discipline to make out of him the strong, firm
man of rock that Jesus set out to produce in him. But who will say to-day
that it was not worth while? The splendid Christian manhood of Peter has
been now for nineteen centuries before the eyes of the world as a type of
character which Christian men should emulate–a vision of life whose
influence has touched millions with its inspiration. The price which had to
be paid to attain this nobleness of character and this vastness of holy
influence was not too great.

But how about ourselves? It may be quite as hard for some of us to be made
into the image of beauty and strength which the Master has set for us. It
may require that we shall pass through experiences of loss, trial,
temptation, and sorrow. Life’s great lessons are very long, and cannot be
learned in a day, nor can they be learned easily. But life, at whatever cost,
is worth while. It is worth while for the gold to pass through the fire to be
made pure and clean. It is worth while for the gem to endure the hard
processes necessary to prepare it for shining in its dazzling splendor. It is
worth while for a life to submit to whatever of severe discipline may be
required to bring out in it the likeness of the Master, and to fit it for noble
doing and serving. Poets are said to learn in suffering what they teach in
song. If only one line of noble, inspiring, uplifting song is sung into the
world’s air, and started on a world-wide mission of blessing, no price paid
for the privilege is too much to pay. David had to suffer a great deal to be
able to write the Twenty-Third Psalm, but he does not now think that psalm
cost him too much. William Canton writes:-

“A man lived fifty years–joy dashed with tears; Loved, toiled; had wife and
child, and lost them; died; And left of all his long life’s work one little song.
That lasted–naught beside.

Like the monk Felix’s bird, that song was heard; Doubt prayed, Faith
soared. Death smiled itself to sleep; That song saved souls. You say the
man paid stiffly? Nay. God paid–and thought it cheap.”

CHAPTER VIII.

CHAPTER VIII.

JESUS AND THOMAS.

I have a life in Christ to live, I have a death in Christ to die; And must I
wait till science give All doubts a full reply?

Nay, rather while the sea of doubt Is raging wildly round about,
Questioning of life and death and sin, Let me but creep within Thy fold, O
Christ! and at thy feet Take but the lowest seat. PRINCIPAL SHAIRP.

There is no record of the beginning of the friendship of Jesus and Thomas.
We do not know when Thomas became a disciple, nor what first drew him
to Jesus. Did a friend bring him? Did he learn of the new rabbi through the
fame of him that went everywhere, and then come to him without
solicitation? Did he hear him speak one day, and find himself drawn to him
by the power of his gracious words? Or did Jesus seek him out in his home
or at his work, and call him to be a follower?

We do not know. The manner of his coming is veiled in obscurity. The first
mention of his name is in the list of the Twelve. As the apostles were
chosen from the much larger company of those who were already disciples,
Thomas must have been a follower of Jesus before he was an apostle. He
and Jesus had been friends for some time, and there is evidence that the
friendship was a very close and tender one. Even in the scant material
available for the making up of the story, we find evidence in Thomas of
strong loyalty and unwavering devotion, and in Jesus of marvellous
patience and gentleness toward his disciple.

We have in the New Testament many wonderfully lifelike portraits.
Occurring again and again, they are always easily recognizable. In every
mention of Peter, for example, the man is indubitably the same. He is
always active, speaking or acting; not always wisely, but in every case
characteristically,–impetuous, self-confident, rash, yet ever warm-hearted.
We would know him unmistakably in every incident in which he appears,
even if his name were not given. John, too, whenever we see him, is always

CHAPTER VIII.

the same,–reverent, quiet, affectionate, trustful, the disciple of love.
Andrew appears only a few times, but in each of these cases he is engaged
in the same way,–bringing some one to Jesus. Mary of Bethany comes into
the story on only three occasions; but always we see her in the same
attitude,–at Jesus’ feet,–while Martha is ever active in her serving.

The character of Thomas also is sketched in a very striking way. There are
but three incidents in which this apostle appears; but in all of these the
portrait is the same, and is so clear that even Peter’s character is scarcely
better known than that of Thomas. He always looks at the dark side. We
think of him as the doubter; but his doubt is not of the flippant kind which
reveals lack of reverence, ofttimes ignorance and lack of earnest thought; it
is rather a constitutional tendency to question, and to wait for proof which
would satisfy the senses, than a disposition to deny the facts of Christianity.
Thomas was ready to believe, glad to believe, when the proof was
sufficient to convince him. Then all the while he was ardently a true and
devoted friend of Jesus, attached to him, and ready to follow him even to
death.

The first incident in which Thomas appears is in connection with the death
of Lazarus. Jesus had now gone beyond the Jordan with his disciples. The
Jews had sought to kill him; and he escaped from their hands, and went
away for safety. When news of the sickness of Lazarus came, Jesus waited
two days, and then said to his disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” The
disciples reminded him of the hatred of the Jews, and of their recent
attempts to kill him. They thought that he ought not to venture back again
into the danger, even for the sake of carrying comfort to the sorrowing
Bethany household. Jesus answered with a little parable about one’s
security while walking during the day. The meaning of the parable was that
he had not yet reached the end of his day, and therefore could safely
continue the work which had been given him to do. Every man doing God’s
will is immortal till the work is done. Jesus then announced to his disciples
that Lazarus was dead, and that he was going to waken him.

It is at this point that Thomas appears. He said to his fellow-disciples, “Let
us also go, that we may die with him.” He looked only at the dark side. He

CHAPTER VIII.

took it for granted that if Jesus returned to Judea he would be killed. He
forgot for the time the divine power of Jesus, and the divine protection
which sheltered him while he was doing the Father’s will. He failed to
understand the words Jesus had just spoken about his security until the
hours of his day were finished. He remembered only the bitterness which
the Jews had shown toward Jesus, and their determination to destroy his
life. He had no hope that if Jesus returned they would not carry out their
wicked purpose. There was no blue in the sky for him. He saw only
darkness.

Thomas represents a class of good people who are found in every
community. They see only the sad side of life. No stars shine through their
cypress-trees. In the time of danger they forget that there are divine refuges
into which they may flee and be safe. They know the promises, and often
quote them to others; but when trouble comes upon them, all these words of
God fade out of their minds. In sorrow they fail to receive any true and
substantial comfort from the Scriptures. Hope dies in their hearts when the
shadows gather about them. They yield to discouragement, and the
darkness blots out every star in their sky. Whatever the trouble may be that
comes into their life, they see the trouble only, and fail to perceive the
bright light in the cloud.

This habit of mind adds much to life’s hardness. Every burden is heavier
because of the sad heart that beats under it. Every pain is keener because of
the dispiriting which it brings with it. Every sorrow is made darker by the
hopelessness with which it is endured. Every care is magnified, and the
sweetness of every pleasure is lessened, by this pessimistic tendency. The
beauty of the world loses half its charm in the eyes which see all things in
the hue of despondent feeling. Slightest fears become terrors, and smallest
trials grow into great misfortunes. Our heart makes our world for us; and if
the heart be without hope and cheer, the world is always dark. We find in
life just what we have the capacity to find. One who is color-blind sees no
loveliness in nature. One who has no music in his soul hears no harmonies
anywhere. When fear sits regnant on the throne, life is full of alarms.

CHAPTER VIII.

On the other hand, if the heart be full of hope, every joy is doubled, and
half of every trouble vanishes. There are sorrows, but they are comforted.
There are bitter cups, but the bitterness is sweetened. There are heavy
burdens, but the songful spirit lightens them. There are dangers, but
cheerful courage robs them of terror. All the world is brighter when the
light of hope shines within.

But we have read only half the story of the fear of Thomas. He saw only
danger in the Master’s return to Judea. “The Jews will kill him; he will go
back to certain death,” he said. But Thomas would not forsake Jesus,
though he was going straight to martyrdom. “Let us also go, that we may
die with him.” Thus, mingled with his fear, was a noble and heroic love for
Jesus. The hopelessness of Thomas as he thought of Jesus going to Bethany
makes his devotion and his cleaving to him all the braver and nobler. He
was sure it was a walk to death, but he faltered not in his loyalty.

This is a noble spirit in Thomas, which we would do well to emulate. It is
the true soldier spirit. Its devotion to Christ is absolute, and its following
unconditional. It has only one motive,–love; and one rule,–obedience. It is
not influenced by any question of consequences; but though it be to certain
death, it hesitates not. This is the kind of discipleship which the Master
demands. He who loves father or mother more than him is not worthy of
him. He who hates not his own life cannot be his disciple. A follower of
Jesus must be ready and willing to follow him to his cross. Thomas proved
his friendship for his Master by a noble heroism. It is the highest test of
courage to go forward unfalteringly in the way of duty when one sees only
personal loss and sacrifice as the result. The soldier who trembles, and
whose face whitens from constitutional physical fear, and who yet marches
steadily into the battle, is braver far than the soldier who without a tremor
presses into the engagement.

The second time at which Thomas appears is in the upper room, after the
Holy Supper had been eaten. Jesus had spoken of the Father’s house, and
had said that he was going away to prepare a place for his disciples, and
that then he would come again to receive them unto himself. Thomas could
not understand the Master’s meaning, and said, “Lord, we know not whither

CHAPTER VIII.

thou goest; and how can we know the way?” He would not say he believed
until he saw for himself. That is all that his question in the upper room
meant–he wished the Master to make the great teaching a little plainer. It
were well if more Christians insisted on finding the ground of their faith,
the reasons why they are Christians. Their faith would then be stronger, and
less easily shaken. When trouble comes, or any testing, it would continue
firm and unmoved, because it rests on the rock of divine truth.

The last incident in the story of Thomas is after the resurrection. The first
evening the apostles met in the upper room to talk over the strange things
which had occurred that day. For some reason Thomas was not at this
meeting. We may infer that his melancholy temperament led him to absent
himself. He had loved Jesus deeply, and his sorrow was very great. There
had been rumors all day of Christ’s resurrection, but Thomas put no
confidence in these. Perhaps his despondent disposition made him unsocial,
and kept him from meeting with the other apostles, even to weep with
them.

That evening Jesus entered through the closed doors, and stood in the midst
of the disciples, and greeted them as he had done so often before, “Peace be
unto you!” They told Thomas afterwards that they had seen the Lord. But
he refused to believe them; that is, he doubted the reality of what they
thought they had seen. He said that they had been deceived; and he asserted
that he must not only see for himself, but must have the opportunity of
subjecting the evidence to the severest test. He must see the print of the
nails, and must also be permitted to put his finger into the place.

It is instructive to think of what this doubting disposition of Thomas cost
him. First, it kept him from the meeting of the disciples that evening, when
all the others came together. He shut himself up with his gloom and
sadness. His grief was hopeless, and he would not seek comfort. The
consequence was, that when Jesus entered the room, and showed himself to
his friends, Thomas missed the revealing which gave them such
unspeakable gladness. From that hour their sorrow was changed to joy; but
for the whole of another week Thomas remained in the darkness in which
the crucifixion had infolded him.

CHAPTER VIII.

Doubt is always costly. It shuts out heavenly comfort. There are many
Christian people who, especially in the first shock of sorrow, have an
experience similar to that of Thomas. They shut themselves up with their
grief, and refuse to accept the comfort of the gospel of Christ. They turn
away their ears from the voices of love which speak to them out of the
Bible, and will not receive the divine consolations. The light shines all
about them; but they close doors and windows, and keep it from entering
the darkened chamber where they sit. The music of peace floats on the air
in sweet, entrancing strains, but no gentle note finds its way to their hearts.

Too many Christian mourners fail to find comfort in their sorrow. They
believe the great truths of Christianity, that Jesus died for them and rose
again; but their faith fails them for the time in the hour of sorest distress.
Meanwhile they walk in darkness as Thomas did. On the other hand, those
who accept, and let into their hearts the great truths of Christ’s resurrection
and the immortal life in Christ, feel the pain of parting no less sorely, but
they find abundant consolation in the hope of eternal life for those whom
they have lost for a time.

We have an illustration of the deep, tender, patient, and wise friendship of
Jesus for Thomas in the way he treated this doubt of his apostle. He did not
say that if Thomas could not believe the witness of the apostles to his
resurrection he must remain in the darkness which his unbelief had made
for him. He treated his doubt with exceeding gentleness, as a skilful
physician would deal with a dangerous wound. He was in no haste. A full
week passed before he did anything. During those days the sad heart had
time to react, to recover something of its self-poise. Thomas still persisted
in his refusal to believe, but when a week had gone he found his way with
the others to their meeting. Perhaps their belief in the Lord’s resurrection
made such a change in them, so brightened and transformed them, that
Thomas grew less positive in his unbelief as he saw them day after day. At
least he was ready now to be convinced. He wanted to believe.

That night Jesus came again into the room, the doors being shut, and
standing in the midst of his friends, breathed again upon them his
benediction of peace. Then he turned to Thomas; and holding out his hands,

CHAPTER VIII.

with the print of the nails in them, he asked him to put the evidences of his
resurrection to the very tests he had said he must make before he could
believe. Now Thomas was convinced. He did not make the tests he had
insisted that he must make. There was no need for it. To look into the face
of Jesus, to hear his voice, and to see the prints of the nails in his hands,
was evidence enough even for Thomas. All his doubts were swept away.
Falling at the Master’s feet, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Thus the gentleness of Jesus in dealing with his doubts saved Thomas from
being an unbeliever. It is a great thing to have a wise and faithful friend
when one is passing through an experience of doubt. Many persons are only
confirmed in their scepticism by the well-meant but unwise efforts that are
made to convince them of the truth concerning which they doubt. It is not
argument that they need, but the patience of love, which waits in silence till
the right time comes for words, and which then speaks but little. Thomas
was convinced, not by words, but by seeing the proofs of Christ’s love in
the prints of the nails.

We may be glad now that Thomas was hard to convince of the truth of
Christ’s resurrection. It makes the proofs more indubitable to us that one
even of the apostles refused at first to believe, and yet at length was led into
triumphant faith. If all the apostles had believed easily, there would have
been no comfort in the gospel for those who find it hard to believe, and yet
who sincerely want to believe. The fact that one doubted, and even refused
to accept the witness of his fellow-apostles, and then at length was led into
clear, strong faith, forever teaches that doubt is not hopeless. Ofttimes it
may be but a process in the development of faith.

The story of Thomas shows, too, that there may be honest doubt. While he
doubted, he yet loved; perhaps no other one of the apostles loved Jesus
more than did Thomas. He never made any such bold confession as Peter
did, but neither did he ever deny Christ. Thomas has been a comfort to
many because he has shown them that they can be true Christians, true
lovers of Christ, and yet not be able to boast of their assurance of faith.

CHAPTER VIII.

No doubt faith is better than questioning, but there may be honest
questioning which yet is intensely loyal to Christ. Questioning, too, which
is eager to find the truth and rest on the rock, may be better than easy
believing, that takes no pains to know the reason of the hope it cherishes,
and lightly recites the noble articles of a creed it has never seriously
studied. Tennyson, in “In Memoriam,” tells the story of a faith that grew
strong through its doubting.

You say, but with no touch of scorn, Sweet-hearted, you, whose light-blue
eyes Are tender over drowning flies, You tell me, doubt is devil-born.

I know not: one indeed I knew In many a subtle question versed, Who
touched a jarring lyre at first, But ever strove to make it true:

Perplext in faith, but pure in deeds, At last he beat his music out. There
lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.

He fought his doubts and gathered strength; He would not make his
judgment blind, He faced the spectres of the mind And laid them: thus he
came at length

To find a stronger faith his own; And power was with him in the night,
Which makes the darkness and the light, And dwells not in the light alone,

But in the darkness and the cloud, As over Sinai’s peaks of old, While Israel
made their gods of gold, Although the trumpet blew so loud.

That which saved Thomas was his deep, strong friendship for Christ. “The
characteristic of Thomas,” says Ian Maclaren, “is not that he doubted,–that
were an easy passport to religion,–but that he doubted and loved. His doubt
was the measure of his love; his doubt was swallowed up in love.” If
friendship for Christ be loyal and true, we need not look upon questioning
as disloyalty; it may be but love finding the way up the rugged
mountain-side to the sunlit summit of a glorious faith. There is a scepticism
whose face is toward wintriness and death; but there is a doubt which is
looking toward the sun and toward all blessedness.

CHAPTER VIII.

Thomas teaches us that one may look on the dark side and yet be a
Christian, an ardent lover of Jesus, ready to die for him. But we must admit
that this is not the best way to live. No one would say that Thomas was the
ideal among the apostles, that his character was the most beautiful, his life
the noblest and the best. Faith is better than doubt, and confidence better
than questioning. It is better to be a sunny Christian, rejoicing, songful,
happy, than a sad, gloomy, despondent Christian. It makes one’s own life
sweeter and more beautiful. Then it makes others happier. A gloomy
Christian casts dark shadows wherever he goes; a sunny Christian is a
benediction to every life he touches.

CHAPTER IX.

CHAPTER IX.

JESUS’ UNREQUITED FRIENDSHIPS.

“Friend, my feet bleed. Open thy door to me and comfort me.” I will not
open; trouble me no more. Go on thy way footsore; I will not rise and open
unto thee. “Then it is nothing to thee? Open, see Who stands to plead with
thee. Open, lest I should pass thee by, and thou One day entreat my face
And howl for grace, And I be deaf as thou art now. Open to me.”
CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.

There is a great deal of unrequited love in this world. There are hearts that
love with all the strength of purest and holiest affection, whose love seems
to meet no requital. There is much unrequited mother-love and father-love.
Parents live for their children. In helpless infancy they begin to pour out
their affection on them. They toil for them, suffer for them, deny
themselves to provide comforts for them, bear their burdens, watch beside
them when they are sick, pray for them, and teach them. Parent-love is
likest God’s love of all earthly affections. It is one of the things in humanity
which at its best seems to have come from the Fall almost unimpaired.
Much parent-love is worthily honored and fittingly requited. Few things in
this world are more beautiful than the devotion of children to parents which
one sees in some homes. But not always is there such return. Too often is
this almost divine love unrequited.

Much philanthropic love also is unrequited. There are men who spend all
their life in doing good, and then meet no return. Men have served their
country with loyalty and disinterestedness, and have received no
reward–perhaps have been left to suffering, and have died in poverty,
neglected and forgotten; too often have lain in prison, or been put to death,
or exiled by the country which was indebted to their patriotism and loyal
service for much of its glory and greatness. Many hearts break because of
men’s ingratitude.

Jesus was the world’s greatest benefactor. No other man ever loved the
race, or could have loved it, as he did. He was the divine messenger who

CHAPTER IX.

came to save the world. His whole life was a revealing of love. It was the
love of God too,–a love of infinite depth and strength and tenderness, and
not any merely human love, however rich and faithful it might be, that was
manifested in Jesus Christ. Yet much of his wonderful love was unrequited.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew
him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” A few
individuals recognized him and accepted his love; but the great masses of
the people paid him no heed, saw no beauty in him, rejected the blessings
he bore and proffered to all, and let his love waste itself in unavailing
yearnings and beseechings. Then one cruel day they nailed him on a cross,
thinking to quench the affection of his mighty heart.

There are many illustrations of the unrequiting of the holy friendship of
Jesus. The treatment he received at Nazareth was one instance. He had been
brought up among the people. They had seen his beautiful life during the
thirty years he had lived in the village. They had known him as a child
when he played in their streets. They had known him as a youth and young
man in his noble strength. They had known him as a carpenter when day
after day he wrought among them in humble toil.

It is interesting to think of the sinless life of Jesus all these years. There was
no halo about his head but the shining of manly character. There were no
miracles wrought by his hands but the miracles of duty, faithful service,
and gentle kindness. Yet we cannot doubt that his life in Nazareth was one
of rare grace and beauty, marked by perfect unselfishness and great
helpfulness.

By and by he went away from Nazareth to begin his public ministry as the
Messiah. From that time the people saw him no more. The carpenter shop
was closed, and the tools lay unused on the bench. The familiar form
appeared no more on the streets. A year or more passed, and one day he
came back to visit his old neighbors. He stayed a little while, and on the
Sabbath was at the village church as had been his wont when his home was
at Nazareth. When the opportunity was given him, he unrolled the Book of
Isaiah, and read the passage which tells of the anointing of the Messiah, and
gives the wonderful outline of his ministry. When he had finished the

CHAPTER IX.

reading, he told the people that this prophecy was now fulfilled in their
ears. That is, he said that he was the Messiah whose anointing and work the
prophet had foretold. For a time the people listened spellbound to his
gracious words, and then they began to grow angry, that he whom they
knew as the carpenter of their village should make such an astounding
claim. They rose up in wrath, thrust him out of the synagogue, and would
have hurled him over the precipice had he not eluded them and gone on his
way.

He had come to them in love, bearing rich blessings; but they drove him
away with the blessings. He had come to heal their sick, to cure their blind
and lame, to cleanse their lepers, to comfort their sorrowing ones; but he
had to go away and leave these works of mercy unwrought, while the
sufferers continued to bear their burdens. His friendship for his old
neighbors was unrequited.

Another instance of unrequited friendship in the life of Jesus was in the
case of the rich young man who came to him. He had many excellent traits
of character, and was also an earnest seeker after the truth. We are
distinctly told that Jesus loved him. Thus he belongs with Martha and Mary
and Lazarus, of whom the same was said. But here, again, the love was
unrequited. The young man was deeply interested in Jesus, and wanted to
go with him; but he could not pay the price, and turned and went away.

It is interesting to think what might have been the result if he had chosen
Christ and gone with him. He might have occupied an important place in
the early church, and his name might have lived through all future
generations. But he loved his money too much to give it up for Christ, and
rejected the way of the cross marked out for him. He refused the friendship
of Jesus, and thus threw away all that was best in life. In shutting love out
of his heart, he shut himself out from love.

Of all the examples of unrequited friendship in the story of Jesus, that of
Judas is the saddest. We do not know the beginning of the story of his
discipleship, when Judas first came to Jesus, or who brought him. But he
must have been a follower some time before he was chosen to be an

CHAPTER IX.

apostle. Jesus thought over the names of those who had left all to be with
him. Then after a night of prayer he chose twelve of these to be his special
messengers and witnesses. He loved them all, and took them into very close
relations.

Think what a privilege it was for these men to live with Jesus. They heard
all his words. They saw every phase of his life. Some friends it is better not
to know too intimately. They are not as good in private as they are in
public. Their life does not bear too close inspection. We discover in them
dispositions, habits, ways, tempers, feelings, motives, which dim the lustre
we see in them at greater distance. Intimacy weakens the friendship. But,
on the other hand, there are those who, the more we see of their private life,
the more we love them. Close association reveals loveliness of character,
fineness of spirit, richness of heart, sweetness of disposition–habits,
feelings, tempers, noble self-denials, which add to the attractiveness of the
life and the charm of our friend’s personality. We may be sure that intimacy
with Jesus only made him appear all the more winning and beautiful to his
friends. Judas lived in the warmth of this wondrous love, under the
influence of this gracious personality, month after month. He witnessed the
pure and holy life of Jesus in all its manifold phases, heard his words, and
saw his works. Doubtless, too, in his individual relation with the Master, he
received many marks of affection and personal friendship.

A careful reading of the Gospels shows that Judas was frequently warned of
the very sin which in the end wrought his ruin. Continually Jesus spoke of
the danger of covetousness. In the Sermon on the Mount he exhorted his
disciples to lay up their treasure, not upon earth, but in heaven, and said
that no one could serve God and mammon. It was just this that Judas was
trying to do. In more than one parable the danger of riches was emphasized.
Can we doubt that in all these reiterations and warnings on the one subject,
Judas was in the Master’s mind? He was trying in the faithfulness of loyal
friendship to save him from the sin which was imperilling his very life.

But Judas resisted all the mighty love of Christ. It made no impression
upon him; he was unaffected by it. In his heart there grew on meanwhile,
unchecked, unhindered, his terrible greed for money. First it made him a

CHAPTER IX.

thief. The money given to Jesus by his friends to provide for his wants, or
to use for the poor, Judas, who was the treasurer, began at length to purloin
for himself. This was the first step. The next was the selling of his Master
for thirty pieces of silver. This was a more fearful fruit of his nourished
greed than the purloining was. It is bad enough to steal. It is a base form of
stealing which robs a church treasury as Judas did. But to take money as the
price of betraying a friend–could any sin be baser? Could any crime be
blacker than that? To take money as the price of betraying a friend in whose
confidence one has lived for years, at whose table one has eaten day after
day, in the blessing of whose friendship one has rested for months and
years–are there words black enough to paint the infamy of such a deed?

All the participators in the crime of that Good Friday wear a peculiar brand
of infamy as they are portrayed on the pages of history; but among them all,
the most despicable, the one whose name bears the deepest infamy, is
Judas, an apostle turned traitor, for a few miserable coins betraying his best
friend into the hands of malignant foes.

This is the outcome of the friendship of Jesus for Judas; this was the fruit of
those years of affection, cherishing, patient teaching. Think what Judas
might have been. He was chosen and called to be an apostle. There was no
reason in the heart of Jesus why Judas might not have been true and
worthy. Sin is not God’s plan for any life. Treachery and infamy were not in
God’s purpose for Judas. Jesus would not have chosen him for one of the
Twelve if it had not been possible for him to be a good and true man. Judas
fell because he had never altogether surrendered himself to Christ. He tried
to serve God and mammon; but both could not stay in his heart, and instead
of driving out mammon, mammon drove out Christ.

This suggests to us what a battlefield the human heart sometimes is–a
Waterloo where destinies are settled. God or mammon–which? That is the
question every soul must answer. How goes the battle in your soul? Who is
winning on your field–Christ or money? Christ or pleasure? Christ or sin?
Christ or self? Judas lost the battle; the Devil won.

CHAPTER IX.

A picture in Brussels represents Judas wandering about the night after the
betrayal. By chance he comes upon the workmen who have been preparing
the cross for Jesus. A fire burning close by throws its weird light on the
faces of the men who are now sleeping. The face of Judas is somewhat in
the shade; but one sees on it remorse and agony, as the traitor’s eyes fall
upon the cross and the tools which have been used in making it,–the cross
to which his treason had doomed his friend. But though suffering in the
torments of a guilty conscience, he still tightly clutches his money-bag as
he hurries on into the night. The picture tells the story of the fruit of Judas’s
sin,–the money-bag, with eighteen dollars and sixty cents in it, and even
that soon to be cast away in the madness of despair.

Unrequited friendship! Yes; and in shutting out that blessed friendship,
Judas shut out hope. Longfellow puts into his mouth the despairing
words:-

“Lost, lost, forever lost! I have betrayed The innocent blood … * * * Too
late! too late! I shall not see him more Among the living. That sweet,
patient face Will nevermore rebuke me, nor those lips Repeat the words,
‘One of you shall betray me.'”

The great lesson from all this is the peril of rejecting the friendship of Jesus
Christ. In his friendship is the only way to salvation, the only way of
obtaining eternal life. He calls men to come to him, to follow him, to be his
friends; and thus alone can they come unto God, and be received into his
family.

There is something appalling in the revealing which this truth teaches,–the
power each soul possesses of shutting out all the love of God, of resisting
the infinite blessing of the friendship of Christ. It is possible for us to be
near to Christ through all our life, with his grace flowing about us like an
ocean, and yet to have a heart that remains unblessed by divine love. We
may make God’s love in vain, wasted, as sunshine is wasted that falls upon
desert sands, so far as we are concerned. The love that we do not requite
with love, that does not get into our heart to warm, soften, and enrich it, and
to mellow and bless our life, is love poured out in vain. It is made in vain

CHAPTER IX.

by our unbelief. We may make even the dying of Jesus for us in vain,–a
waste of precious life, so far as we are concerned. It is in vain for us that
Jesus died if we do not let his love into our heart.

Ofttimes the unrequiting of human love makes the heart bitter. When holy
friendship has been despised, rejected, and cast away, when one has loved,
suffered, and sacrificed in vain, receiving only ingratitude and wrong in
return for love’s most sacred gifts freely lavished, the danger is that the
heart may lose its sweetness, and grow cold, hard, and misanthropic. But
not thus was the heart of Jesus affected by the unrequiting of his love and
friendship. One Judas in the life of most men would have ended the whole
career of generous kindness, drying up the fountains of affection, thus
robbing those who would come after of the wealth of tenderness which
ought to have been theirs. But through all the unrequiting and resisting of
its love, the heart of Jesus still remained gentle as a mother’s, rich in its
power to love, and sweet in its spirit.

This is one of the great problems of true living,–how to keep the heart
warm, gentle, compassionate, kind, full of affection’s best and truest
helpfulness, even amid life’s hardest experiences. We cannot live and not at
some time suffer wrong. We will meet injustice, however justly we
ourselves may live. We will find a return of ingratitude many a time when
we have done our best for others. Favors rendered are too easily forgotten
by many people. There are few of us who do not remember helping others
in time of great need and distress, only to lose their friendship in the end,
perhaps, as a consequence of our serving them in their need. Sometimes the
only return for costly kindness is cruel unkindness.

It is easy to allow such unrequiting, such ill treatment of love, to embitter
the fountain of the heart’s affection; but this would be to miss the true end
of living, which is to get good and not evil to ourselves from every
experience through which we pass. No ingratitude, injustice, or
unworthiness in those to whom we try to do good, should ever be allowed
to turn love’s sweetness into bitterness in us. Like fresh-water springs
beside the sea, over which the brackish tide flows, but which when the
bitter waters have receded are found sweet as ever, so should our hearts

CHAPTER IX.

remain amid all experiences of love’s unrequiting, ever sweet, thoughtful,
unselfish, and generous.

CHAPTER X.

CHAPTER X.

JESUS AND THE BETHANY SISTERS.

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer, Nor other thought her mind admits
But, he was dead, and there he sits, And he that brought him back is there.

Then one deep love doth supersede All other, when her ardent gaze Roves
from the living brother’s face, And rests upon the Life indeed.
TENNYSON.

The story of Jesus and the Bethany home is intensely interesting. Every
thoughtful Christian has a feeling of gratitude in his heart when he
remembers how much that home added to the comfort of the Master by
means of the hospitality, the shelter, and the love it gave to him. One of the
legends of Brittany tells us that on the day of Christ’s crucifixion, as he was
on his way to his cross, a bird, pitying the weary sufferer bearing his heavy
burden, flew down, and plucked away one of the thorns that pierced his
brow. As it did so, the blood spurted out after the thorn, and splashed the
breast of the bird. Ever since that day the bird has had a splash of red on its
bosom, whence it is called robin-redbreast. Certainly the love of the
Bethany home drew from the breast of Jesus many a thorn, and blessed his
heart with many a joy.

We have three glimpses within the doors of this home when the loved guest
was there. The first shows us the Master and his disciples one day entering
the village. It was Martha who received him. Martha was the mistress of the
house. “She had a sister called Mary,” a younger sister.

Then we have a picture as if some one had photographed the scene. We see
Mary drawing up a low stool, and sitting down at the Master’s feet to listen
to his words. We see Martha hurrying about the house, busy preparing a
meal for the visitors who had come in suddenly. This was a proper thing to
do; it was needful that hospitality be shown. There is a word in the record,
however, which tells us that Martha was not altogether serene as she went
about her work. “Martha was cumbered about much serving.” A marginal

CHAPTER X.

reading gives, “was distracted.”

Perhaps there are many modern Christian housekeepers who would be
somewhat cumbered, or distracted too, if thirteen hungry men dropped in
suddenly some day, and they had to entertain them, preparing them a meal.
Still, the lesson unmistakably is that Martha should not have been fretted;
that she should have kept sweet amid all the pressure of work that so
burdened her.

It was not quite right for her to show her impatience with Mary as she did.
Coming into the room, flushed and excited, and seeing Mary sitting quietly
and unconcernedly at the Rabbi’s feet, drinking in his words, she appealed
to Jesus, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve
alone? bid her therefore that she help me.”

I am not sure that Martha was wrong or unreasonable in thinking that Mary
should have helped her. Jesus did not say she was wrong; he only reminded
Martha that she ought not to let things fret and vex her. “Martha, Martha,
thou art anxious and troubled about many things.” It was not her serving
that he reproved, but the fret that she allowed to creep into her heart.

The lesson is, that however heavy our burdens may be, however hurried or
pressed we may be, we should always keep the peace of Christ in our heart.
This is one of the problems of Christian living,–not to live without cares,
which is impossible, but to keep quiet and sweet in the midst of the most
cumbering care.

At the second mention of the Bethany home there is sore distress in it. A
beloved one is very sick, sick unto death. Few homes are entire strangers to
the experience of those days when the sufferer lay in the burning fever.
Love ministered and prayed and waited. Jesus was far away, but word was
sent to him. He came at length, but seemed to have come too late. “If thou
hadst been here!” the sisters said, each separately, when they met the
Master. But we see now the finished providence, not the mere fragment of
it which the sisters saw; and we know he came at the right time. He
comforted the mourners, and then he blotted out the sorrow, bringing back

CHAPTER X.

joy to the home.[1]

The third picture of this home shows us a festal scene. A dinner was given
in honor of Jesus. It was only a few days before his death. Here, again, the
sisters appear, each true to her own character. Martha is serving, as she
always is; and again Mary is at Jesus’ feet. This time she is showing her
wonderful love for the friend who has done so much for her. The ointment
she pours upon him is an emblem of her heart’s pure affection.

Mary’s act was very beautiful. Love was the motive. Without love no
service, however great or costly, is of any value in heaven’s sight. The
world may applaud, but angels turn away with indifference when love is
lacking. “If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor … but have not love, it
profiteth me nothing.” But love makes the smallest deed radiant as angel
ministry. We need not try doing things for Christ until we love him. It
would be like putting rootless rods in a garden-bed, expecting them to grow
into blossoming plants. Love must be the root. It was easy for Mary to
bring her alabaster box, for her heart was full of overmastering love.

Service is the fruit of love. It is not all of its fruit. Character is part too. If
we love Christ, we will have Christ’s beauty in our soul. Mary grew
wondrously gentle and lovely as Christ’s words entered her heart.
Friendship with Christ makes us like Christ. But there will be service too.
Love is like light, it cannot be hid. It cannot be shut up in the heart. It will
not be imprisoned and restrained. It will live and speak and act. Love in the
heart of Jesus brought him from heaven down to earth to be the lost world’s
Redeemer. Love in his apostles took them to the ends of the earth to tell the
gospel story to the perishing.

It is not enough to try to hew and fashion a character into the beauty of
holiness, until every feature of the image of Christ shines in the life, as the
sculptor shapes the marble into the form of his vision. The most radiant
spiritual beauty does not make one a complete Christian. It takes service to
fill up the measure of the stature of Christ. The young man said he had kept
all the commandments from his youth. “One thing thou lackest,” said the
Master; “sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor.” Service of love was

CHAPTER X.

needed to make that morally exemplary life complete.

The lesson is needed by many Christian people. They are good, with
blameless life, flawless character, consistent conduct; but they lack one
thing,–service. Love for Christ should always serve. There is a story of a
friar who was eager to win the favor of God, and set to work to illuminate
the pages of the Apocalypse, after the custom of his time. He became so
absorbed in his delightful occupation that he neglected the poor and the
sick who were suffering and dying in the plague. He came at last, in the
course of his work, to the painting of the face of his Lord in the glory of his
second coming; but his hand had lost its skill. He wondered why it was, and
realized that it was because, in his eagerness to paint his pictures, he had
neglected his duty of serving.

Rebuffed and humiliated by the discovery, the friar drew his cowl over his
head, laid aside his brushes, and went down among the sick and dying to
minister to their needs. He wrought on, untiringly, until he himself was
smitten with the fatal plague. Then he tottered back to his cell and to his
easel, to finish his loved work before he died. He knelt in prayer to ask
help, when, lo! he saw that an angel’s hand had completed the picture of the
glorified Lord, and in a manner far surpassing human skill.

It is only a legend, but its lesson is well worthy our serious thought. Too
many people in their life as Christians, while they strive to excel in
character, in conduct, and in the beautiful graces of disposition, and to do
their work among men faithfully, are forgetting meanwhile the law of love
which bids every follower of Christ go about doing good as the Master did.
To be a Christian is far more than to be honest, truthful, sober, industrious,
and decorous; it is also to be a cross-bearer after Jesus; to love men, and to
serve them. Ofttimes it is to leave your fine room, your favorite work, your
delightful companionship, your pet self-indulgence, and to go out among
the needy, the suffering, the sinning, to try to do them good. The monk
could not paint the face of the Lord while he was neglecting those who
needed his ministrations and went unhelped because he came not. Nor can
any Christian paint the face of the Master in its full beauty on his soul while
he is neglecting any service of love.

CHAPTER X.

We may follow a little the story of what happened after Mary brought her
alabaster box. Some of the disciples of Jesus were angry. There always are
some who find fault with the way other people show their love for Christ. It
is so even in Christian churches. One member criticises what another does,
or the way he does it. It will be remembered that it was Judas who began
this blaming of Mary. He said the ointment would better have been sold,
and the proceeds given to the poor. St. John tells us very sadly the real
motive of this pious complaining; not that Judas cared for the poor, but that
he was a thief, and purloined the money given for the poor.

Jesus came to Mary’s defence very promptly, and in a way that must have
wonderfully comforted her hurt heart. It is a grievous sin against another to
find fault with any sweet, beautiful serving of Jesus which the other may
have done. Christ’s defence and approval of Mary should be a comfort to all
who find their deeds of love criticised or blamed by others.

“Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.”
The disciples had said it was a waste. That is what some persons say about
much that is done for Christ. The life is wasted, they say, which is poured
out in self-denials and sacrifices to bless others. But really the wasted lives
are those which are devoted to pleasure and sin. Those who live a merely
worldly life are wasting what it took the dying of Jesus to redeem. Oh, how
pitiful much of fashionable, worldly life must appear to the angels!

“She hath done what she could.” That was high praise. She had brought her
best to her Lord. Perhaps some of us make too much of our little acts and
trivial sacrifices. Little things are acceptable if they are really our best. But
Mary’s deed was not a small one. The ointment she brought was very
costly. She did not use just a little of this precious nard, but poured it all out
on the head and feet of Jesus. “What she could” was the best she had to
give.

We may take a lesson. Do we always give our best to Christ? He gave his
best for us, and is ever giving his best to us. Do we not too often give him
only what is left after we have served ourselves? Then we try to soothe an
uneasy conscience by quoting the Master’s commendation of Mary, “She

CHAPTER X.

hath done what she could.” Ah, Mary’s “what she could” was a most costly
service. It was the costliest of all her possessions that she gave. The word
of Jesus about her and her gift has no possible comfort for us if our little is
not our best. The widow’s mites were her best, small though the money
value was–she gave all she had. The poor woman’s cup of cold water was
all she could give. But if we give only a trifle out of our abundance, we are
not doing what we could.

It is worthy of notice that the alabaster box itself was broken in this holy
service. Nothing was kept back. Broken things have an important place in
the Bible. Gideon’s pitchers were broken as his men revealed themselves to
the enemy. Paul and his companions escaped from the sea on broken pieces
of the ship. It is the broken heart that God accepts. The body of Jesus was
broken that it might become bread of life for the world. Out of sorrow’s
broken things God builds up radiant beauty. Broken earthly hopes become
ofttimes the beginnings of richest heavenly blessings. We do not get the
best out of anything until it is broken.

“They tell me I must bruise The rose’s leaf Ere I can keep and use Its
fragrance brief.

They tell me I must break The skylark’s heart Ere her cage song will make
The silence start.

They tell me love must bleed, And friendship weep, Ere in my deepest need
I touch that deep.

Must it be always so With precious things? Must they be bruised, and go
With beaten wings?

Ah, yes! By crushing days, By caging nights, by scar Of thorns and stony
ways, These blessings are.”

Even sorrow is not too great a price to pay for the blessings which can
come only through grief and pain. We must not be afraid to be broken if
that is God’s will; that is the way God would make us vessels meet for his

CHAPTER X.

service. Only by breaking the alabaster vase can the ointment that is in it
give out its rich perfume.

“She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying.” I like the word
aforehand. Nicodemus, after Jesus was dead, brought a large quantity of
spices and ointments to put about his body when it was laid to rest in the
tomb. That was well; it was a beautiful deed. It honored the Master. We
never can cease to be grateful to Nicodemus, whose long-time shy love at
last found such noble expression, in helping to give fitting burial to him
whom we love so deeply. But Mary’s deed was better; she brought her
perfume aforehand, when it could give pleasure, comfort, and
strengthening, to the Master in his time of deepest sorrow. We know that
his heart was gladdened by the act of love. It made his spirit a little stronger
for the events of that last sad week. “She hath wrought a good work on
me.”

We should get a lesson in friendship’s ministry. Too many wait until those
they love are dead, and then bring their alabaster boxes of affection and
break them. They keep silent about their love when words would mean so
much, would give such cheer, encouragement, and hope, and then, when
the friend lies in the coffin, their lips are unsealed, and speak out their
glowing tribute on ears that heed not the laggard praise.

Many persons go through life, struggling bravely with difficulty,
temptation, and hardship, carrying burdens too heavy for them, pouring out
their love in unselfish serving of others, and yet are scarcely ever cheered
by a word of approval or commendation, or by delicate tenderness of
friendship; then, when they lie silent in death, a whole circle of admiring
friends gathers to do them honor. Every one remembers a personal kindness
received, a favor shown, some help given, and speaks of it in grateful
words. Letters full of appreciation, commendation, and gratitude are written
to sorrowing friends. Flowers are sent and piled about the coffin, enough to
have strewn every hard path of the long years of struggle. How surprised
some good men and women would be, after lives with scarcely a word of
affection to cheer their hearts, were they to awake suddenly in the midst of
their friends, a few hours after their death, and hear the testimonies that are

CHAPTER X.

falling from every tongue, the appreciations, the grateful words of love, the
rememberings of kindness! They had never dreamed in life that they had so
many friends, that so many had thought well of them, that they were helpful
to so many.

After a long and worthy life, given up to lowly ministry, a good clergyman
was called home. Soon after his death, there was a meeting of his friends,
and many of them spoke of his beautiful life. Incidents were given showing
how his labors had been blessed. Out of full hearts one after another gave
grateful tribute of love. The minister’s widow was present; and when all the
kindly words had been spoken, she thanked the friends for what they had
said. Then she asked, amid her tears, “But why did you never tell him these
things while he was living?”

Yes, why not? He had wrought for forty years in a most unselfish way. He
had poured out his life without stint. He had carried his people in his heart
by day and by night, never sparing himself in any way when he could be of
use to one of God’s children. His people were devoted to him, loved him,
and appreciated his labors. Yet rarely, all those years, had any of them told
him of the love that was in their hearts for him, or of their gratitude for
service given or good received. He was conscious of the Master’s approval,
and this cheered him,–it was the commendation he sought; but it would
have comforted him many a time, and made the burdens seem lighter and
the toil easier and the joy of serving deeper, if his people–those he loved
and lived for, and helped in so many ways–had sometimes told him how
much he was to them.

All about us move, these common days, those who would be strengthened
and comforted by the good cheer which we could give. Let us not reserve
all the flowers for coffin-lids. Let us not keep our alabaster boxes sealed
and unbroken till our loved ones are dead. Let us show kindness when
kindness will do good. It will make sorrow all the harder to bear if we have
to say beside our dead, “I might have brightened the way a little if only I
had been kinder.”

CHAPTER X.

It was wonderful honoring which Jesus gave to Mary’s deed, when he said
that wherever the gospel should be preached throughout the whole world
the story of this anointing should be told. So, right in among the memorials
of his own death, this ministry of love is enshrined. As the odor of the
ointment filled all the room where the guests sat at table, so the aroma of
Mary’s love fills all the Christian world to-day. The influence of her deed,
with the Master’s honoring of it, has shed a benediction on countless
homes, making hearts gentler, and lives sweeter and truer.

[1] For a fuller treatment of this incident, see Chapter XI.

CHAPTER XI.

CHAPTER XI.

JESUS COMFORTING HIS FRIENDS.

Not all regret, the face will shine Upon me while I muse alone; And that
dear voice, I once have known, Still speak to me of me and mine:

Yet less of sorrow lives in me For days of happy commune dead; Less
yearning for the friendship fled, Than some strong bond which is to be.
TENNYSON.

A gospel with no comfort for sorrow would not meet the deepest needs of
human hearts. If Jesus were a friend only for bright hours, there would be
much of experience into which he could not enter. But the gospel breathes
comfort on every page; and Jesus is a friend for lonely hours and times of
grief and pain, as well as for sunny paths and days of gladness and song. He
went to a marriage feast, and wrought his first miracle to prolong the
festivity; but he went also to the home of grief, and turned its sorrow into
joy.

It is well worth our while to study Jesus as a comforter, to learn how he
comforted his friends. For one thing, it will teach us how to find
consolation when we are in trouble. This is a point at which, with many
Christians, the gospel seems oftenest to fail. In the days of the unbroken
circle and of human gladness, the friends of Jesus rejoice in his love, and
walk in his light with songs; but when ties are broken, and grief enters the
home, the hearts that were so full of praise refuse to take the consolation of
the gospel. This ought not so to be. If we knew Christ as a comforter, we
would sing our songs of trust even in the night.

Another help that we may get from such a study of Jesus will be power to
become a true comforter of others. This every Christian should seek to be,
but this very few Christians really are. Most of us would better stay away
altogether from our friends in their times of sorrow, than go to them as we
do. Instead of being comforters to make them stronger to endure, we only
make their grief seem bitterer, and their loss more unendurable, doing them

CHAPTER XI.

harm instead of good. This is because we have not learned the art of giving
comfort. Our Master should be our teacher; and if we study his method, we
shall know how to be a blessing to our friends in their times of loss and
pain.

Much of the ministry of Jesus was with those who were in trouble. There
was one special occasion, however, when there was a great sorrow in the
circle of his best friends. We may learn many lessons if we read over
thoughtfully the story of the way Jesus comforted them.

It was the Bethany home. Before the sorrow came, Jesus was a familiar
guest, a close and intimate friend of the members of the household. He
always had kindly welcome and generous hospitality when he came to their
door. They did not make his acquaintance for the first time when their
hearts were broken. They had known him for a long time, and had listened
to his gracious words when there was no grief in their home. This made it
easy to turn to him and to receive his comfort when the dark days of sorrow
came.

There are some who think of Christ only as a friend whom they will need in
trouble. In their time of unbroken gladness they do not seek his friendship.
Then, when trouble comes suddenly, they do not know how or where to
find the Comforter. Wiser far are they who take Christ into their life in the
glad days when the joy is unbroken. He blesses their joy. A happy home is
all the happier because Jesus is a familiar guest in it. Love is all the sweeter
because of his benediction. Then, when sorrow’s shadow falls, there is light
in the darkness.

There seems to be no need of the stars in the daytime, for the sunshine then
floods all earth’s paths. But when the sun goes down, and God’s great
splendor of stars appears hanging over us, dropping their soft, quiet light
upon us, how glad we are that they were there all the while, waiting to be
revealed! So it is that the friendship of Jesus in the happy years hangs
above our heads the stars of heavenly comfort. We do not seem to need
them at the time, and we scarcely know that they are there; we certainly
have no true realization of the blessing that hides in the shining words. But

CHAPTER XI.

when, one sad day, the light of human joy is suddenly darkened, then the
divine comforts reveal themselves. We do not have to hasten here and there
in pitiable distress, trying to find consolation, for we have it already in the
love and grace of Christ. The Friend we took into our life in the joy-days
stands close beside us now in our sadness, and his friendship never before
seemed so precious, so tender, so divine.

When Lazarus fell sick, Jesus was in another part of the country. As the
case grew hopeless, the sisters sent a message to Jesus to say, “He whom
thou lovest is sick.” The message seems remarkable. There was no urgency
expressed in it, no wild, passionate pleading that Jesus would hasten to
come. Its few words told of the quietness and confidence of trusting hearts.
We get a lesson concerning the way we should pray when we are in
distress. “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of,” and there is
no need for piteous clamor. Far better is the prayer of faith, which lays the
burden upon the divine heart, and leaves it there without anxiety. It is
enough, when a beloved one is lying low, to say, “Lord, he whom thou
lovest is sick.”

We are surprised, as we read the narrative, that Jesus did not respond
immediately to this message from his friends. But he waited two days
before he set out for Bethany. We cannot tell why he did this, but there is
something very comforting in the words that tell us of the delay. “Now
Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When, therefore, he heard
that Lazarus was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he
was.” In some way the delay was because of his love for all the household.
Perhaps the meaning is that through the dying of Lazarus blessing would
come to them all.

At length he reached Bethany. Lazarus had been dead four days. The family
had many friends; and their house was filled with those who had come,
after the custom of the times, to console them. Jesus lingered at some
distance from the house, perhaps not caring to enter among those who in
the conventional way were mourning with the family. He wished to meet
the sorrowing sisters in a quiet place alone. So he tarried outside the
village, probably sending a message to Martha, telling her that he was

CHAPTER XI.

coming. Soon Martha met him.

We may think of the eagerness of her heart to get into his presence when
she heard that he was near. What a relief it must have been to her, after the
noisy grief that filled her home, to get into the quiet, peaceful presence of
Jesus! He was not disturbed. His face was full of sympathy, and it was easy
to see there the tokens of deep and very real grief, but his peace was not
broken. He was calm and composed. Martha must have felt herself at once
comforted by his mere presence. It was quieting and reassuring.

The first thing to do when we need comfort is to get into the presence of
Christ. Human friendship means well when it hastens to us in our sorrow. It
feels that it must do something for us, that to stay away and do nothing
would be unkindness. Then, when it comes, it feels that it must talk, and
must talk about our sorrow. It feels that it must go over all the details,
questioning us until it seems as if our heart would break with answering.
Our friends think that they must explore with us all the depths of our grief,
dwelling upon the elements that are specially poignant. The result of all this
“comforting” is that our burden of sorrow is made heavier instead of
lighter, and we are less brave and strong than before to bear it. If we would
be truly comforted we would better flee away to Christ; for in his presence
we shall find consolation, which gives peace and strength and joy.

It is worth our while to note the comfort which Jesus gave to these
sorrowing sisters. First, he lifted the veil, and gave them a glimpse of what
lies beyond death. “Thy brother shall rise again.” “I am the resurrection,
and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live: and
whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.” Thus he opened a
great window into the other world. It is plainer to us than it could be to
Martha and Mary; for a little while after he spoke these words, Jesus
himself passed through death, coming again from the grave in immortal
life. It is a wonderful comfort to those who sorrow over the departure of a
Christian friend to know the true teaching of the New Testament on the
subject of dying. Death is not the end; it is a door which leads into fulness
of life.

CHAPTER XI.

Perhaps many in bereavement, though believing the doctrine of a future
resurrection, fail to get present comfort from it. Jesus assured Martha that
her brother should rise again. “Yes, I know that he shall rise again in the
resurrection at the last day.” Her words show that this hope was too distant
to give her much comfort. Her sense of present loss outweighed every other
thought and feeling. She craved back again the companionship she had lost.
Who that has stood by the grave of a precious friend has not experienced
the same feeling of inadequateness in the consolation that comes from even
the strongest belief in a far-off rising again of all who are in their graves?

The reply of Jesus to Martha’s hungry heart-cry was very rich in its
comfort. “I am the resurrection.” This is one of the wonderful present tenses
of Christian hope. Martha had spoken of a resurrection far away. “I am the
resurrection,” Jesus declared. It was something present, not remote. His
words embrace the whole blessed truth of immortal life. “Whosoever liveth
and believeth on me shall never die.” There is no death for those who are in
Christ. The body dies, but the person lives on. The resurrection may be in
the future, but really there is no break in the life of a believer in Christ. He
is not here; our eyes see him not, our ears hear not his voice, we cannot
touch him with our hands, but he still lives and thinks and feels and loves.
No power in his being has been quenched by dying, no beauty dimmed, no
faculty destroyed.

This is a part of the comfort which Jesus gave to his friends in their
bereavement. He assured them that there is no death, that all who believe in
him have eternal life. There remains for those who stay here the pain of
separation and of loneliness, but for those who have passed over we need
have no fear.

How does Jesus comfort his friends who are left? As we read over the story
of the sorrow of the Bethany home we find the answer to our question. You
say, “He brought back their dead, thus comforting them with the literal
undoing of the work of death and grief. If only he would do this now, in
every case where love cries to him, that would be comfort indeed.” But we
must remember that the return of Lazarus to his home was only a temporary
restoration. He came back to the old life of mortality, of temptation, of

CHAPTER XI.

sickness and pain and death. He came back only for a season. It was not a
resurrection to immortal life; it was only a restoration to mortal life. He
must pass again through the mystery of dying, and his sisters must a second
time experience the agony of separation and loneliness. We can scarcely
call it comfort; it was merely a postponement for a little while of the final
separation.

But Jesus gave the sisters true consoling besides this. His mere presence
brought them comfort. They knew that he loved them. Many times before
when he had entered their home he had brought a benediction. They had a
feeling of security and peace in his presence. Even their inconsolable grief
lost something of its poignancy when the light of his face fell upon them.
Every strong, tender, and true human love has a wondrous comforting
power. We can pass through a sore trial if a trusted friend is beside us. The
believer can endure any sorrow if Jesus is with him.

Another element of comfort for these sorrowing sisters was in the sympathy
of Jesus. He showed this sympathy with them in coming all the way from
Perea, to be with them in their time of distress. He showed it in his bearing
toward them and his conversation with them. There is a wonderful
gentleness in his manner as he receives first one and then the other sister.
Mary’s grief was deeper than Martha’s; and when Jesus saw her weeping,
and her friends who were with her weeping, he groaned in the spirit and
was troubled. Then, in the shortest verse in the Bible, we have a window
into the very heart of Christ, and find there most wonderful sympathy.

“Jesus wept.” It is a great comfort in time of sorrow to have even human
sympathy, to know that somebody cares, that some one feels with us. The
measure of the comfort in such cases is in proportion to the honor in which
we hold the person. It would have had something–very much–of comfort
for the sisters, if John or Peter or James had wept with them beside their
brother’s grave. But the tears of Jesus meant incalculably more; they told of
the holiest sympathy that this world ever saw–the Son of God wept with
two sisters in a great human sorrow.

CHAPTER XI.

This shortest verse was not written merely as a fragment of a narrative–it
contains a revealing of the heart of Jesus for all time. Wherever a friend of
Jesus is sorrowing, One stands by, unseen, who shares the grief, whose
heart feels every pang of the sorrow. There is immeasurable comfort in this
thought that the Son of God suffers with us in our suffering, is afflicted in
all our affliction. We can endure our trouble more quietly when we know
that God understands all about it.

There is yet another thing in the manner of Christ’s comforting his friends
which is very suggestive. His sympathy was not a mere sentiment. Too
often human sympathy is nothing but a sentiment. Our friends cry with us,
and then pass by on the other side. They tell us they are sorry for us, but
they do nothing to help us. The sympathy of Jesus at Bethany was very
practical. Not only did he show his love to his friends by coming away
from his work in another province, to be with them in their sore trouble; not
only did he speak to them words of divine comfort, words which have
made a shining track through the world ever since; not only did he weep
with them in their grief,–but he wrought the greatest of all his many
miracles to restore the joy of their hearts and their home. It was a costly
miracle, too, for it led to his own death.

Yet, knowing well what would come from this ministry of friendship, he
hesitated not. For some reason he saw that it would be indeed a blessing to
his friends to bring back the dead. It was because he loved the sisters and
the brother that he lingered, and did not hasten when the message reached
him beyond the river. We may be sure, therefore, that the raising of
Lazarus, though only to a little more of the old life of weakness, had a
blessing in it for the family. This was the best way in which Jesus could
show his sympathy, the best comfort he could give his friends.

No doubt thousands of other friends of Jesus in the sorrow of bereavement
have wished that he would comfort them in like way, by giving back their
beloved. Ofttimes he does what is in effect the same,–in answer to the
prayer of faith he spares the lives of those who are dear. When we pray for
our sick friends, we only ask submissively that they may recover. “Not my
will, but thine be done,” is the refrain of our pleading. Even our most

CHAPTER XI.

passionate longing we subdue in the quiet confidence of our faith. If it is
not best for our dear ones; if it would not be a real blessing; if it is not
God’s way,–then “Thy will be done.” If we pray the prayer of faith, we
must believe that the issue, whatever it may be, is God’s best for us.

If our friend is taken away after such committing of faith to God’s wisdom
and love, there is immeasurable comfort at once in the confidence that it
was God’s will. Then, while no miracle is wrought, bringing back our dead,
the sympathy of Christ yet brings practical consolation. The word comfort
means strengthening. We are helped to bear our sorrow.

The teaching of the Scriptures is that when we come with our trials to God,
he either relieves us of them, or gives us the grace we need to endure them.
He does not promise to lift away the burden that we cast upon him, but he
will sustain us in our bearing of the burden. When the human presence is
taken from us, Christ comes nearer than before, and reveals to us more of
his love and grace.

The problem of sorrow in a Christian life is a very serious one. It is
important that we have a clear understanding upon the subject, that we may
receive blessing and not hurt from our experience. Every sorrow that comes
into our life brings us something good from God; but we may reject the
good, and if we do, we receive evil instead. The comfort God gives is not
the taking away of the trouble, nor is it the dulling of our heart’s
sensibilities so that we shall not feel the pain so keenly. God’s comfort is
strength to endure in the experience. If we put our life into the hands of
Christ in the time of sorrow, and with quiet faith and sweet trust go on with
our duty, all shall be well. If we resist and struggle and rebel, we shall not
only miss the blessing of comfort that is infolded for us in our sorrow, but
we shall receive hurt in our own life. When one is soured and embittered by
trial, one has received hurt rather than blessing; but if we accept our sorrow
with love and trust, we shall come out of it enriched in life and character,
and prepared for better work and greater usefulness.

There is a picture of a woman sitting by the sea in deep grief. The dark
waters have swallowed up her heart’s treasures, and her sorrow is

CHAPTER XI.

inconsolable. Close behind her is an angel striking his harp,–the Angel of
Consolation. But the woman in her stony grief sees not the angel’s shining
form, nor hears the music of his harp. Too often this is the picture in
Christian homes. With all the boundlessness of God’s love and mercy, the
heart remains uncomforted.

This ought not so to be. There is in Jesus Christ an infinite resource of
consolation, and we have only to open our heart to receive it. Then we shall
pass through sorrow sustained by divine help and love, and shall come from
it enriched in character, and blessed in every phase of life. The griefs of our
life set lessons for us to learn. In every pain is the seed of a blessing. In
every tear a rainbow hides. Dr. Babcock puts it well in his lines:-

The dark-brown mould’s upturned By the sharp-pointed plough– And I’ve a
lesson learned.

My life is but a field, Stretched out beneath God’s sky, Some harvest rich to
yield.

Where grows the golden grain? Where faith? Where sympathy? In a furrow
cut by pain.

CHAPTER XII.

CHAPTER XII.

JESUS AND HIS SECRET FRIENDS.

How many souls–his loved ones– Dwell lonely and apart, Hiding from all
but One above The fragrance of their heart. PROCTER.

Not all the friends of Jesus were open friends. No doubt many believed on
him who had not the courage to confess him. Two of his secret friends
performed such an important part at the close of his life, boldly honoring
him, that the story of their discipleship is worthy of our careful study.

One of these is mentioned several times; the other we meet nowhere until
he suddenly emerges from the shadows of his secret friendship, when the
body of Jesus hung dead on the cross, and boldly asks leave to take it away,
and with due honor bury it.

Several facts concerning Joseph are given in the Gospels. He was a rich
man. Thus an ancient prophecy was fulfilled. According to Isaiah, the
Messiah was to make his grave with the rich. This prediction seemed very
unlikely of fulfilment when Jesus hung on the cross dying. He had no
burying-place of his own, and none of his known disciples could provide
him with a tomb among the rich. It looked as if his body must be cast into
the Potter’s Field with the bodies of the two criminals who hung beside
him. Then came Joseph, a rich man, and buried Jesus in his own new tomb.
“He made his grave with the rich.”

Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin. This gave him honor among men,
and he must have been of good reputation to be chosen to so exalted a
position. We are told also that he was a good man and devout, and had not
consented to the counsel and deed of the court in condemning Jesus.
Perhaps he had absented himself from the meeting of the Sanhedrin when
Jesus was before the court. If he were present, he took no part in the
condemning of the prisoner.

CHAPTER XII.

Then it is said further that he was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear
of the Jews.” That is, he was one of the friends of Jesus, believing in his
Messiahship. We have no way of knowing how long he had been a disciple,
but it is evident that the friendship had existed for some time. We may
suppose that Joseph had sought Jesus quietly, perhaps by night, receiving
instruction from him, communing with him, drinking in his spirit; but he
had never yet openly declared his discipleship.

The reason for this hiding of his belief in Jesus is frankly given,–“for fear
of the Jews.” He lacked courage to confess himself “one of this man’s
friends.” We cannot well understand what it would have cost Joseph, in his
high place as a ruler, to say, “I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is our
Messiah.” It is easy for us to condemn him as wanting in courage, but we
must put ourselves back in his place when we think of what he failed to do.
This was before Jesus was glorified. He was a lowly man of sorrows. Many
of the common people had followed him; but it was chiefly to see his
miracles, and to gather benefit for themselves from his power. There was
only a little band of true disciples, and among these were none of the rulers
and great men of the people. There is no evidence that one rabbi, one
member of the Sanhedrin, one priest, one aristocratic or cultured Jew, was
among the followers of Jesus during his life.

It would have taken sublime courage for one of these to confess Jesus as
the Messiah, and the cost of such avowal would have been incalculable. A
number of years later, when Christianity had become an acknowledged
power in the world, St. Paul tells us that he had to suffer the loss of all
things in becoming a Christian. For Joseph, a member of the highest court
of the Jews, to have said to his fellow-members in those days, before the
death of Jesus, “I believe in this Nazarene whom you are plotting to kill,
and I am one of his disciples and friends,” would have taken a courage
which too few men possess.

However, one need not apologize for Joseph. The record frankly admits his
fault, his weakness; for it is never a noble or a manly thing to be afraid of
man or devil when duty is clear. Yet we are told distinctly that he was
really a disciple of Jesus; though it was secretly, and though the reason for

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the secrecy was an unworthy one,–fear of the Jews. Jesus had not refused
his discipleship because of its impairment. He had not said to him, “Unless
you rise up in your place in the court-room, and tell your associates that
you believe in me, and are going to follow me, you cannot be my disciple,
and I will not have you as my friend.” Evidently Jesus had accepted Joseph
as a disciple, even in the shy way he had come to him; and it seems
probable that a close and deep friendship existed between the two men.
Possibly it may have existed for many months; and no doubt Joseph had
been a comfort to Jesus in many ways before his death, although the world
did not know that this noble and honorable councillor was his friend at all.

The other secret friend of Jesus who assisted in his burial was Nicodemus.
It was during the early weeks or months of our Lord’s public ministry that
he came to Jesus for the first time. It is specially mentioned that he came by
night. Nicodemus also was a man of distinction,–a member of the
Sanhedrin and a Pharisee, belonging thus to the class highest in rank among
his people.

A great deal of blame has been charged against Nicodemus because he
came to Jesus by night, but again we must put ourselves back into his
circumstances before we can judge intelligently and fairly of his conduct.
Very few persons believed in Jesus when Nicodemus first sought him by
night. Besides, may not night have been the best time for a public and
prominent man to see Jesus? His days were filled–throngs were always
about him, and there was little opportunity then for earnest and satisfactory
conversation. In the evening Nicodemus could sit down with Jesus for a
long, quiet talk without fear of interruption.

Then Nicodemus came first only as an inquirer. He was not then ready to
be a disciple. “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God,” was
all he could say that first night. He did not concede Jesus’ Messiahship. He
knew him then only by what he had heard of his miracles. He was not ready
yet to declare that the son of the carpenter was the Christ, the Son of God.
When we remember the common Jewish expectations regarding the
Messiah, and then the lowliness of Jesus and the high rank of Nicodemus,
we may understand that it required courage and deep earnestness of soul for

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this “master in Israel” to come at all to the peasant rabbi from Galilee as a
seeker after truth and light. It is scarcely surprising, therefore, that he came
by night.

Then, at that time the teaching and work of Jesus were only beginning.
There had been some miracles, and it is written that because of these many
had believed in the name of Jesus. Already, however, there had been a
sharp conflict with the priests and rulers. Jesus had driven out those who
were profaning the temple by using it for purposes of trade. This act had
aroused intense bitterness against Jesus among the ruling classes to which
Nicodemus belonged. This made it specially hard for any one of the rulers
to come among the friends of Jesus, or to show even the least sympathy
with him.

No doubt Nicodemus in some degree lacked the heroic quality. He was not
a John Knox or a Martin Luther. Each time his name is mentioned he shows
timidity, and a disposition to remain hidden. Even in the noble deed of the
day Jesus died, it is almost certain that Nicodemus was inspired to his part
by the greater courage of Joseph.

Yet we must mark that Jesus said not one word to chide or blame
Nicodemus when he came by night. He accepted him as a disciple, and at
once began to teach him the great truths of his kingdom. We are not told
that the ruler came more than once; but we may suppose that whenever
Jesus was in Jerusalem, Nicodemus sought him under the cover of the
night, and sat at his feet as a learner. Doubtless Jesus and he were friends
all the three years that passed between that first night when they talked of
the new birth, and the day when this noble councillor assisted his
fellow-member of the Sanhedrin in giving honorable and loving burial to
this Teacher come from God.

Once we have a glimpse of Nicodemus in his place in the Sanhedrin. Jesus
has returned to Jerusalem, and multitudes follow him to hear his words.
Many believe on him. The Pharisees and priests are filled with envy that
this peasant from Galilee should have such tremendous influence among
the people. They feel that the power is passing out of their hands, and that

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they must do something to silence the voice the people so love to hear.

A meeting of the Great Council is called to decide what to do. Officers are
sent to arrest Jesus, and bring him to the bar of the court. The officers find
Jesus in the temple, in the midst of an eager throng, to whom he is speaking
in his gracious, winning way. That was the day he said, “If any man thirst,
let him come unto me, and drink.” The officers listen as the wonderful
words fall from his lips, and they, too, become interested; their attention is
enchained; they come under the same spell which holds all the multitude.
They linger till his discourse is ended; and then, instead of arresting him,
they go back without him, only giving to the judges as reason for not
obeying, “Never man spake like this man.”

The members of the court were enraged at this failure of their effort. Even
their own police officers had proved untrue. “Are ye also deceived or led
astray?” they cry in anger. Then they ask, “Have any of the rulers or of the
Pharisees believed on him? But this multitude which knoweth not the law,
are accursed.” They would have it that only the ignorant masses had been
led away by this delusion; none of the great men, the wise men, had
accepted this Nazarene as the Messiah. They did not suspect that at least
one of their own number, possibly two, had been going by night to hear this
young rabbi.

It was a serious moment for Nicodemus. He sat there in the council, and
saw the fury of his brother judges. In his heart he was a friend of Jesus. He
believed that he was the Messiah. Loyalty to his friend, to the truth, and to
his own conscience, demanded that he should cast away the veil he was
wearing, and reveal his faith in Jesus. At least he must say some word on
behalf of the innocent man whom his fellow-members were determined to
destroy. It was a testing-time for Nicodemus, and sore was the struggle
between timidity and a sense of duty. The storm in the court-room was
ready to burst; the council was about taking violent measures against Jesus.
We know not what would have happened if no voice had been lifted for fair
trial before condemnation. But then Nicodemus arose, and in the midst of
the terrible excitement spoke quietly and calmly his few words,-

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“Doth our law judge a man, except it first hear from himself and know what
he doeth?”

It was only a plea for fairness and for justice; but it showed the working of
a heart that would be true to itself, in some measure at least, in spite of its
shyness and shrinking, and in spite of the peril of the hour. The question at
first excited anger and contempt against Nicodemus himself; but it checked
the gathering tides of violence, probably preventing a public outbreak.

We may note progress in the friendship of this secret disciple. During the
two years since he first came to Jesus by night the seed dropped into his
heart that night had been growing silently. Nicodemus was not yet ready to
come out boldly as a disciple of Jesus; but he proved himself the friend of
Jesus, even by the few words he spoke in the council when it required firm
courage to speak at all. “He who at the first could come to Jesus only by
night, now stands by him in open day, and in the face of the most
formidable opposition, before which the courage of the strongest might
have quailed.”

It is beautiful to see young Christians, as the days pass, growing more and
more confident and heroic in their confession of Christ. At first they are
shy, retiring, timid, and disposed to shrink from public revealing of
themselves. But if, as they receive more of the Spirit of God in their heart,
they grow more courageous in speaking for Christ and in showing their
colors, they prove that they are true disciples, learners, growing in grace.

The only other mention of Nicodemus is some months after the heroic word
spoken in the council. What has been going on in his experience,
meanwhile, we do not know. There is no evidence that he has yet declared
himself a follower of Jesus. He is still a secret disciple. But the hidden life
in his heart has still been growing.

One day a terrible thing happened. Jesus was crucified. In their fright and
panic all his friends at first forsook him, some of them, however, gathering
back, with broken hearts, and standing about his cross. But never was there
a more hopeless company of men in this world than the disciples of Jesus

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that Good Friday, when their Master hung upon the cross. They did not
understand the meaning of the cross as we do to-day,–they thought it meant
defeat for all the hopes they had cherished. They stood round the cross in
the despair of hopeless grief.

They were also powerless to do anything to show their love, or to honor the
body of their Friend. They were poor and unknown men, without influence.
None of them had a grave in which the body could be laid. Nor had they
power to get leave to take the body away; it required a name of influence to
get this permission. Their love was equal to anything, but they were
helpless. In the dishonor of that day all the friends of Jesus shared.

What could be done? Soon the three bodies on the crosses would be taken
down by rude hands of heartless men, and cast into the Potter’s Field in an
indistinguishable heap.

No; there is a friend at Pilate’s door. He is a man of rank among the Jews–a
rich man too. He makes a strange request,–he asks leave to take the body of
Jesus away for burial. Doubtless Pilate was surprised that a member of the
court which had condemned Jesus should now desire to honor his body, but
he granted the request; perhaps he was glad thus to end a case which had
cost him so much trouble. Joseph took charge of the burial of the body of
Jesus.

Then came another rich man and joined Joseph. “There came also
Nicodemus, he who at the first came to him by night, bringing a mixture of
myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. So they took the body of
Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews
is to bury.” It certainly is remarkable that the two men who thus met in
honoring the body of Jesus had both been his secret disciples, hidden
friends, who until now had not had courage to avow their friendship and
discipleship.

No doubt there were many other secret friends of Jesus who during his life
did not publicly confess him. The great harvest of the day of Pentecost
brought out many of these for the first time. No doubt there always are

CHAPTER XII. 102

many who love Christ, believe on him, and are following him in secret.
They come to Jesus by night. They creep to his feet when no eye is looking
at them. They cannot brave the gaze of their fellowmen. They are shy and
timid. We may not say one harsh word regarding such disciples. The
Master said not one word implying blame of his secret disciples.

Yet it cannot be doubted that secret discipleship is incomplete. It is not just
to Christ himself that we should receive the blessings of his love and grace,
and not speak of him to the world. We owe it to him who gave himself for
us to speak his name wherever we go, and to honor him in every way.
Secret discipleship does not fulfil love’s duty to the world. If we have found
that which has blessed us richly, we owe it to others to tell them about it.
To hide away in our own heart the knowledge of Christ is to rob those who
do not know of him. It is the worst selfishness to be willing to be saved
alone. Further, secret discipleship misses the fulness of blessing which
comes to him who confesses Christ before men. It is he who believes with
his heart and confesses with his mouth, who has promise of salvation.
Confession is half of faith. Secret discipleship is repressed, restrained,
confined, and is therefore hampered, hindered, stunted discipleship. It never
can grow into the best possible strength and richness of life. It is only when
one stands before the world in perfect freedom, with nothing to conceal,
that one grows into the fullest, loveliest Christlikeness. To have the
friendship of Christ, and to hide it from men is to lose its blessing out of
our own heart.

“To lie by the river of life and see it run to waste, To eat of the tree of
heaven while the nations go unfed, To taste the full salvation–the only one
to taste– To live while the rest are lost–oh, better by far be dead!

For to share is the bliss of heaven, as it is the joy of earth; And the unshared
bread lacks savor, and the wine unshared, lacks zest; And the joy of the
soul redeemed would be little, little worth If, content with its own security,
it could forget the rest.”

In the case of Nicodemus and Joseph, Jesus was very gentle with timidity;
but under the nurture of his gentleness timidity grew into noble courage.

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Yet, beautiful as was their deed that day, who will not say that it came too
late for fullest honoring of the Master? It would have been better if they
had shown their friendship while he was living, to have cheered him by
their love. Mary’s ointment poured upon the tired feet of Jesus before his
death was better than the spices of Nicodemus piled about his body in the
grave.

CHAPTER XIII.

CHAPTER XIII.

JESUS’ FAREWELL TO HIS FRIENDS.

“What meaneth it that we should weep More for our joys than for our
fears,– That we should sometimes smile at grief, And look at pleasure’s
show through tears?

Alas! but homesick children we, Who would, but cannot, play the while We
dream of nobler heritage, Our Father’s house, our Father’s smile.”

At last the end came. The end comes for every earthly friendship. The
sweetest life together of loved ones must have its last walk, its last talk, its
last hand-clasp, when one goes, and the other stays. One of every two
friends must stand by the other’s grave, and drop tears all the hotter because
they are shed alone.

The friendship of Jesus with his disciples was very sweet; it was the
sweetest friendship this world ever knew, for never was there any other
heart with such capacity for loving and for kindling love as the heart of
Jesus. But even this holy friendship in its earthly duration was but for a
time. Jesus’ hour came at last. To-morrow he was going back to his Father.

Very tender was the farewell. The place chosen for it was the upper
room–almost certainly in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. So
full is the narrative of the evangelists that we can follow it through its
minutest details. In the afternoon two of the closest friends of Jesus came
quietly into the city from Bethany to find a room, and prepare for the
Passover. All was done with the utmost secrecy. No inquiry was made for a
room; but a man appeared at a certain point, bearing a pitcher of water,–a
most unusual occurrence,–and the messengers silently followed him, and
thus were led to the house in which was the guest-chamber which Jesus and
his friends were to use. There the two disciples made the preparations
necessary for the Passover.

CHAPTER XIII.

Toward the evening Jesus and the other apostles came, and found their way
to the upper room. First there was the Passover feast, observed after the
manner of the Jews. Then followed the institution of the new memorial–the
Lord’s Supper. This brought the Master and his disciples together in very
sacred closeness. Judas, the one discordant element in the communion, had
gone out, and all who remained were of one mind and one heart. Then
began the real farewell. Jesus was going away, and he longed to be
remembered. This was a wonderfully human desire. No one wishes to be
forgotten. No thought could be sadder than that one might not be
remembered after he is gone, that in no heart his name shall be cherished,
that nowhere any memento of him shall be preserved. We all hope to live in
the love of our friends long after our faces have vanished from earth. The
deeper and purer our love may have been, and the closer our friendship, the
more do we long to keep our place in the hearts of those we have loved.

There are many ways in which men seek to keep their memory alive in the
world. Some build their own tomb: few things are more pathetic than such
planning for earthly immortality. Some seek to do deeds which will live in
history. Some embalm their names in books, hoping thus to perpetuate
them. Love’s enshrining is the best way.

The institution of the Last Supper showed the craving of the heart of Jesus
to be remembered. “Do not forget me when I am gone,” he said. That he
might not be forgotten, he took bread and wine, and, breaking the one and
pouring out the other, he gave them to his friends as mementos of himself.
He associated this farewell meal with the great acts of his redeeming love.
“This bread which I break, let it be the emblem of my body broken to be
bread for the world. This wine which I empty out, let it be the emblem of
my blood which I give for you.” Whatever else the Lord’s Supper may
mean, it is first of all a remembrancer; it is the expression of the Master’s
desire to be remembered by his friends. It comes down to us–Christ’s
friends of to-day–with the same heart-craving. “Remember me; do not
forget me; think of my love for you.” Jesus’ farewell was thus made
wondrously sacred; its memories have blessed the world ever since by their
warmth and tenderness. No one can ever know the measure of the influence
of that last night in the upper room upon the life of these nineteen Christian

CHAPTER XIII.

centuries.

The Lord’s Supper was not all of the Master’s farewell. There were also
words spoken which have been bread and wine, the body and blood of
Jesus, to believers ever since. To the eleven men gathered about that table
these words were inexpressibly precious. One of them, one who leaned his
head upon the Master’s breast that night, remembered them in his old age,
and wrote them down, so that we can read them for ourselves.

It is impossible in a short chapter to study the whole of this wonderful
farewell address; only a few of its great features can be gathered together. It
began with an exhortation, a new commandment,–“That ye love one
another.” We cannot understand how really new this commandment was
when given to the Master’s friends. The world had never before known such
love as Jesus brought into its wintry atmosphere. He had lived out the
divine love among men; now his friends were to continue that love. “As I
have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Very imperfectly have the
friends of the Master learned that love; yet wherever the gospel has gone, a
wave of tenderness has rolled.

Next was spoken a word of comfort whose music has been singing through
the world ever since. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God,
believe also in me.” Unless it be the Twenty-Third Psalm, no other passage
in all the Bible has had such a ministry of comfort as the first words of the
fourteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. They told the sorrowing disciples
that their Master would not forget them, that his work for them would not
be broken off by his death, that he was only going away to prepare a place
for them, and would come again to receive them unto himself, so that
where he should be they might be also. He assured them, too, that while he
was going away, something better than his bodily presence would be given
them instead,–another Comforter would come, so that they should not be
left orphans.

Part of the Master’s farewell words were answers to questions which his
friends asked him,–a series of conversations with one and another. These
men had their difficulties; and they brought these to Jesus, and he explained

CHAPTER XIII.

them. First, Peter had a question. Jesus had spoken of going away. Peter
asked him, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Jesus told him that where he was
going he could not follow him then, but he should follow him by and by.
Peter was recklessly bold, and he would not have it said that there was any
place he could not follow his Master. He declared that he would even lay
down his life for his sake. “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?”
answered the Master. “Wilt thou, indeed?” Then he foretold Peter’s sad,
humiliating fall–that, instead of laying down his life for his Lord.

After the words had been spoken about the Father’s house and the coming
again of Jesus for his friends, Thomas had a question. Jesus had said,
“Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Thomas was slow in his
perceptions, and was given to questioning. He would take nothing for
granted. He would not believe until he could understand. “Lord, we know
not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” We are glad
Thomas asked such a question, for it brought a wonderful answer. Jesus
himself is the way and the truth and the life. That is, to know Christ is to
know all that we need to know about heaven and the way there; to have
Christ as Saviour, Friend, and Lord, is to be led by him through the darkest
way–home. Not only is he the door or gate which opens into the way, but
he is the way. He is the guide in the way; he has gone over it himself;
everywhere we find his footprints. More than that; he is the very way itself,
and the very truth about the way, and the life which inspires us in the way.
To be his friend is enough; we need ask neither whither he has gone, nor
the road; we need only abide in him.

“Thank God, thank God, the Man is found, Sure-footed, knowing well the
ground. He knows the road, for this the way He travelled once, as on this
day. He is our Messenger beside, He is our Door and Path and Guide.”

Then Philip had a question. He had heard the Master’s reply to Thomas.
Philip was slow and dull, loyal-hearted, a man of practical common-sense,
but without imagination, unable to understand anything spiritual, anything
but bare, cold, material facts. The words of Jesus about knowing and seeing
the Father caught his ear. That was just what he wanted,–to see the Father.
So in his dulness he said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” He

CHAPTER XIII.

was thinking of a theophany,–a glorious vision of God. Jesus was
wondrously patient with the dulness of his disciples; but this word pained
him, for it showed how little Philip had learned after all his three years of
discipleship. “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not
known me?” Then Jesus told him that he had been showing him the Father,
the very thing Philip craved, all the while.

Jesus went on with his gracious words for a little while, and was speaking
of manifesting himself to his disciples, when he was interrupted by another
question. This time it was Judas who spoke. “Not Iscariot,” St. John is
careful to say, for the name of Iscariot was now blotted with the blotch of
treason. He had gone out into the night, and was of the disciple family no
more. Judas could not understand in what special and exclusive manner
Jesus would manifest himself to his own. Perhaps he expected some setting
apart of Christ’s followers like that which had fenced off Israel from the
other nations. But Jesus swept away his disciple’s thought of any narrow
manifestation. There was only one condition–love. To every one who
loved him and obeyed his words he would reveal himself. The manifesting
would not be any theophany, as in the ancient Shekinah, but the spiritual
in-dwelling of God.

After these questions of his disciples had all been answered, Jesus
continued his farewell words. He left several bequests to his friends,
distributing among them his possessions. We are apt to ask what he had to
leave. He had no houses or lands, no gold or silver. While he was on his
cross the soldiers divided his clothes among themselves. Yet there are real
possessions besides money and estates. One may have won the honor of a
noble name, and may bequeath this to his family when he goes away. One
may have acquired power which he may transmit. It seemed that night in
the upper room as if Jesus had neither name nor power to leave to his
friends. To-morrow he was going to a cross, and that would be the end of
everything of hope or beauty in his life.

Yet he quietly made his bequests, fully conscious that he had great
possessions, which would bless the world infinitely more than if he had left
any earthly treasure. One of these bequests was his peace. “Peace I leave

CHAPTER XIII.

with you; my peace I give unto you.” It was his own peace; if it had not
been his own he could not have bequeathed it to his friends. A man cannot
give to others what he has not himself. It was his own because he had won
it. Peace is not merely ease, the absence of strife and struggle; it is
something which lives in the midst of the fiercest strife and the sorest
struggle. Jesus knew not the world’s peace,–ease and quiet; but he had
learned a secret of heart-quietness which the world at its worst could not
disturb. This peace he left to his disciples, and it made them richer than if
he had given them all the world’s wealth.

Another of his possessions which he bequeathed was his joy. We think of
Jesus as the Man of sorrows, and we ask what joy he had to give. It seemed
a strange time, too, for him to be speaking of his joy; for in another hour he
was in the midst of the Gethsemane anguish, and to-morrow he was on his
cross. Yet in the upper room he had in his heart a most blessed joy. Even in
the terrible hours that came afterwards, that joy was not quenched; for we
are told that for the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the
shame. This joy also he bequeathed to his friends. “These things have I
spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you.” We remember, too, that they
really received this legacy. The world wondered at the strange secret of joy
those men had when they went out into the world. They sang songs in the
darkest night. Their faces shone as with a holy inner light in the deepest
sorrow. Christ’s joy was fulfilled in them.

He also put within the reach of his friends, as he was about to leave them,
the whole of his own inheritance as the only begotten Son of God. He gave
into their hands the key of heaven. He told them they should have power to
do the works which they had seen him do, and even greater works than
these. He told them that whatsoever they should ask the Father in his name
the Father would give to them. The whole power of his name should thus
be theirs, and they might use it as they would. Nothing they might ask
should be refused to them; all the heavenly kingdom was thrown open to
them.

These are mere suggestions of the farewell gifts which Jesus left to his
friends when he went away,–his peace, his joy, the key to all the treasures

CHAPTER XIII.

of his kingdom. He had blessed them in wonderful ways during his life; but
the best and richest things of his love were kept to the last, and given only
after he was gone. Indeed, the best things were given through his death, and
could be given in no other way. Other men live to do good; they hasten to
finish their work before their sun sets. God’s plan for them is something
they must do before death comes to write “Finis” at the end of their days.
But the plan of God for Jesus centred in his death. It was the blessings that
would come through his dying that were set forth in the elements used in
the Last Supper,–the body broken, the blood shed. The great gifts to his
friends, of which he spoke in his farewell words, would come through his
dying. He must be lifted up in order to draw all men to him. He must shed
his blood in order that remission of sins might be offered. It was expedient
for him to go away in order that the Comforter might come. His peace and
his joy were bequests which could be given only when he had died as the
world’s Redeemer. His name would have power to open heaven’s treasures
only when the atonement had been made, and the Intercessor was at God’s
right hand in heaven.

There was one other act in this farewell of Jesus. After he had ended his
gracious words, he lifted up his eyes in prayer to his Father. The pleading is
full of deep and tender affection. It is like that of a mother about to go away
from earth, and who is commending her children to the care of the heavenly
Father, when she must leave them without mother-love and mother-shelter
among unknown and dangerous enemies.

Every word of the wonderful prayer throbs with love, and reveals a heart of
most tender affection. While he had been with his friends, Jesus had kept
them in the shelter of his own divine strength. None of them had been lost,
so faithful had been his guardianship over them–none but the son of
perdition. He, too, had received faithful care; it had not been the Good
Shepherd’s fault that he had perished. He had been lost because he resisted
the divine love, and would not accept the divine will. There must have been
a pang of anguish in the heart of Jesus as he spoke to his Father of the one
who had perished. But the others all were safe. Jesus had guarded them
through all the dangers up to the present moment.

CHAPTER XIII.

But now he is about to leave them. He knows that they must encounter
great dangers, and will not have him to protect them. The form of his
intercession for them is worthy of note. He does not ask that they should be
taken out of the world. This would have seemed the way of tenderest love.
But it is not the divine way to take us out of the battle. These friends of
Jesus had been trained to be his witnesses, to represent him when he had
gone away. Therefore they must stay in the world, whatever the dangers
might be. The prayer was that they should be kept from the evil. There is
but one evil. They were not to be kept from persecution, from earthly
suffering and loss, from pain or sorrow: these are not the evils from which
men’s lives need to be guarded. The only real evil is sin. Our danger in
trouble or adversity is not that we may suffer, but that we may sin. The
pleading of Jesus was that his friends might not be hurt in their souls, in
their spiritual life, by sin.

If enemies wrong or injure us, the peril is not that they may cause us to
suffer injustice, but that in our suffering we may lose the love out of our
heart, and grow angry, or become bitter. In time of sickness, trial, or
bereavement, that which we should fear is not the illness or the sorrow, but
that we shall not keep sweet, with the peace of God in our breast. The only
thing that can do us real harm is sin. So the intercession on our behalf ever
is, not that we may be kept from things that are hard, from experiences that
are costly or painful, but that we may be kept pure, gentle, and submissive,
with peace and joy in our heart.

There was a pleading also that the disciples might be led into complete
consecration of spirit, and that they might be prepared to go out for their
Master, to be to the world what he had been to them. This was not a prayer
for a path of roses; rather it was for a cross, the utter devotion of their lives
to God. Before the prayer closed, a final wish for his friends was
expressed,–that when their work on earth was done, they might be received
home; that where he should be they might be also, to behold his glory.

Surely there never has been on earth another gathering of such wondrously
deep and sacred meaning as that farewell meeting in the upper room. There
the friendship of Jesus and his chosen ones reached its holiest experience.

CHAPTER XIII.

His deep human love appears in his giving up the whole of this last evening
to this tryst with his own. He knew what was before him after
midnight,–the bitter agony of Gethsemane, the betrayal, the arrest, the trial,
and then the terrible shame and suffering of tomorrow. But he planned so
that there should be these quiet, uninterrupted hours alone with his friends,
before the beginning of the experiences of his passion. He did it for his own
sake; his heart hungered for communion with his friends; with desire he
desired to eat the Passover, and enjoy these hours with them before he
suffered. We may be sure, too, that he received from the holy fellowship
comfort and strength, which helped him in passing through the bitter hours
that followed. Then, he did it also for the sake of his disciples. He knew
how their hearts would be broken with sorrow when he was taken from
them, and he wished to comfort them and make them stronger for the way.
The memory of those holy hours hung over them like a star in all the dark
night of their sorrow, and was a benediction to them as long as they lived.

Then, who can tell what blessings have gone out from that farewell into the
whole Church of Christ through all the centuries? It is the holy of holies of
Christian history. The Lord’s Supper, instituted that night, and which has
never ceased to be observed as a memorial of the Master’s wonderful love
and great sacrifice, has sweetened the world with its fragrant memories.
The words spoken by the Master at the table have been repeated from lip to
heart wherever the story of the gospel has gone, and have given
unspeakable comfort to millions of hearts. The petitions of the great
intercessory prayer have been rising continually, like holy incense, ever
since they were first uttered, taking into their clasp each new generation of
believers. This farewell has kept the Christian hearts of all the centuries
warm and tender with love toward him who is the unchanging Friend the
same yesterday and to-day and forever.

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CHAPTER XIV

JESUS’ FRIENDSHIPS AFTER HE AROSE.

“Our own are our own forever–God taketh not back his gift; They may pass
beyond our vision, but our soul shall find them out When the waiting is all
accomplished, and the deathly shadows lift, And the glory is given for
grieving, and the surety of God for doubt.”

We cannot but ask questions about the after life. What is its character?
What shall be the relations there of those who in the present life have been
united in friendship? What effect has dying on the human affections? Does
it dissolve the bonds which here have been so strong? Or do friendships go
on through death, interrupted for a little time only, to be taken up again in
the life beyond? Surely God will not blame us for our eagerness to know all
we can learn about the world to which we are going.

True, we cannot learn much about this blessed life while we stay in this
world. Human eyes cannot penetrate into the deep mystery. We are like
men standing on the shore of a great sea, wondering what lies on the other
side. No one has come back to tell us what he found in that far country. We
bring our questions to the word of God, but it avails little; even inspiration
does not give us explicit revealings concerning the life of the blessed. We
know that the Son of God had dwelt forever in heaven before his
incarnation, and we expect that he will shed light upon the subject of life
within the gates of heaven. But he is almost silent to our questions. Indeed,
he seems to tell us really nothing. He gives us no description of the place
from which he came, to which he returned, and to which he said his
disciples shall be gathered. He says nothing about the occupations of those
who dwell there. He satisfies no human yearnings to know the nature of
friendship after death. We are likely to turn away from our quest for
definite knowledge, feeling that even Jesus has told us nothing. Yet he has
told us a great deal.

There is one wonderful revelation of which perhaps too little has been
made. After Jesus had died, and lain in the grave for three days, he rose

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again, and remained for forty days upon the earth. During that time he did
not resume the old relations. He was not with his disciples as he had been
during the three years of his public ministry, journeying with them,
speaking to them, working miracles; yet he showed himself to them a
number of times.

The remarkable thing in these appearances of Jesus during the forty days is
that we see in him one beyond death. Lazarus was brought back to earth
after having died, but it was only the old life to which he returned. The
human relations between him and his sisters and friends were restored, but
probably they were not different from what they had been in the past.
Lazarus was the same mortal being as before, with human frailties and
infirmities.

Jesus, however, after his return from the grave, was a man beyond death.
He was the same person who had lived and died, and yet he was changed.
He appeared and disappeared at will. He entered rooms through closed and
barred doors. At last his body ascended from the earth, and passed up to
heaven, subject no longer to the laws of gravitation. We see in Jesus,
therefore, during the forty days, one who has passed into what we call the
other life. What he was then his people will be when they have emerged
from death with their spiritual bodies, for he was the first-fruits of them that
are asleep.

As we study Jesus in the story of those days, we are surprised to see how
little he was changed. Death had left no strange marks upon him. Nothing
beautiful in his life had been lost in the grave. He came back from the
shadows as human as he was before he entered the valley. Dying had
robbed him of no human tenderness, no gentle grace of disposition, no
charm of manner. As we watch him in his intercourse with his disciples, we
recognize the familiar traits which belonged to his personality during the
three years of his active ministry.

We may rightly infer that in our new life we shall be as little changed as
Jesus was. We shall lose our sin, our frailties and infirmities, all our
blemishes and faults. The long-hindered and hampered powers of our being

CHAPTER XIV 115

shall be liberated. Hidden beauties shall shine out in our character, as
developed pictures in the photographer’s sensitized plate. There will be
great changes in us in these and other regards, but our personality will be
the same. Jesus was easily recognized by his friends; so shall we be by
those who have known us. Whatever is beautiful and good in us here,–the
fruits of spiritual conquest, the lessons learned in earth’s experiences, the
impressions made upon us by the Word of God, the silver and golden
threads woven in our life-web by pure friendships, the effects of sorrow
upon us, the work wrought in us by the Holy Spirit,–all this shall appear in
our new life. We shall have incorruptible, spiritual, and glorious bodies, no
longer mortal and subject to the limitations of matter; death will rob us of
nothing that is worthy and true, and fit for the blessed life.

“We are quite sure That he will give them back– Bright, pure, and
beautiful. * * * He does not mean–though heaven be fair– To change the
spirits entering there That they forget The eyes upraised and wet, The lips
too still for prayer, The mute despair. He will not take The spirits which he
gave, and make The glorified so new That they are lost to me and you. * *

* I do believe that just the same sweet face, But glorified, is waiting in the
place Where we shall meet. * * * God never made Spirit for spirit,
answering shade for shade, And placed them side by side– So wrought in
one, though separate, mystified, And meant to break The quivering threads
between.”
It is interesting, too, to study the friendships of Jesus after he came from the
grave. He did not take up again the public life of the days before his death.
He made no more journeys through the country. He spoke no more to
throngs in the temple courts or by the Seaside. He no more went about
healing, teaching, casting out demons, and raising the dead. He made no
appearances in public. Only his disciples saw him. We have but few details
of his intercourse with individuals, but such glimpses as we have are
exceedingly interesting. They show us that no tender tie of friendship had
been hurt by his experience of dying. The love of his heart lived on through
death, and reappeared during the forty days in undiminished gentleness and
kindness. He did not meet his old friends as strangers, but as one who had
been away for a few days, and had come again.

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The first of his friends to whom he showed himself after he arose was Mary
Magdalene. Her story is pathetic in its interest. The traditions of the
centuries have blotted her name, but there is not the slightest evidence in
the New Testament that she was ever a woman of blemished character.
There is no reason whatever for identifying her with the woman that was a
sinner, who came to Jesus in Simon’s house. All that is said of Mary’s
former condition is that she was possessed of seven demons, and that Jesus
freed her from this terrible bondage. In gratitude for this unspeakable
deliverance Mary followed Jesus, leaving her home, and going with him
until the day of his death. She was one of several women friends who
accompanied him and ministered to him of their substance.

Mary’s devotion to Jesus was wonderful. When the tomb was closed she
was one of the watchers who lingered, loath to leave it. Then, at the dawn
of the first day morning she was again one of those who hurried through the
darkness to the tomb, with spices for the anointing of the body–last at his
cross, and earliest at his tomb. Mary’s devotion was rewarded; for to her
first of all his friends did Jesus appear, as she stood weeping by the empty
grave. She did not recognize him at once. She was not expecting to see him
risen. Then, her eyes were blinded with her tears. But the moment he spoke
her name, “Mary,” she knew him, and answered, “Rabboni.” He was not
changed to her. He had not forgotten her. The love in his heart had lost
none of its tenderness. He was as accessible as ever. Dying had made him
no less a friend, and no less sympathetic, than he was before he died.

Soon after Mary had met Jesus, and rejoiced to find him her friend just as
of old, he appeared to the other women of the company who had followed
him with their grateful ministries. They also knew him, and he knew them;
and their hearts suffered no wrench at the meeting, for they found the same
sweet friendship they thought they had lost, just as warm and tender as
ever.

That same day Jesus appeared to Peter. A veil is drawn by the evangelists
over the circumstances of this meeting. The friendship of Jesus and Peter
had continued for three years. He had often given his Master pain and
trouble through his impulsive ways. But the culmination of it all came on

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the night of the betrayal, when, in the hall of the high priest’s palace, Peter
denied being a disciple of Jesus, denied even knowing him. While for the
third time the base and cowardly words were on his lips, Jesus turned and
looked upon his faithless disciple with a look of grieved love, and then
Peter remembered the forewarning the Master had given him. His heart was
broken with penitence, and he went out and wept bitterly. But he had no
opportunity to seek forgiveness; for the next morning Jesus was on his
cross, and in the evening was in his grave. Peter’s sorrow was very deep, for
his love for his Master was very strong.

We can imagine that when the truth of the resurrection began to be believed
that morning, Peter wondered how Jesus would receive him. But he was not
long kept in suspense. The women who came first to the tomb, to find it
empty, received a message for “the disciples and Peter.” This singling out
of his name for special mention must have given unspeakable joy to Peter.
It told him that the love of Jesus was not only stronger than death, but also
stronger than sin. Then, sometime during the day, Jesus appeared to Peter
alone. No doubt then, in the sacredness of love, the disciple made
confession, and the Master granted forgiveness. Several times during the
forty days Jesus and Peter met again. The friendship had not been marred
by death. The risen Lord loved just as he had loved in the days of common
human intercourse.

One of the most interesting of the after resurrection incidents is that of the
walk to Emmaus. Cleophas and his friend were journeying homeward with
sad hearts, when a stranger joined them. His conversation was wonderfully
tender as he walked with them and explained the Scriptures. Then followed
the evening meal, and the revealing of the risen Jesus in the breaking of
bread. Again it was the same sweet friendship which had so warmed their
hearts in the past, resumed by the Master on the other side of death.

It was the same with all the recorded appearances of Jesus. Those who had
been his friends previous to his death found him the same friend as before.
He took up with each of them the threads of affection just where they had
been dropped when the betrayal and arrest wrought such panic among his
disciples, scattering them away, and went on with the weaving.

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May we not conclude that it will be with us even as it was with Jesus? His
resurrection was not only a pledge of what that of believers will be,
carrying within itself the seed and potency of a blessed immortality, but it
was also a sample of what ours will be. Death will produce far less change
in us than we imagine it will do. We shall go on with living very much as if
nothing had happened. Dying is an experience we need not trouble
ourselves about very much if we are believers in Christ. There is a mystery
in it; but when we have passed through it we shall probably find that it is a
very simple and natural event–perhaps little more serious than sleeping
over night and waking in the morning. It will not hurt us in any way. It will
blot no lovely thing from our life. It will end nothing that is worth while.
Death is only a process in life, a phase of development, analogous to that
which takes place when a seed is dropped in the earth and comes up a
beautiful plant, adorned with foliage and blossoms. Life would be
incomplete without dying. The greatest misfortune that could befall any one
would be that he should not die. This would be an arresting of development
which would be death indeed.

“Death is the crown of life; Were death denied, poor man would live in
vain; Were death denied, to live would not be life; Were death denied, e’en
fools would wish to die. Death wounds to cure: we fall; we rise; we reign;
Spring from our fetters; hasten to the skies, Where blooming Eden withers
in our sight. Death gives us more than was in Eden lost; The king of terrors
is the prince of peace.”

There is need for a reconstruction of the prevalent thoughts and conceptions
of heaven. We have trained ourselves to think of life beyond the grave as
something altogether different from what life is in this world. It has always
been pictured thus to us. We have been taught that heaven is a place of rest,
a place of fellowship with God, a place of ceaseless praise. The human
element has been largely left out of our usual conceptions of the blessed
life. Not much is made of the relations of believers to one another. That
which is emphasized in Christian hymns and in most books about heaven is
the Godward side. Much is made of the glory of the place as suggested by
the visions of St. John in the Apocalypse. In many of these conceptions the
chief thought of heavenly blessedness is that it is a release from earth and

CHAPTER XIV 119

from earthly conditions. There is no sorrow, no trouble, no pain, no
struggle, no toil, in the home to which we are going. We shall sit on the
green banks of beautiful rivers, amid unfading flowers, and sing forever.
We shall lie prostrate before the throne, and gaze and gaze on the face of
God.

But this is not the kind of heaven and heavenly life which the teachings of
Jesus Would lead us to imagine. True, he speaks of the place to which he is
going, and where, by and by, he would gather all his disciples, as “my
Father’s house.” This suggests home and love; and the thought is in
harmony with what we have seen in the life of Jesus during the forty
days,–the continuance of the friendships formed and knit in earthly
fellowships. But the vision of home life thus suggested need not imply a
heaven of inaction. Indeed, no life could be more natural and beautiful than
that which the thought of home suggests. We have no perfect homes on
earth; but every true home has in it fragments of heaven’s meaning, and
always the idea is of love’s service rather than of blissful indolence.

We may get many thoughts of the heavenly life from other teachings of
Jesus. Life is continuous. Whosoever liveth and believeth shall never die.
There is no break, no interruption of life, in what we call dying. We think
of eternal life as the life of heaven, the glorified life. So it is; but we have
its beginnings here. The moment we believe, we have everlasting life. The
Christian graces we are enjoined, to cultivate are heavenly lessons set for us
to learn. If we would conceive of the life of heaven, we have but to think of
ideal Christian life in this world, and then lift it up to its perfect realization.
Heaven is but earth’s lessons of grace better learned, earth’s best spiritual
life glorified. Therefore we get our truest thoughts of it from a study of
Christ’s ideal for the life of his followers, for it will simply be this life fully
realized and infinitely extended.

For example, the one great lesson set for us, the one which includes all
others, is love. God is love, and we are to learn to love if we would be like
him. All relationships are relationships of love. All graces are graces of
love. All duties are parts of one great duty–to love one another. All worthy
and noble character is love wrought out in life. All life here is a school,

CHAPTER XIV 120

with its tasks, its struggles, its conflicts, its minglings with men, its
friendships, its experiences of joy and sorrow, its burdens, its
disappointments and hopes, and the final education to be attained is love.
Browning puts it thus in “Rabbi Ben Ezra”:-

Our life, with all it yields of joy or woe, And hope and fear,–believe the
aged friend, Is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love, How love might
be, hath been, indeed, and is.

What is this love which it is the one great lesson of life to learn? Toward
God, it may express itself in devotion, worship, praise, obedience,
fellowship. This seems to be the chief thought of love in the common
conception of heaven. It is all adoration, glorifying. But love has a
manward as well as a Godward development. St. John, the disciple of love,
teaches very plainly that he who says he loves God must prove it by also
loving man. If the whole of our training here is to be in loving and in living
out our love, we certainly have the clew to the heavenly life. We shall
continue in the doing of the things we have here learned to do. Life in glory
will be earth’s Christian life intensified and perfected. Heaven will not be a
place of idle repose. Inaction can never be a condition of blessedness for a
life made and trained for action. The essential quality of love is
service–“not to be ministered unto, but to minister;” and for one who has
learned love’s lesson, happiness never can be found in a state in which there
is no opportunity for ministering. In heaven it will still be more blessed to
give than to receive; and those who are first will be those who with lowly
spirit serve most deeply. Heaven will be a place of boundless activity. “His
servants shall serve him.” The powers trained here for the work of Christ
will find ample opportunity there for doing their best service. Said Victor
Hugo in his old age, “When I go down to the grave, I can say, like so many
others, ‘I have finished my day’s work;’ but I cannot say, ‘I have finished my
life.’ My day’s work will begin again next morning. My tomb is not a blind
alley, it is a thoroughfare; it closes with the twilight to open with the
dawn.”

Whatever mystery there may be concerning the life that believers in Christ
shall live in heaven, we may be sure at least that they will carry with them

CHAPTER XIV 121

all that is true and divine of their earthly life. The character formed here
they will retain through death. The capacity they have gained by the use of
their powers they will have for the beginning of their activity in the new
life. There can be no doubt that they shall find work commensurate with
and fitted to their trained powers.

So heaven will be a far more natural place than we imagine it will be. It
will not be greatly unlike the ideal life of earth. We probably shall be
surprised when we meet each other to find how little we have changed. The
old tenderness will not be missing. We shall recognize our friends by some
little gentle ways they used to have here, or by some familiar
thoughtfulness that was never wanting in them. The friendships we began
here, and had not time to cultivate, we shall have opportunity there to
renew, and carry on through immortal years.

Even at the best, human friendships only begin in this life; in heaven they
will reach their best and holiest possibilities. There are lives which only
touch each other in this world and then separate, going their different
ways–like ships that pass in the night. There will be time enough in heaven
for any such faintest beginnings of friendship to be wrought out in beauty.
Friendships with Jesus here touch but the shore of an infinite ocean; in
heaven, unhindered, in uninterrupted fellowship, we shall be forever
learning more of this love of Christ which passeth knowledge.

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CHAPTER XV.

JESUS AS A FRIEND.

“Long, long centuries Agone, One walked the earth, his life A seeming
failure; Dying, he gave the world a gift That will outlast eternities.”

The world has always paid high honor to friendship. Some of the finest
passages in all history are the stories of noble friendships,–stories which
are among the classics of literature. The qualities which belong to an ideal
friend have been treated by many writers through all the centuries. But
Jesus Christ brought into the world new standards for everything in human
life. He was the one complete Man,–God’s ideal for humanity. “Once in the
world’s history was born a Man. Once in the roll of the ages, out of
innumerable failures, from the stock of human nature, one bud developed
itself into a faultless flower. One perfect specimen of humanity has God
exhibited on earth.” To Jesus, therefore, we turn for the divine ideal of
everything in human life. What is friendship as interpreted by Jesus? What
are the qualities of a true friend as illustrated in the life of Jesus?

It is evident that he lifted the ideal of friendship to a height to which it
never before had been exalted. He made all things new. Duty had a new
meaning after Jesus taught and lived, and died and rose again. He presented
among men new conceptions of life, new standards of character, new
thoughts of what is worthy and beautiful. Not one of his beatitudes had a
place among the world’s ideals of blessedness. They all had an unworldly, a
spiritual basis. The things he said that men should live for were not the
things which men had been living for before he came. He showed new
patterns for everything in life.

Jesus presented a conception for friendship which surpassed all the
classical models. In his farewell to his disciples he gave them what he
called a “new commandment.” The commandment was that his friends
should love one another. Why was this called a new commandment? Was
there no commandment before Jesus came and gave it that good men
should love one another? Was this rule of love altogether new with him?

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In the form in which Jesus gave it, this commandment never had been
given before. There was a precept in the Mosaic law which at first seems to
be the same as that which Jesus gave, but it was not the same. It read,
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As thyself” was the standard.
Men were to love themselves, and then love their neighbors as themselves.
That was as far as the old commandment went. But the new commandment
is altogether different. “As I have loved you” is its measure. How did Jesus
love his disciples? As himself? Did he keep a careful balance all the while,
thinking of himself, of his own comfort, his own ease, his own safety, and
going just that far and no farther in his love for his disciples? No; it was a
new pattern of love that Jesus introduced. He forgot himself altogether,
denied himself, never saved his own life, never hesitated at any line or limit
of service, of cost or sacrifice, in loving. He emptied himself, kept nothing
back, spared not his own life. Thus the standard of friendship which Jesus
set for his followers was indeed new. Instead of “Love thy neighbor as
thyself,” it was “Love as Jesus loved;” and he loved unto the uttermost.

When we turn to the history of Christianity, we see that the type of
friendship which Jesus introduced was indeed a new thing in the world. It
was new in its motive and inspiration. The love of the Mosaic law was
inspired by Sinai; the love of the Christian law got its inspiration from
Calvary. The one was only cold, stern law; the other was burning passion.
The one was enforced merely as a duty; the other was impressed by the
wondrous love of Christ. No doubt men loved God in the Old Testament
days, for there were many revealings of his goodness and his grace and love
in the teachings of those who spoke for God to men. But wonderful as were
these revelations, they could not for a moment be compared with the
manifestation of God which was made in Jesus Christ. The Son of God
came among men in human form, and in gentle and lowly life all the
blessedness of the divine affection was poured out right before men’s eyes.
At last there was the cross, where the heart of God broke in love.

No wonder that, with such inspiration, a new type of friendship appeared
among the followers of Jesus. We are so familiar with the life which
Christianity has produced, where the fruits of the Spirit have reached their
finest and best development, that it is well-nigh impossible for us to

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conceive of the condition of human society as it was before Christ came. Of
course there was love in the world before that day. Parents loved their
children. There was natural affection, which sometimes even in heathen
countries was very strong and tender. Friendships existed between
individuals. History has enshrined the story of some of these. There always
were beautiful things in humanity,–fragments of the divine image
remaining among the ruins of the fall.

But the mutual love of Christians which began to show itself on the day of
Pentecost surpassed anything that had ever been known in even the most
refined and gentle society. It was indeed divine love in new-born men. No
mere natural human affection could ever produce such fellowship as we see
in the pentecostal church. It was a little of heaven’s life let down upon
earth. Those who so loved one another were new men; they had been born
again–born from above. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven
upon the earth. In other words, he came to make heaven in the hearts of his
believing ones. That is what the new friendship is. A creed does not make
one a Christian; commandments, though spoken amid the thunders of Sinai,
will never produce love in a life. The new ideal of love which Jesus came
to introduce among men was the love of God shed abroad in human hearts.
“As I have loved you, that ye also love one another” was the new
requirement.

Since, then, the new ideal of friendship is that which Jesus gave in his own
life, it will be worth our while to make a study of this holy pattern, that we
may know how to strive toward it for ourselves.

We may note the tenderness of the friendship of Jesus. It has been
suggested by an English preacher that Christ exhibited the blended qualities
of both sexes. “There was in him the womanly heart as well as the manly
brain.” Yet tenderness is not exclusively a womanly excellence; indeed,
since tenderness can really coexist only with strength, it is in its highest
manifestation quite as truly a manly as a womanly quality. Jesus was
inimitably tender. Tenderness in him was never softness or weakness. It
was more like true motherliness than almost any other human affection; it
was infolding, protecting, nourishing love.

CHAPTER XV. 125

We find abundant illustrations of this quality in the story of the life of
Jesus. The most kindly and affectionate men are sure sometime to reveal at
least a shade of harshness, coldness, bitterness, or severity. But in Jesus
there was never any failure of tenderness. We see it in his warm love for
John, in his regard for little children, in his compassion for sinners who
came to his feet, in his weeping over the city which had rejected him and
was about to crucify him, in his thought for the poor, in his compassion for
the sick.

Another quality of the friendship of Jesus was patience. In all his life he
never once failed in this quality. We see it in his treatment of his disciples.
They were slow learners. He had to teach the same lesson over and over
again. They could not understand his character. But he wearied not in his
teaching. They were unfaithful, too, in their friendship for him. In a time of
alarm they all fled, while one of them denied him, and another betrayed
him. But never once was there the slightest impatience shown by him.
Having loved his own, he loved them unto the uttermost, through all
dulness and all unfaithfulness. He suffered unjustly, but bore all wrong in
silence. He never lost his temper. He never grew discouraged, though all
his work seemed to be in vain. He never despaired of making beauty out of
deformity in his disciples. He never lost hope of any soul. Had it not been
for this quality of unwearying patience nothing would ever have come from
his interest in human lives.

The friendship of Jesus was unselfish. He did not choose those whose
names would add to his influence, who would help him to rise to honor and
renown; he chose lowly, unknown men, whom he could lift up to worthy
character. His enemies charged against him that he was the friend of
publicans and sinners. In a sense this was true. He came to be a Saviour of
lost men. He said he was a physician; and a physician’s mission is among
the sick, not among the whole and well.

The friendship of Jesus was not checked or foiled by the discovery of faults
or blemishes in those whom he had taken into his life. Even in our ordinary
human relations we do not know what we are engaging to do when we
become the friend of another. “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in

CHAPTER XV. 126

sickness and in health,” runs the marriage covenant. The covenant in all
true friendship is the same. We pledge our friend faithfulness, with all that
faithfulness includes. We know not what demands upon us this sacred
compact may make in years to come. Misfortune may befall our friend, and
he may require our aid in many ways. Instead of being a help he may
become a burden. But friendship must not fail, whatever its cost may be.
When we become the friend of another we do not know what faults and
follies in him closer acquaintance may disclose to our eyes. But here, again,
ideal friendship must not fail.

What is true in common human relations was true in a far more wonderful
way of the friendship of Jesus. We have only to recall the story of his three
years with his disciples. They gave him at the best a very feeble return for
his great love for them. They were inconstant, weak, foolish, untrustful.
They showed personal ambition, striving for first places, even at the Last
Supper. They displayed jealousy, envy, narrowness, ingratitude, unbelief,
cowardice. As these unlovely things appeared in the men Jesus had chosen,
his friendship did not slacken or unloose its hold. He had taken them as his
friends, and he trusted them wholly; he committed himself to them
absolutely, without reserve, without condition, without the possibility of
withdrawal. No matter how they failed, he loved them still. He was patient
with their weaknesses and with their slow growth, and was not afraid to
wait, knowing that in the end they would justify his faith in them and his
costly friendship for them.

Jesus thought not of the present comfort and pleasure of his friends, but of
their highest and best good. Too often human friendship in its most
generous and lavish kindness is really most unkind. It thinks that its first
duty is to give relief from pain, to lighten burdens, to alleviate hardship, to
smoothe the rough path. Too often serious hurt is done by this
over-tenderness of human love.

But Jesus made no such mistakes in dealing with his friends. He did not try
to make life easy for them. He did not pamper them. He never lowered the
conditions of discipleship so that it would be easy for them to follow him.
He did not carry their burdens for them, but put into their hearts courage

CHAPTER XV. 127

and hope to inspire and strengthen them to carry their own loads.

He did not keep them secluded from the world in a quiet shelter so that they
would not come in contact with the world’s evil nor meet its assaults; his
method with them was to teach them how to live so that they should have
the divine protection in the midst of spiritual danger, and then to send them
forth to face the perils and fight the battles. His prayer for his disciples was
not that they should be taken out of the world, thus escaping its dangers and
getting away from its struggles, but that they should be kept from the
world’s evil. He knew that if they would become good soldiers they must be
trained in the midst of the conflict. Hence he did not fight their battles for
them. He did not save Peter from being sifted; it was necessary that his
apostle should pass through the terrible experience, even though he should
fail in it and fall. His prayer for him was not that he should not be sifted,
but that his faith should not altogether fail. His aim in all his dealings with
his friends was to train them into heroic courage and invincible character,
and not to lead them along flowery paths through gardens of ease.

We are in the habit of saying that the follower of Christ will always find
goodness and mercy wherever he is led. This is true; but it must not be
understood to mean that there will never be any hardness to endure, any
cross to bear, any pain or loss to experience. We grow best under burdens.
We learn most when lessons are hard. When we get through this earthly
life, and stand on the other side, and can look back on the path over which
we have been led, it will appear that we have found our best blessings
where we thought the way was most dreary and desolate. We shall see then
that what seemed sternness and severity in Christ was really truest and
wisest friendship. One writes:-

“If you could go back to the forks of the road– Back the long miles you
have carried the load; Back to the place where you had to decide By this
way or that through your life to abide;

Back of the sorrow and back of the care; Back to the place where the future
was fair– If you were there now, a decision to make, Oh, pilgrim of sorrow,
which road would you take?

CHAPTER XV. 128

Then, after you’d trodden the other long track, Suppose that again to the
forks you went back, After you found that its promises fair Were but a
delusion that led to a snare-

That the road you first travelled with sighs and unrest, Though dreary and
rough, was most graciously blest, With a balm for each bruise and a charm
for each ache, Oh, pilgrim of sorrow, which road would you take?”

Sometimes good people are disappointed in the way their prayers are
answered. Indeed, they seem not to be answered at all. They ask God to
take away some trouble, to lift off some load, and their request is not
granted. They continue to pray, for they read that we must be importunate,
that men ought always to pray and not to faint; but still there seems no
answer. Then they are perplexed. They cannot understand why God’s
promises have failed.

But they have only misread the promises. There is no assurance given that
the burdens shall be lifted off and carried for us. God would not be the
wise, good, and loving Father he is, if at every cry of any of his children he
ran to take away the trouble, or free them from the hardness, or make all
things easy and pleasant for them. Such a course would keep us always
children, untrained, undisciplined. Only in burden-bearing and in enduring
can we learn to be self-reliant and strong. Jesus himself was trained on the
battlefield, and in life’s actual experiences of trial. He learned obedience by
the things that he suffered. It was by meeting temptation and by being
victorious in it that he became Master of the world, able to deliver us in all
our temptations.

Not otherwise can we grow into Christlike men. It would be unkindness in
our Father to save us from the experiences by which alone we can be
disciplined into robust and vigorous strength. The promises do not read that
if we call upon God in our trouble he will take the trouble away. Rather the
assurance is that if we call upon God he will answer us. The answer may
not be relief; it may be only cheer. We are taught to cast our burden upon
the Lord, but we are not told that the Lord will take it away. The promise is
that he will sustain us under the burden. We are to continue to bear it; and

CHAPTER XV. 129

we are assured that we shall not faint under the load, for God will
strengthen us. The assurance is not that we shall not be tempted, but that no
temptation but such as man can bear shall come to us, and that the faithful
God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to endure.

This, then, is what divine friendship does. It does not make it easy for us to
live, for then we should get no blessing of strength and goodness from
living. How, then, are our prayers answered? God sustains us so that we
faint not; and then, as we endure in faith and patience, his benediction is
upon us, giving us wisdom, and imparting strength to us.

The friendship of Jesus was always sympathetic. Many persons, however,
misunderstand the meaning of sympathy. They think of it as merely a weak
pity, which sits down beside one who is suffering or in sorrow, and enters
into the experience, without doing anything to lift him up or strengthen
him. Such sympathy is really of very little value in the time of trouble. It
may impart a consciousness of companionship which will somewhat relieve
the sense of aloneness, but it makes the sufferer no braver or stronger.
Indeed, it takes strength from him by aggravating his sense of distress.

It was not thus, however, that the sympathy of Jesus was manifested. There
was no real pain or sorrow in any one which did not touch his heart and stir
his compassion. He bore the sicknesses of his friends, and carried their
sorrows, entering with wonderful love into every human experience. But he
did more than feel with those who were suffering, and weep beside them.
His sympathy was always for their strengthening. He never encouraged
exaggerated thoughts of pain or suffering–for in many minds there is a
tendency to such feelings. He never gave countenance to morbidness,
self-pity, or any kind of unwholesomeness in grief. He never spoke of
sorrow or trouble in a despairing way. He sought to inculcate hope, and to
make men braver and stronger. His ministry was always toward cheer and
encouragement. He gave great eternal truths on which his friends might rest
in their sorrow, and then bade them be of good cheer, assuring them that he
had overcome the world. He gave them his peace and his joy; not sinking
down into the depths of sad helplessness with them, but rather lifting them
up to sympathy with him in his victorious life.

CHAPTER XV. 130

The wondrous hopefulness of Jesus pervades all his ministry on behalf of
others. He was never discouraged. Every sorrow was to him a path to a
deeper joy. Every battle was a way to the blessing of victoriousness. Every
load under which men bent was a secret of new strength. In all loss gain
was infolded. Jesus lived this life himself; it was no mere theory which he
taught to his followers, and had never tried or proved himself. He never
asked his friends to accept any such untested theories. He lived all his own
lessons. He was not a mere teacher; he was a leader of men. Thus his strong
friendship was full of magnificent inspiration. He called men to new things
in life, and was ready to help them reach the highest possibilities in
achievement and attainment.

This friendship of Jesus is the inspiration which is lifting the world toward
divine ideals. “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me,”
was the stupendous promise and prophecy of Jesus, as his eye fell on the
shadow of the cross at his feet, and he thought of the fruits of his great
sorrow and the influence of his love. Every life that is struggling to reach
the beauty and perfectness of God’s thought for it is feeling the power of
this blessed friendship, and is being lifted up into the likeness of the
Master.

This friendship of Jesus waits as a mighty divine yearning at the door of
every human heart “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,” is its call. “If
any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him, and he with me.” This blessed friendship waits before each
life, waits to be accepted, waits to receive hospitality. Wherever it is
received, it inspires in the heart a heavenly love which transforms the
whole life. To be a friend of Christ is to be a child of God in the goodly
fellowship of heaven.

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CHAPTER XV. 131

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OUR MASTER by General Bramwell Booth.

OUR MASTER
Thoughts for Salvationists about Their Lord
BY
General Bramwell Booth.

“_As man He suffered–as God He taught_.”

TO
MY WIFE

Contents.
Preface

I. The Man for the Century
II. The Birth of Jesus
“_For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord_.” (Luke ii. 11.)
“The firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. viii. 29.)

III. Contrasts at Bethlehem

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IV. Christ Come Again
“_And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling
clothes, and laid Him in a manger_.” (Luke ii. 7.)
“Christ formed in you.” (Gal. iv. 19.)

V. The Secret of His Rule
“_For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin_.” (Heb. iv. 15.)

VI. A Neglected Saviour
“_And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy_.”
(Matt. xxvi. 43.)

VII. Windows in Calvary
“_And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it
might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. They parted My
garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots. And sitting
down they watched Him there_.” (Matt. xxvii. 35, 36.)

VIII. The Burial of Jesus
“_And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly
for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of
Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and, took the body of
Jesus_.” (John xix. 38. And following verses.)

IX. Conforming to Christ’s Death
“_That I may know Him . . . being made conformable unto His death_.”
(Phil. iii. 10.)

Our Master

X. The Resurrection and Sin
“_Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was . . . declared to be
the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the
resurrection from the dead_.” (Rom. i. 3, 4.)

XI. “Salvation Is of the Lord”
“Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah ii. 9.)
“Work out your own salvation.” (Phil ii. 12.)
XII. Self-Denial
“_If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me_.” (Matt. xvi. 24.)

XIII. In Unexpected Places
“_And . . . while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself
drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should
not know Him_.” (Luke xxiv. 15, 16.)

XIV. Ever the Same
“_Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are
His: and He changeth the times and the seasons_.” (Dan. ii. 20, 21.)
“_I am the Lord, I change not_.” (Mal. iii. 6.)

Preface

The present volume contains some of the papers bearing on the Birth and
Death and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ which I have contributed from
time to time to Salvation Army periodicals. I hope that in this form they
may continue the service of souls which I am assured they began to render

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when, one by one, they were first published.

Much in them has, I do not doubt, come to me directly or indirectly by
inspiration or suggestion of other writers and speakers, and I desire
therefore to acknowledge my indebtedness to the living, both inside and
outside our borders, as well as to the holy dead.

Bramwell Booth.

Barnet, May, 1908.

I.
The Man for the Century
I.
The Need.

The new Century has its special need.

The need of the twentieth century will be men. In every department of the
world’s life or labour, that is the great want. In religion, in politics, in
science, in commerce, in philanthropy, in government, all other necessities
are unimportant by comparison with this one.

Given men of a certain type, and the religious life of the world will thrive
and throb with the love and will of God, and overcome all opposition.
Given men of the right stamp, and politics will become another word for
benevolence. Provided true men are available, science will take her place as
the handmaid of revelation. If only men of power and principle are at hand,
commerce will prosper as she has never yet prospered, rooted in the great
law which Christ laid down for her: “Do unto others as ye would that they
should do unto you.” If the men are found to guide it, philanthropy will
become a golden ladder of opportunity by which all in misfortune and
misery may climb, not only to sufficiency and happiness here, but to purity

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and plenty for ever. And, given the men of heart, head, and hand for the
task, the government of the kingdoms of this world will yet become a
fulfilment of the great prayer of Jesus: “Thy will be done on earth, as it is
done in Heaven.”

But all, or nearly all, depends on the men.

II.
The Man.

The new Century will demand men.

But if men, then certainly a man. Human nature has, after all, more
influence over human nature than anything else. Abstract laws are of little
moment to us until we see them in actual operation. The law of gravitation
is but a matter of intelligent wonder while we view its influence in the
movements of revolving planets or falling stars; but when we see a baby
fall terror-stricken from its little cradle to the floor, “the attraction of large
bodies for small ones” takes on a new and heart-felt meaning. The beauty
of devotion to truth in the face of opposition hardly stirs an emotion in
many of us, as we regard it from the safe distance of our own self-satisfied
liberty; but when we see the lonely martyr walk with head erect through the
raging mob, and kiss the stake to which he is soon to be bound; when we
watch him burn until the kindly powder explodes about his neck, and sends
him to exchange his shirt of flame for the robe he has washed in the Blood
of the Lamb; then, the beauty, the sincerity, the greatness, the God-likeness
of sacrifice, especially of sacrifice for the truth, comes home to us, and
captures even the coldest hearts and dullest minds.

The revelation of Jesus in the flesh was a recognition of this principle. The
purpose of His life and death was to manifest God in the flesh, that He
might attract man to God. He took human nature that human nature might
see the best of which it was capable. He became a man that men might
know to what heights of power a man might rise. He became a man that
men might know to what lengths and breadths of love and wisdom a man

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might attain. He became a man that men might know to what depths of love
and service a man might reach.

The men we need, then, for the twentieth century will find the pattern Man
ready to their hand. Be the demands of the coming years what they may,
God is able to raise up men to meet them, men after His own likeness–men
of right, men of light, men of might–men who will follow Him in the
desperate fight with the hydra-headed monsters of evil of every kind, and
who will, by His Name, deliver the souls of men from the slavery of sin and
the Hell to which it leads.

III.
Standards.

The new Century will demand high standards, both of character and
conduct.

Explain it how we may, the fact is evident that religion has greatly
disappointed the world. The wretched distortion of Christ’s teaching which
appears in the lives and business of tens of thousands of professed
Christians, the namby-pambyism of the mass of Christian teachers towards
the evil of sin, and the unholy union, in nearly all the practical proceedings
of life, between the world and the bulk of the Christian churches, no doubt
largely account for this, so far as Christianity is concerned.

Mohammedanism is in a still worse plight, for though, alas! it increases
even faster than Christianity, it is helpless at the heart. The mass of its
devotees know that between its highest teaching and its best practice there
is a great gulf, and they are slowly beginning to look elsewhere for rules by
which to guide their lives.

And what is true of Mohammedanism is true also of Buddhism–the great
religion of the East. Its teachers have largely ceased to be faithful to their
own faith; and, as a consequence, that faith is a declining power. Beautiful
as much of its teaching undoubtedly is, millions who are nominally

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Buddhist are estranged by its failures; and are, with increasing unrest,
looking this way and that for help in the battle with evil, and for hope
amidst the bitter consciousness of sin.

Such is a cursory view of the attitude of the opening century towards the
great faiths of the world. Perhaps one word more than another sums it all
up–especially as regards Christianity–and that word is NEGLECT–cold,
stony neglect!

And yet men are still demanding standards of life and conduct. The open
materialist, the timid agnostic, no less than the avowedly selfish, the
vicious and the vile, are asking, with a hundred tongues and in a thousand
ways, “Who will show us any good?” The universal conscience, unbribed,
unstifled as on the fateful day in Eden–conscience, the only thing in man
left standing erect when all else fell–still cries out, “YOU OUGHT!” still
rebels at evil, still compels the human heart to cry for rules of right and
wrong, and still urges man to the one, and withholds him from the other.

And it is–for one reason–because Jesus can provide these high standards
for men, that I say He is The Man for the Century. The laws He has laid
down in the Gospels, and the example He furnished of obedience to those
laws in the actual stress and turmoil of a human life, afford a standard
capable of universal application.

The ruler, contending with unruly men; the workman, fighting for
consideration from a greedy employer; the outcast, struggling like an
Ishmaelite with Society for a crust of bread; the dark-skinned, sad-eyed
mother, sending forth her only babe to perish in the waters of the sacred
river of India, thus “giving the fruit of her body for the sin of her soul”; the
proud and selfish noble, abounding in all he desires except the one thing
needful; the great multitude of the sorrowful, which no man can number,
who refuse to be comforted; the dying, whose death will be an unwilling
leap in the dark–all these, yea, and all others, may find in the law of Christ
that which will harmonise every conflicting interest, which will solve the
problems of human life, which will build up a holy character, which will
gather up and sanctify everything that is good in every faith and in every

Our Master

man, and will unite all who will obey it in the one great brotherhood of the
one fold and the one Shepherd.

IV.
Liberty.

The new Century will call for freedom in every walk of human life.

That bright dream of the ages–Liberty–how far ahead of us she still lies!

What a bondage life is to multitudes! What a vast host of the human race,
even of this generation, will die in slavery–actual physical bondage! Slaves
in Africa, in China, in Eastern Europe, in the far isles of the sea and dark
places of the earth, cry to us, and perish while they cry.

What a host, still larger, are in the bondage of unequal laws! Little children,
stricken, cursed, and damned, and there is none to deliver. Young men and
maidens bound by hateful customs, ruined by wicked associations, torn by
force of law from all that is best in life, and taught all that is worst. Nine
men out of ten in one of the great European armies are said to be debauched
morally and physically by their military service; and all the men in the
nation are bound by law to serve.

What a host–larger, again, than both the others–of every generation of men
are bound by custom in the service of cruelty. It is supposed that every year
a million little children die from neglect, wilful exposure, or other form of
cruelty. Think of the bondage of those who kill them! Look at the cruelty to
women, the cruelty of war, the cruelty to criminals, the cruelty to the
animal creation. What a mighty force the slavery of cruel custom still
remains!

All that is best in man is crying out for emancipation from this bondage,
and I know of no deliverance so sure, so complete, so abiding as that which
comes by the teaching and spirit of Jesus. But, even if freedom from all
these hateful bonds could come, and could be complete, without Him, there

Our Master

still remains a serfdom more degrading, a bondage more inexorable than
any of these, for men are everywhere the bond-slaves of sin. Look out upon
the world–upon your own part of it, even upon your own family or
household–and see how evil holds men by one chain or another, and grips
them body and soul. This one by doubt, this by passion, this by envy, this
by lust, this by pride, this by strife, this by fear, this one by love of gold,
this one by love of the world, and this one by hatred of God! _Is it not so_?

What men want, then, is PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY FROM
SIN. Given that, and a slave may be free. Given that, and the child in the
nursery of iniquity may be free. Given that, and the young man or maiden
held in the charnel-house of lust may be free. Given that, and the victim of
all that is most cruel and most brutal in life may still be free. Oh! blessed be
God, he whom the Son makes free is free indeed!

This, and this alone, is the liberty for the new Century–the Gospel liberty
from sin for the individual soul and spirit, without respect of time or
circumstance; and here alone is He who can bestow it–Jesus, the Lion of
the Tribe of Judah.

This, I say, is The Man for the new Century.

V.
Knowledge.

The new Century will be marked by a universal demand for knowledge.

One of the most remarkable features of the present time is the extraordinary
thirst for knowledge in every quarter of the world. It is not confined to this
continent or that. It is not peculiar to any special class or age. It is
universal. One aspect of it, and a very significant one, is the desire for
knowledge about life and its origin, about the beginning of things, about the
earth and its creation, about the work which we say God did, which He
alone could do.

Our Master

Oh, how men search and explore! How they read and think! How they talk
and listen! Where one book was read a generation ago, a hundred, I should
think, are read now; and for one newspaper then read, there are now,
probably, a thousand. Every man is an inquiry agent, seeking news,
information, or instruction; seeking to know what will make life longer for
him and his; and, above all, what can make it happier.

And here, again, I say that Jesus is The Man for the new Century. He has
knowledge to give which none other can provide. I do not doubt that
universities, and schools, and governments, and a great press, can, and will,
do much to impart knowledge of all sorts to the world. But when it comes
to knowledge that can serve the great end for which the very power to
acquire knowledge was created–namely, _the true happiness of
man_–then, I say, that JESUS is the source of that knowledge; that without
Him it cannot be found or imparted; and that with Him it comes in its
liberating and enlightening glory.

Oh, be sure you have that! No amount of learning will stand you in its
stead. No matter how you may have stored your mind with the riches of the
past, or tutored it to grapple with the mysteries of the present, _unless you
know Him, it will all amount to nothing_. But if you know Him who is life,
that is life eternal. Knowledge without God is like a man learned in all the
great mysteries of light and heat who has never seen the sun. He may
understand perfectly the laws which govern them, the results which follow
them, the secrets which control their action on each other–all that is
possible, and yet he will be in the dark.

So, too, knowledge, learning, human education and wisdom are all possible
to man; he may even excel in them so as to be a wonder to his fellows by
reason of his vast stores of knowledge, and yet know nothing of that light
within the mind by which he apprehends them. Nay, more! he may even be
a marvellous adept in the theory of religion, and yet, alas! alas! may never
have seen its SUN–may still be in the blackness of gross darkness, because
he knows not Jesus, the Light of the world, whom to know is life eternal.

VI.

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Government.

The new Century will demand governors.

Every thoughtful person who considers the subject must be struck by the
modern tendency towards personal government all over the world.
Whatever may be the form of national government prescribed by the
various constitutions, it tends, when carried into practice, to give power and
authority to individual rulers. Whether in monarchies like England, where
Parliament is really the ruling power; or in republics like France and the
United States, where what are called democratic institutions are seen in
their maturity; or in empires like Germany and Austria, the same leading
facts appear. Power goes into the hands of one or two who, whether as
ministers, or presidents, or monarchs, are the real rulers of the nation.

Perfect laws, liberal institutions, patriotic sentiments, though they may
elevate, can never rule a people. A crowd of legislators, no matter how
devoted to a nation, can never permanently control, though they may
influence it. Out of the crowd will come forth one or two; generally one
commanding personality, strong enough to stand alone, though wise
enough not to attempt it. In him will be focussed the ideas and ambitions of
the nation, to him the people’s hearts will go out, and from him they will
take the word of command as their virtual ruler. It has ever been so. It is so
to-day. It will always be so.

And as with nations so with individuals. Every man must have a king. Call
him what we will, recognise him or not, every man is the subject of some
ruler. And this will, if possible, be more manifest in the future than in the
past. Men will not be satisfied to serve ideas, to live for the passing
ambitions of their day, they will cry out for a king.

Am I wrong when I say that JESUS IS THE COMING KING? In Him are
assembled in the highest perfection all the great qualities which go to make
the KING OF MEN. And so the new Century will need Him, must have
Him; nay, it cannot prosper without Him, the Divine Man, for He is the
rightful Sovereign of every human soul.

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VII.
A New Force.

The new Century will demand great moral forces as well as high ideals.

Nothing is more evident than that the forms and ceremonies of religion are
rapidly losing–even in nominally Christian countries–all real influence
over the lives of men. The form of godliness without the power is not only
the greatest of all shams, but it is the most easily detected. Hence it is that a
large part of mankind is either disgusted to hostility or utterly estranged
from real religion by theories and ceremonials which, though they may
continue to exist in shadow, have lost their life and soul.

For example, the old lie, that money paid to a Church can buy
“indulgences” which will release men in the next world from the penalty of
sin committed in this, and the miserable theory which made God the direct
author of eternal damnation to those who are lost, are among the theories
which, though they are still taught and professed here and there, have long
ago ceased to have real influence over men’s hearts or actions. In the same
way, there are multitudes who still conform to the outward ceremony of
Confirmation, upon whose salvation from sin or separation from the world
that ceremony has absolutely no influence whatever, although, for custom’s
sake, they submit to it.

But a greater danger than this lies in the fact that _it is possible to hold and
believe the truth, and yet to be totally ignorant of its power_. Sound
doctrine will of itself never save a soul. A man may believe every word of
the faith of a Churchman or a Salvationist, and yet be as ignorant of any
real experience of religion as an infidel or an idolater. And it is this merely
intellectual or sentimental holding of the truth about God and Christ, about
Holiness and Heaven, which makes the ungodly mass look upon
Christianity as nothing more than an opinion or a trade; a something with
which they have no concern.

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The new Century will demand something more than this. Men will require
something beyond creeds, be they ever so correct; and traditions, be they
ever so venerable; and sacraments, be they ever so sacred. They will ask for
an endowment of power to grapple with what they feel to be base in human
nature, and to master what they know is selfish and sinful in their own
hearts.

And right here The Man for the Century comes forward. The doctrine of
Jesus is the spirit of a new life. It is a transforming power. A man may
believe that the American Republic is the purest and noblest form of
government on the earth, and may give himself up to live, and fight, and die
for it, and yet be the same man in every respect as he was before; but if he
believes with his heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and gives
himself up to live, and fight, and die for Him, he will become a new man,
he will be a new creature. The acceptance of the truth, and acting upon it, in
the one case, will make a great change in his manner of life–his conduct;
the acceptance of the truth, and acting upon it, in the other, will make a
great change in the man _himself_–in his tastes and motives, in his very
nature.

Again, I say, this is what we shall need for the new Century. Not good laws
only, but the power to observe them. Not beautiful and lofty ideals only,
but the power to translate them into the daily practice of common lives. Not
merely the glorious examples of a pure faith, but the actual force which
enables men to live by that faith amid the littleness, the depression, the
contamination, and the conflict of an evil world.

VIII.
Atonement.
The new Century will demand an atonement for sin.
The consciousness of sin is the most enduring fact of human experience.
From generation to generation, from age to age, amidst the ceaseless
changes which time brings to everything else, this one great fact remains,

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persists–the condemning consciousness of sin. It appears with men in the
cradle, and goes with them to the tomb; without regard to race, or language,
or creed it is ever with us. It was this robbed Eden of its joys; it is this
makes life a round of labour and sorrow; it is this gives death its terrors; it
is this makes the place of torment which men call Hell–for the unceasing
consciousness of sin will be “the worm that never dies.”

All attempts to explain it away, to modify its miseries, to extract its
sting–whether they have come from the party of unbelief, or the party of
education, or the party of amusement, have failed–and failed utterly. No
matter what men say or do to get rid of it, there it is–staring them in the
face! Whether they look amongst the most highly civilized peoples or
amongst the lowest savages; whether they look into the past history of
mankind or into its present condition, there is the stupendous fact of sin,
and there is the incontrovertible fact that everywhere men are conscious of
it.

It is going to be so in this twentieth century. If God, in His mercy, allows
the families of men to continue during another hundred years, this great fact
will still stand out in the forefront of life. Sin will still be the skeleton at
every feast, the horrid ghost haunting every home and every heart, the
spectre, clothed with reproaches, ever ready to plunge his dripping sword
into every breast.

Sin. The world’s sin. The sin of this one generation. The sin of one city. The
sin of one family. The sin of one man–my sin! Ah! depend upon it, the
twentieth century will cry aloud, “_What shall be done with our sin_?”

Yet, thanks be to God! there is an atonement. The MAN of whom I write
has made a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins
of the whole world. He stands forth the ONLY SAVIOUR. None other has
ever dared even to offer to the sin-stricken hearts of men relief from the
guilt of sin. But He does. He can cleanse, He can pardon, He can purify, He
can save, because He has redeemed. “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed
us unto God by Thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people,
and nation.”

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Will you come and join in our great world-mission of making His
atonement known? Will you turn your back on the littleness, and
selfishness, and cowardice of the past, and arise, in the strength of the
God-Man, to publish to all you can reach, by tongue, and pen, and example,
that there is a sacrifice for men’s sins–for the worst, for the most wretched,
for the most tortured? As you set your face with high resolve towards the
unknown years, take your stand with THE MAN FOR ALL THE AGES;
and let this be your message, your confidence, your hope for all
men-“_Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world_!”

II.
The Birth of Jesus.

“_For unto you is born . . . a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord._” –Luke ii.

11.
“The firstborn among many brethren.”–Romans viii. 29.

The birth of Jesus is one of the great signs of His condescension; and, no
matter how we view it, is perhaps scarcely less wonderful than His death. If
the one manifests His glorious divinity, then the other exalts His wonderful
humanity. If Calvary and the Resurrection reveal His power, does not
Bethlehem make manifest His love? And did not both the former come out
of the latter? The infinite glory which belongs to the cross and the tomb had
its rise in the gloom of the stable. If the Babe had not been laid in the
manger, then the Man would not have been nailed to the tree, and the Lamb
that was slain would not have taken His place on the Everlasting Throne.

I claim, therefore, a little more attention to the events which relate to the
Saviour’s birth, and to the lessons which may be derived from them; and
though, perhaps, something of what I have to say will have already
occurred to some who will read this paper, I will venture to suggest one or
two thoughts as they have been presented to my own mind. Their very
simplicity has made them of service to me.

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I.
He Came.

The nature of the whole work of our redemption is made manifest by the
one fact–He really came. His everlasting love, His infinite compassion, His
all-embracing purpose were from eternity; but we only got to know of it all
because He came. If He had contented Himself with sending messages or
highly-placed messengers, or even with making occasional and wonderful
excursions of Divine revelation, man would, no doubt, have been greatly
attracted, and perhaps even helped somewhat in his tremendous conflict
with evil; yet he might never have been subdued in will, he might never
have been touched and won back to God; he might never have been brought
down from his pride to cry out, “My Lord and my God.” No, it was His
coming to us that wrought conviction of sin, and then conviction of the
truth in our hearts.

He came Himself.

There is something very wonderful in this principle of contact as illustrated
by the life of Jesus. Just as to save the human race He felt it necessary to
come into it, and clothe Himself with its nature and conform Himself to its
natural laws, so all the way through His earthly journey He was constantly
seeking to come into touch with the people He desired to bless. He touched
the sick, He fed the hungry, He placed His fingers on the blind eyes, and
put them upon the ears of the deaf, and touched with them the tongue of the
dumb. He took the ruler’s dead daughter “by the hand, and the maid arose.”
He lifted the little children up into His arms, and blessed them; He
stretched forth His hand to sinking Peter; He stood close by the
foul-smelling body of the dead Lazarus; He took the bread, and with His
own hands brake it, and gave it to His disciples at that last farewell meal.
He even took poor Thomas’s trembling hand, and guided it to the prints in
His hands and the wounds in His side.

Yes, indeed, it is written large, in every part of His life, that He really
came, and that He came very near to lost and suffering men.

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Is there not a lesson here for us, my comrade? As He is in the world, so are
we. This principle in His life was not by accident or by chance, it was an
essential qualification of His nature for the work entrusted to Him. It is a
necessary qualification for those who are called to carry on that work.

Is this, then, the impression you are able to give to those among whom you
labour: that you have come to them in very truth; that in mind and soul, in
hand and heart, you are seeking to come into the closest contact of love and
sympathy with them, especially with those who most need you?

Oh, aim at this! Do not for your own sake, as well as for your Master’s,
move about amid your own people, or among those to whom God and The
Army have given you entrance, as one who has little in common with them,
who does not know them, who does not feel with them. Go into their
houses, put your hand sometimes to their burdens, take a share in their toils,
nurse their sick, weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that
rejoice. Make them feel that it is your own religion, rather than The Army
system, that has made you come to them. Let them see by your sympathy
and kindness that love is the over-mastering influence in your life, the
influence that has brought you to them. Compel them to turn to you as a
warm-hearted unselfish example of the truths you preach. Let them feel that
you are indeed come from God to take them by the hand, as far as may be,
and lead them through this Vale of Tears to the City of Light and Rest.

II.
His Humble Origin.

Everything associated with the advent of Jesus seems to have been
specially ordered to mark His humiliation. It is true that Mary, His mother,
was of the lineage of King David, but her relationship with the royal house
was a very distant one, and the family had fallen upon sad times. The
Romans were masters in the land, and a stranger sat upon the throne of
Israel. Mary, therefore, was but a poor village maiden; Joseph, her
betrothed husband, was a carpenter–an ordinary working man. Bethlehem,
the place of the Saviour’s birth, was a tiny straggling village, which, though

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not the least, was certainly one of the least of the villages of Judea. And
Nazareth, where He grew from infancy to childhood, and from youth to
manhood, was another little hamlet among the hilly country to the north of
Jerusalem, and was held in low repute by the people of those days.

The occupation chosen for the early life of Jesus was a humble one. He
learned the trade of a joiner, and worked with Joseph at the carpenter’s
bench. His associates and friends were of the village community, and He
“whose Name is above every name” passed to and fro and in and out among
the cottage homes of the poor–as one of themselves. Probably none but His
mother had, in these early years, any true idea of the mysterious promise
which had been given concerning Him.

What a contrast it all presents to the years of stress and storm and of victory
which were to follow, and to the supreme influence His teaching and
example were to exert in the world!

Is there not something here for us? Do not the lowly origin and simple
country habits and humble tastes of some of our comrades make them
hesitate on the threshold of great efforts, when they ought to leap forward
in the strength of their God? Let them remember their Master, and take
courage. Let them call to mind the unfashionable, uneducated, uncultivated
surroundings of Nazareth. Let them bear in mind the carpenter’s shed, the
rough country work, the bare equipment of the village home, the humble
service of the family life. Let them, above all, remember the plain and
gentle mother, and the meek and lowly One Himself, and in this
remembrance let them go forward.

To be of lowly origin, or of a mean occupation; to come out of poverty and
want; to be looked down upon by the rich or the powerful ones of earth; to
be treated as of no consequence by governments and rulers, and yet to go
on doing and daring, suffering and conquering for God and right; what is
all this but the fulfilment of Paul’s words, “And base things of the world,
and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are
not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His
presence”? Nay, what is it all but to tread in the very steps that the Master

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trod?

III.
His High Nature.

But if, on the human side, our Redeemer’s origin and circumstances were of
the humblest, and we are thus enabled to see His humanity, as it were face
to face, there was united with it the Divine nature; so that as our Doctrines
say, “He is truly and properly God, and He is truly and properly man.”
Many mysteries meet by the side of that manger, some of them to remain
mysteries, so far as human understanding can grapple with things, till God
Himself reveals them to our stronger vision in the world to come. But,
blessed be God, some, things that we cannot compass with our mental
powers are very grateful to our hearts.

How Thou canst love me as I am, Yet be the God Thou art, Is darkness to
my intellect, But sunshine to my heart.

And we to whom the Living Christ has spoken the word of life and liberty,
although we may not now fully comprehend this great wonder of all
wonders –God manifest in the flesh–and may not be able effectively to
make it plain to others, we cannot for ourselves doubt its central truth–that
GOD dwelt with man.

Here was, indeed, a perfect union of two spirits. There was the suffering
and obedient spirit of the true _man_; there was the unchanging and Holy
Spirit of the true God. It was a union–it was a unity. It was God in man–it
was man in God. A being of infinite might and perfect moral beauty, sent
forth from the bosom of the Father; and yet a being of lowly and sensitive
tenderness, having roots in our poor human nature, tempted in all points
like as we are, and touched with the feeling of all our infirmities.

Is it not to something of the same kind we are called? Is not every true
Salvation Army Officer designed by God to be also (not, of course, in the
same degree, but still up to the measure of his own capacity and of his

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Master’s will) a dual, or two-fold creature, with associations and roots and
attachments in all that is human, and yet with the divine life, the divine
spirit, divine love, divine zeal, divine power, divine fire united with him
and dwelling in him?

The perfect man would have been a great marvel, a great teacher, a great
prophet; but without the God he could never have been the perfect Saviour.
The Divine, without the human, would have been an awe-inspiring fact, a
spectacle of holiness too great for human eyes; but He could not have been
a Saviour. If it were possible for us to conceive the one without the other
we should certainly not find a JESUS in either.

And so, your merely human Officer, no matter how pure, how strong, how
thoughtful, how clever, how industrious, will fail, and ever fail. And even
so the Officer who is lost in visionary seeking after the Divine alone, to the
neglect of action, of duty, of law, of self-denial, of the common conflicts
and contracts of the man, will equally fail, and always fail. It is the man we
want. The MAN–but the man born of the SPIRIT. The MAN–but the man
full of the HOLY GHOST. The MAN–but the man with PENTECOST
blazing in his head and heart and soul.

Comrade, what are you? Are you striving to be a prophet without
possessing the spirit of the prophets? Are you trying to be a priest without
the priestly baptism? Are you labouring to be a king without the Divine
anointing? Beware!

IV.
From Infancy to Manhood.

Birth implies the weakness, the dependence, the ignorance of infancy. But
it implies, also, the promise of growth, of increase, of advance from infancy
to manhood. Thus it is with man generally. So it was with the Son of Man.
First, He was “wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.”
Presently He goes forth in His mother’s arms into Egypt, and back to
Nazareth. By and by it is written that “the Child grew and waxed strong in

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spirit, and the grace of God was upon Him.” Then He is found in the
Temple, asking that wonderful question about His Father’s business, and at
last we find Him “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God
and man.”

We know, also, that He was found in fashion as a servant, and was obedient
unto death; that He was tempted of the Devil, and that “He learned
obedience by the things that He suffered.” In fact, a very slight
acquaintance with the history of His life reveals the truth that in some
wonderful way He steadily grew in wisdom and grace; in the power to love
and to serve, and in strength to grapple with sin and death–all the while He
journeyed from the cradle to the grave and the victory beyond.

His life was a discipline, in the very highest sense of the word. Many of the
hopes He might rightly entertain about the success of His work were
dashed. Much of His love for those around Him was disappointed, and His
trust betrayed. He was despised where He should have been honoured:
rejected where He should have been received. “He came unto His own, and
His own received Him not.” “Not this man,” they cried, “but Barabbas.” But
out of it all He came forth perfect and entire, lacking nothing–the chiefest
among ten thousand, the altogether lovely. It may be a mystery, but it is a
fact all the same, that the more the precious and wondrous and eternal jewel
was cut and cut again, the more the light and glory of the Day-spring from
on High was made manifest to men.

And here also I find a word of help and courage and cheer for you and me,
my precious comrade. I am not sure that you could receive any more
valuable Christmas gift than the full realisation of this truth–_that your
advance from the infancy to the manhood of your life in God will not be
hindered and delayed, but rather will be helped and quickened by the
storms and trials, the conflicts and sufferings, which will overtake you_.

It was so with the man Christ Jesus; it has been so with thousands of His
chosen. As He, our dear Lord, was made perfect through suffering, so are
His saints. We are “chosen in the furnace of affliction,” and often cast into
it, too! And yet He who chooses all our changes, might have spared us

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every trial and conflict, and taken us to victory without a battle, and to rest
without a toil. But He knows better what will make us men, and it is men
He wants to glorify Him–men, not babes.

The dark valleys of bitterness and loneliness are often better for us than the
land of Beulah. A certain queen, once sitting for her portrait, commanded
that it should be painted without shadows. “Without shadows!” said the
astonished artist. “I fear your Majesty is not acquainted with the laws of
light and beauty. There can be no good portrait without shading.” No more
can there be a good Salvationist without trial and sorrow and storm. There
might, perhaps, remain a stunted and unfruitful infant life–but a man in
Christ Jesus, a Soldier of the Cross, a leader of God’s people, without
tribulation there can never be. Patience, experience, faith, hope, love, if
they do not actually grow from tribulations, are helped by them in their
growth. For what says the Apostle? “Tribulation worketh patience, and
patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.”

The finest pine-trees grow in the stormiest lands. The tempests make them
strong. Surgeons tell us that their greatest triumphs are often those in which
the patients have suffered most at their hands–for every stroke of the knife
is to heal. The child you most truly love is the one you most anxiously
correct, and “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” Oh, do believe that by
every blow of disappointment and sorrow He permits to fall upon you, He
is striving to bring you to the measure of the stature of a man in Christ
Jesus. Do work with Him in the full knowledge that He will not forsake
you. He, the Man who has penetrated to the heart of every form of sorrow,
and left a blessing there; He who has watched in silence by every kind of
earthly grief, and found its antidote: the Man who trod the wine-press
alone–He will be with you.

And, since He is with you, see to it you acquit yourself well in His
presence. It is related of an old Highland chief that when advancing to give
battle he fell at the head of his clan, pierced by two balls from the foe. His
men saw him fall, and began to waver. But their wounded captain instantly
raised himself on his elbow, and, with blood streaming from his wounds,
exclaimed, “Children, I am not dead; I am looking to see if you do your

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duty!”

My comrade, this is the path of progress, the way of advance from the
littleness and weakness of infancy to the battles and victories of manhood.
It is the way of duty, and your Captain, with the wounds in His hands and
His side, is looking on.

III.
Contrasts at Bethlehem.
The birth and infancy of Jesus–notwithstanding that Christmas time comes
round again and again–receive less attention than they deserve; owing, no
doubt, to the interest attached to the events of His manhood and death.
Nevertheless, they suggest some useful lessons, especially to those of us
who have much to do with the weak and trembling, and are ourselves, alas!
often weak and trembling, too. May I offer one or two thoughts on the
subject, which, though quite simple, have proved of blessing to my own
heart?

I.
Great weakness may be quite consistent with true greatness and goodness.

It is unnecessary to dwell even for a moment on the weakness of the Infant
Jesus. The Scripture has left no possible doubt about it.

Unable to speak, to walk, indeed to do anything for Himself–weak with all
the weakness of the human race; yea, more truly helpless than a young bird
or a tiny worm, the Holy Child was laid in the manger hard by the beasts
that perish.

And yet we know that there was the Divine SON, the Express Image of the
Father, the Everlasting King, the Enthroned One, the Creator, “without
whom was not anything made that was made”! It is indeed a contrast,
which first astounds us, and then compels our adoration and love. Our God

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is a consuming Fire–our God is a little Child. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the
Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory–and yet He is there in
fashion as a Babe, for whom, in all His sweet innocence, they cannot find a
room in the crowded inn.

Yes, my friend, to be weak, to be small, to be sadly unfit for the strifes of
time; to feel weary and unequal to the hard battles of life; to realise that you
are pushed out and away by the crowd, to be contemptuously forgotten by
the multitude shouting and singing across the road–all this may be your
case; and yet you may be God’s chosen vessel, intended –framed “to suffer
and triumph with Him.” You, even you, may be destined by His wisdom to
fill for Him some great place in action against the hosts of iniquity and
unbelief. Above all, you may be appointed by God the Father to be like His
Son, with a holy likeness of will, of affection, of character.

For, indeed, weakness in many things is not inconsistent with goodness,
and purity, and love. The manger has in this also a message for us. Out of
that mystery of helplessness came forth the Lion-Heart of Love, which led
Him, for us, to the winepress alone, and which, while we were yet rebels,
loved us with an everlasting love, going, for us, to a lonely and shameful
death. Take heart, then, remembering that it is out of weakness we are to be
made strong. Be of good courage–to-day may be the day of the enemy’s
strength, when you are constrained to cry out: “This is your hour and the
power of darkness!” but to-morrow will be yours. The weakness and
humiliation of the stable must go before the Mount of Transfiguration, the
Mount of Calvary, the Resurrection Glory, and the exaltation of the Father’s
Throne. Take heart!

II.
_A condition of complete dependence may be quite consistent with a great
vocation–the call, that is, to a great work_.

I suppose that there is nothing known to man so absolutely dependent upon
the help of others as a little child! Life itself begins in total dependence
upon another life, and is only preserved in still greater dependence on

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powers outside itself–for air, for light, for heat, for food, for clothes, for
comfort–indeed, for every needed thing. This is especially the case with the
child. The young lions and sheep, the tiny flies and the small fishes–these
are all able to do something for their own support; but the new-born babe
presents a picture of complete dependence. And this Babe was no
exception. What a service of imperishable worth to all the world was
rendered by His mother in her loving care of Him!

And yet we know something of the stupendous task to which He came!
That little Child was to become the greatest Example, the greatest Teacher,
the greatest, the only Saviour, the greatest Healer of the sorrows of men,
the greatest Benefactor, the greatest Ruler and King. Upon Him and upon
His word, who lies there in His Virgin mother’s arms, dependent on her
breast for life and warmth, unnumbered multitudes were to rest their all for
this life and the next–tens of thousands, in the face of inexpressible
agonies, were to trust to Him their every hope, and for His sake were to die
a thousand deaths.

Let not, then, your heart be troubled because you also are so dependent on
others–so hedged in by your circumstances, so limited by sickness and
pain, so incompetent through inexperience and ignorance, or that you are so
compelled to stand and wait when you would fain rush on and do or dare
for your Lord. All this may be even so, and yet you may be called to share
in the same high vocation as your Saviour.

I read lately of an old saint chained for weary years to a dungeon-wall,
unable even to feed himself, whose testimony for Jesus was powerful to the
deliverance of many of his persecutors. He was killed at last, lest, one by
one, he should convert the jailers also who were employed to supply him
with food.

Are you “bound” in some way? Are you chained fast to some strange trial?
Are you appointed to serve in what seems like a den of beasts? Are you
under the compulsion of some injustice? Are you made to feel helpless and
useless without the support of those around you? Ah, well, do not repine.
Do not forget that God’s call comes often–Oh, so often–to just such as

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you–to witness for Him in spite of “these bonds,” to declare the truth, to
dare to reprove sin. Above all, _do not doubt your God. You may be very
dependent to-day, but you may be more than victorious to-morrow_.

III.
Poverty and friendlessness are often found in company with a great heart.

There was no home for Jesus in Bethlehem. There was no room for Him in
the inn. There was no cradle in the stable. There was no protector when
Herod arose to kill. What a strange world it is! Did ever babe open eyes on
such a topsy-turvy condition of affairs? The King of Glory had not where to
lay His head! Mary, it is true, was strong in faith, but both she and Joseph
must needs soon fly into Egypt with the Babe. Refused at the inn, soon
even the stable must cast them out!

He came to take all men into His heart, and they, ere ever they saw Him,
cast Him forth as an outlaw!

And we who know what it means to be loved of Him, what can we say?
Our hearts are bowed with something of shame and grief that He thus
suffered, and yet we have a secret joy because He suffered so well! For of
all the greatnesses of the Babe this is the greatest–the greatness of His
heart. “The Sacred Heart of Jesus,” the Romanists call it. “The
All-Conquering Heart of Jesus,” I prefer to name it. For it was His wealth
of love that really gave Him the victory.

Does one read these lines who is poor, who is cast out by those who are
dear, who is a stranger in a strange land, who is driven from “pillar to post,”
who is harassed by open foes and wounded by secret enmity? Well, to that
one let me say, remember your Lord’s poverty and friendlessness;
remember the tossings up and down of His infancy; the frugal cottage home
in Nazareth wherein His family was finally gathered–despite its bareness
and toil–was a place of peace and abundance, compared with the stable, the
flight into Egypt, and the sojourn among aliens there.

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Are you, dear friend, tempted to complain of your narrow surroundings, of
your small opportunity to shine before others, or of a want of appreciation
of your service and gifts and powers by those who should know you? Oh,
remember the Babe, and the long years of His condescension to men of low
estate, to the cramped surroundings of the carpenter’s shed, and the sleepy
Jewish village. Are you tried sometimes because you have to suffer the
hatred or jealousy, secret or open, of those for whom you feel nothing but
goodwill, and who perhaps once thought themselves happy in your
friendship? Well, in such hours, remember your Master, and the hatred of
Herod seeking to kill the Child. Try to call to mind something of the secret,
as well as the open, bitterness of men, religious and irreligious alike, which
began to hunt Him while yet in swaddling clothes, and which hunted Him
still all through His days.

But amidst it all, what a great heart of passionate love was His! Blessed be
His Name for ever! Whether the poverty and suffering and hatred were or
were not favourable to it, there it was–the Great Heart of all the world.
What about you? Can you ever be again the same since you learned that He
loved you? Can you ever be again content to remain little and narrow, with
interests and affections that are little and narrow also? Will you not rise, as
He rose, above the small ambitions of the spiritual pigmies who meet you
at every turn, determined to look beyond your own tiny circle, and the low
aims of those around you? Depend upon it, you ought to do so. Depend
upon it, the Holy Saviour can enable you to do so. Depend upon it, the
world’s great need is “Great Hearts.” Will you be one?

IV.
Christ Come Again.
“_And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling
clothes, and laid Him in a manger_.”–Luke ii. 7.

“Christ formed in you.”–Gal. iv. 19.

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The life of Jesus Christ in Palestine was a foreshadowing of His life in all
who accept Him. God appointed Him a Saviour, not only because He
should bring redemption nigh by a sacrifice which He alone could offer, but
because He was also appointed to be the firstborn of many brethren, to be
the head of a new family, the beginning–the new Adam–the first of a new
line, in which character should cease to be merely human, even though
perfect with all human perfections, and should become a union of the
human and the Divine; in which, in fact, the body and mind and spirit of
man should continue to exhibit the wonder of Christ’s Incarnation, and
show forth God clothed with man.

The life of Jesus divides itself quite naturally into several distinct periods,
each having its own special characteristics and peculiar history. There is
His birth and infancy; His childhood; His youth; His manhood; His
perfected or completed life following Calvary and the Resurrection; and,
may we not say, His eternal glory, upon which a few of His disciples saw
Him begin to enter in the transcending splendour of the Ascension.

Every one of these phases or sections of His wonderful experience of earth
has its continuing lessons for us. All speak aloud to us of His purposes and
plans, and reveal to us the power and force of His inner life in the outward
or public appearances and acts which belong to each. God has hidden many
things from us–mysteries of nature, of grace, of eternity; but this mystery
of God’s relations to men, He has exhausted His resources in order to make
plain. Before all else the life of Jesus is a revelation of the mind and
methods, the principles and the practices of God, as they ought to appear,
and as they ought to work out, amid the surroundings and limitations of
humanity.

It is to the beginnings of that life to which our thoughts turn at this
Christmas season. We dwell with affection on the oft-depicted picture, and
repeat the oft-repeated words, and join in the old, old Hallelujahs of the
shepherds with something of the zest and freshness of a first love. The story
is so unlike all others, and touches with such unerring potency chords in the
human soul which call it to a higher and nobler life, that, no matter who
gazes upon the Babe of Bethlehem, he feels a kinship with all the world in

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hailing the Desire of all Nations. The manger, the silent companions of the
stable, the swaddling clothes–what a touch of human
tenderness–motherliness, so to speak–is in that line, “and wrapped Him in
swaddling clothes”!–the adoring shepherds, the star, the wise men (all
thoughts of their wisdom for the moment gone); the gold, the frankincense,
the myrrh, the rejoicing and yet trembling mother, the little Child–we see it
all. Seeing, we believe; and believing, we rejoice. The Day Star from on
High hath visited us. We know in whom we have believed. The great
condescension is before us. Strength has made itself dependent on
weakness, cause upon effect, eternity upon time, God upon man; and He
has done it for our sakes.

The Divine condescension never appears so new and so real to us as when
we stand at the side of this lowly cradle. Here are no high-sounding
doctrines, no hard words, no terrible commands, no far-off thunders of a
new Sinai, no rumblings of a coming Judgment. Here we see Jesus, and
Jesus only. Jesus showing Himself in our very own flesh and blood;
submitting Himself to the weakness of our infirmities; voluntarily clothing
Himself with our ignorance, and making God the present tangible
possession of the whole human family, bringing Him “_very nigh to us, in
our mouth and in our heart, if we can but believe_.” And, more than this,
God joined in that Babe His great strength to our great nothingness; He
bound us to Himself; He robed us, as it were, with Himself, and He robed
Himself in us. Henceforth the Tabernacle of God is with men. Henceforth
every one of us may be conscious of an inward Presence, of which we may
say in holy joy: “Angels and men before Him fall, and devils fear and fly.”

It is this manifestation of Jesus in His people for which the Apostle prays in
the words I have quoted, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth
again until Christ be formed in you.” Nothing less will satisfy him, because
he knew that nothing less will prevail against the power of the world, the
flesh, and the Devil, in any human heart. “Christ formed in you,” Christ
born again in them–that is his agonised prayer, his one hope for them.

In the workshops of human effort no instruments, no skill, no motive power
exist for the formation and development of character apart from the

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energising vitality of God’s Spirit dwelling in us. He is the indispensable
foundation of any goodness, or wisdom, or beauty that can last. Purity
begins and ends in Him. Faith finds her author and finisher in Him. Truth,
which is the beauty of the soul, is but a reflection of His image, and love
has no being but in Him. And so Paul says, Let Him in. Conformity to His
example is only possible by the re-formation in you of His life, and the
growth again in you of His person; the mind of Christ in your mind, the
spirit of Christ in your spirit, the presence of Christ in your flesh and blood;
the motive power of Christ, the Father’s will, prompting your every thought
and word and deed, and thereby transforming your body into a temple of
the Son of God.

And, because, in this unity of purpose with the Father, the Christ of Glory
stooped to the infancy and childhood of Nazareth, yielding Himself
completely to the bonds and limits inseparable from the life and conditions
of a little child, and thinking no humiliation of our nature too deep for His
love to tread, so He will condescend to the lowest depths of weakness and
want revealed in your heart and life. He will meet you where you are. He
will deal with you just where you are weakest and worst. This is indeed the
key-note of all that God has to show you. It is your own link in the long
chain of patient and ever-new revelations of God to man.

For what is the history of man, what is the story the Bible has to tell, what
is the testimony of all time, but that God has ever been speaking to man,
appearing to man, opening now his eyes, and now his understanding, and
now his heart, and making an everlastingly new revelation to the soul that
God in him is his sole hope of glory. And His Christmas-message to-day is
still the same. To you, if you are willing, Christ will come as really, as
sensibly, as wonderfully–nay, a thousand times more so–as He came to
Mary and to Bethlehem. In truth, a second coming; but in many and
wonderful ways like unto the first.

I.
The childhood of Jesus was attended by remarkable recognitions of His
Divinity. At His birth, at His dedication, in Herod’s instant resolve to kill

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Him, in the Temple with the fathers, by many clear tokens men confessed
and acknowledged that He was the Son of God. If He is being formed in
you there will be equally definite and not very dissimilar signs of
recognition.

First, before all else, you will know, with Mary, that the new life entrusted
to you is Divine; that God has entered into your heart to make all things
new. It is just the absence of this assurance which stamps so much of the
Christianity of the present day as–in effect–a religion without God. Its
professors have no certainty. They seek, but they do not find; they ask, but
they do not receive; they have no sure foundation in the sanction of their
own consciousness to the indwelling Person; they have no revelation; they
have, in short, no God. How far–even as the east is from the west–is this
from the glorious confidence with which Mary sang, and in which you can
join, if, indeed, your Christ is come: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and
my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

Salvation is of the Lord, and so is the assurance of it. Where there is the life
of God, there will be His witness, even in the heart of the weakest and
slowest servant of all His household. If you are not clear about this first
evidence of your Lord’s coming, let me counsel you that there is something
wrong. _If Christ be formed in you, you will assuredly know it beyond the
power of men or devils to make you doubt_.

But others than Mary also acknowledge this appearance of God “manifest
in the flesh.” The shepherds and the Wise Men, Holy Simeon, and Herod
the king, each in his own way adds his own tribute to the New Life that had
come down to man.

The shepherds and the strangers from afar bow down and worship.
Strangers, perhaps, were more ready to rejoice with you than your own kith
and kin when first Christ came to you.

Simeon, who had so desired to see the salvation of God, sees and is
satisfied. Perhaps some Simeon had thus watched and waited and wept for
you, and when the Lord came to His temple, he saw it, and was ready to

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depart with joy.

Herod the king sought to kill the Child. So it is even now. Don’t be
deceived; where Christ comes, storms come. The world of selfishness and
power and wealth will kill the Divine Thing in you, if it can. Between the
prince of this world and the Prince of the world to come no truce was
possible long ago in quiet Judea, and no truce is possible now. The spirit of
the world is still the spirit of murder. It is called by other names to-day,
and, under its influence, men will tell you that the life of God in you is not
to take those forms of violent opposition to wrong, and of passionate
devotion to right, and of burning zeal and self-denial for the lost, which
they took in Jesus. The real meaning of their tale is that they are seeking to
kill the Child.

But do not be dismayed. Remember Mary’s flight into Egypt. The great
peril of her Son made her regardless of her friends, of her reputation, of her
home, of her life. She must guard that precious Life at any cost, at any risk,
at any loss. Is there not a lesson in her example? Let nothing, let not all the
sum total of this world’s pleasures and possessions lead you to risk the Life
of God in your soul. Listen to no voices that counsel friendship, or parley,
or compromise with the world–the spirit of Herod is in it. If you cannot
preserve that Indwelling without flying –from somewhere, or something, or
some one–then fly. If you cannot guard that Presence without losing all,
then let all be lost, and in losing all you shall find more than all.

II.
Side by side with these evidences of His Divinity the infancy and childhood
of Jesus revealed His dependence and weakness; that is, the reality of His
human nature.

The first recorded act of His mother shows us one aspect of that weakness
after a fashion which appeals to the tenderest recollections of the whole
human family, “_She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes_”; and then, as
though to mark for ever the perfection of dependence, the history goes on,
“and laid Him in a manger.” There are other equally striking incidents

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teaching just as clearly that the Babe was a babe, and that the Child was
really a child. It is the perfect union of Him “Who was, and is, and is to
come,” with him who flourisheth as the flower of the field; the wind
passeth over him, and he is gone.

Even so may Christ be formed in you. The purity and dignity of His life
will be all the more wonderfully glorious in the eyes of men and angels
because it is linked with dependence and trial, and weakness and sorrow.
As it was at Nazareth, so it is now. Hand in hand with Divinity walked
hunger and weariness, poverty, disappointment, and toil. Did we think it
would be otherwise? Did we, do we, sometimes wonder why the road is so
rough, and the burden so heavy, and the sky so dark? Are we found asking
the old question about sitting on the twelve thrones, judging those around
us, and sharing in some way the royal glory of a King? and is there an echo
of murmuring at these bonds and infirmities and drudgeries of daily duty
and common sorrow? So did the Rabbis of old, and, in consequence,
refused Him.

Ah! the answer to it all is in the one word, it was because “He was made
perfect through suffering;” it was because He learned obedience by the
things He suffered that He must do it again through you–in you. Every
energy of your being may thus be sanctified. Every pain, every sorrow,
every joy, every purpose will be–not taken away; not crushed and hardened
into a series of unfeeling forms and empty signs; not passed over as having
no relation to his life, but touched and purified and ennobled with the love
and power of an indwelling God.

Yes, it is man whom He came to restore–it is man, whose beauty and
power were the glory of creation, that drew Him with infinite attractions
from the centre of His Father’s heaven, and plunged Him into the centre of
a very hell of suffering and shame. It was man whose nature, passing by the
angels, He took upon Him. It was man He swore to save. He loves our
manhood–its will–its intelligence–its emotions–its passions; and it is our
manhood He has redeemed. He designs to make men really men, to
cleanse–to restore–to indwell in them, and finally to present every one in
the beauty of a perfected character before the presence of His Father,

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without spot or blemish or any such thing.

It is this great principle of Redemption that has found expression in The
Salvation Army. We are of those who see in every human being the ruins of
the Temple of God; but ruins which can be repaired and reconstructed, that
He may fit them for His own possession, and then return and make them
His abode.

Never listen to that fatal lie, that to be a man means of necessity to be
always a sinner; that humanity is only another word for irreclaimable desert
or irreparable despair. When the enemy of your soul whispers to you out of
his lying heart that because sin has found one of its strongholds in the
appetites and propensities of your poor body, or in the original perversity of
a rebellious spirit, and that you cannot be expected to triumph over that evil
nature because it is your nature, remember Bethlehem, and answer him
with the promise of God, “_I will dwell in you, and walk in you_.” It was
because He purposed to cleanse wholly, body and soul and spirit, that He
came, taking the body, soul, and spirit of a man, and that He will come
again, taking your body, soul, and spirit as His dwelling-place.

III.
The birth and childhood of Jesus were the beginning of His great sacrifice,
as well as the preparation for it. The spirit of Bethlehem and the spirit of
Calvary are one. He was born for others that He might die for others. The
mystery of God in the Babe was the beginning of the mystery of God on the
cross. The one was a part of the other. If they had not “laid Him in a
manger” for us, they could never have laid Him in the tomb, that He might
“taste death for every man.” And it was because “He grew, and waxed
strong in spirit, and increased in wisdom, and the grace of God was upon
Him” in those early years, that He was able afterwards to tread the
winepress alone, to work out a perfect example of manhood, to wrestle with
Death and the Grave, and finally to stand forth for us as the great
Victorious One, conqueror of all our foes.

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And is it not in this same fashion and for this same purpose that Christ is to
be formed in us? “He grew.” Progress is the law of happiness, the law of
holiness, the law of life. To stand still is to die. It was not enough for the
fulfilment of His great mission that He should be born, that He should
live–He must grow.

Let us take that lesson to our hearts, in this superficial, painted, rushing
generation. Let us beware of resting our hope to satisfy the eternal claims
of God upon some great event in our spiritual history of long ago. It is not
enough to have been converted. It is not enough to have had the adoption of
the Father. It is not enough to have entered the spiritual family of Christ. It
is not enough that even Jesus revealed Himself in us. Thousands of false
hopes are built on these past events, which, divinely wrought as they may
have been, have ceased to possess any vital connexion with the life and
character of to-day. Such a religion is a religion of memory, destined to be
turned in the presence of the Throne to unmixed remorse.

But how, and in what, are we to grow? In manner and in substance like our
Lord. Jesus grew in strength and stature, in wisdom and in grace–the grace
of God was upon Him.

_In spiritual strength and stature_; that is, from the timid babe to the bold
and valiant soldier; in the power to do the things we ought to do, in the
ability to obey the inward voice. It is by the exercise of the muscles and
tendons of the babe that the bodily frame is fitted for the rush and struggle
of life. It is by the A B C of the infant class that the mind is fitted to
comprehend and appreciate the duties and obligations of political, social,
physical, and family relationships. It is by the humble wail of the penitent,
and the daily acts of loving help, that the soul learns to soar on eagles’
wings, and shout the truth that God is gracious, and to brave difficulty and
danger in His service. They go from strength to strength. Are you so
journeying?

In wisdom. Wisdom is a thing of the heart more than of the brain, and the
wisdom of God is really a revelation of the love of God. To be “wise unto
salvation” is to learn the lesson of love. To be “wise to win souls” is first to

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love souls. To feel that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” is the
fruit of love. How different this from the calculating wisdom of this world!

Dear comrade and friend, are you taking care that the Divine Life in you
shall grow after this Christ-like fashion? When I hear Christian people say:
“Oh, I have so little love, so little faith, so little joy,” I generally find that it
is so because they stifle and quench the blessed yearnings of the Divine
Spirit to seek the souls of others; because they leave unanswered the
urgings and promptings of duty which God in their conscience is
demanding; because they neglect prayer, and self-denial, and
heart-searching, and the Word of God; because, in short, they starve the
Child. What wonder if love and faith are feeble, and joy is like to die!

“And the grace of God was upon Him.” Here was the promise of that entire
sacrifice for men which culminated when a man cried out to Him on the
cross: “_He saved others; Himself He cannot save_.” It is ever thus that
God repeats Himself. When we are ready to be offered up for the blessing
and saving of others, then grace will come upon us for the struggle as it
came upon Him. When Christ formed in us finds free course for all His
mind and all His passion; when our eyes are opened to the great purposes
of His life in the salvation of the whole world; and when we hear, through
Him, the cry of those for whom He was born, and for whom He died, God
will pour out on us grace to send us forth–grace sufficient, grace abundant,
grace triumphant. Have you come to this? Can you say He is thus dwelling
in you, and working in you, to will and to do of His good pleasure?

Do not turn away with the paralysing fear that it cannot be; that the life of
Jesus can never be lived out again in flesh and blood. Remember, He is
“_the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever_.” All He was in Bethlehem,
to Mary and Joseph; all He was to His work-mates at Nazareth; all He was
in the wilderness, fighting with fiends, in the deserts feeding the hungry, or
among the multitude–healing the sick, blessing the little children, casting
out devils, and preaching the Kingdom; all He was in Bethany, weeping
over Lazarus, and crying, “Lazarus, come forth”; in the garden of His
agony, in the darkness of His cross, in the hour of His Resurrection, all
this–all–all–all–He is to-day. He belongs to the everlasting Now. All He

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was to the martyrs who died for His Name, all He has been to our fathers,
He is to us, and will be to our children, for with Him is no variableness nor
shadow of turning. Yes! This unchanging Christ “_is in us, except we be
reprobate_,” the Life and Image of God, and the Hope of Glory.

V.
The Secret of His Rule.
“_For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin_.”–Heb. iv. 15.

We hail the Christmas season as the anniversary of our King’s birth. Our
eyes turn to the manger, and our hearts to Mary, for a thousand and one
reasons, but the chiefest is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem as the Divine
Son and the Royal Branch.

Although we know that many shadows darken the way of the Cross, and
that it is roughened by many thorns and agonies, many dark descents and
weary struggles, we have always the assurance that at the end, and at the
right time, there will be a crown and a throne.

Standing at the manger, and looking over the hills of hatred and suffering,
we can already see the great white Throne. From the wilderness of the
Temptation we can even catch a glimpse of the marriage supper of the
Lamb. In the darkness around the cross, we have visions of a great
multitude, which no man can number, casting their crowns at the feet of the
Crucified. Written large on all the life of Jesus there is, in fact, the witness
that He will triumph. We know and feel it. It is revealed even when it is not
stated. It is assured even when not promised.

But I do not think that it is by virtue of this that Jesus Christ has exerted His
greatest influence on the hearts of men. To be a king, to be in the royal line,
is a great thing; and to be the Divine King is infinitely greater. To be a
king, however, is one thing; to be a ruler is often quite another. The right

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descent, the royal birth, the due recognition, the ultimate taking possession
of the throne, are enough to make the king, but far from enough to make the
ruler.

Principles, of course, there are, very important and far-reaching, involved in
any sort of kingship. We have all heard of “the divine right of kings.” We
all see–even if we cannot understand it–the love of peoples for a king.
Even when the heads of states are called by some other name than king, the
fact of kingship is still there. All this denotes the working of great
principles, having their roots in the deepest feelings of the human race. But
I repeat, that to rule is quite another thing than to be a king. History
abounds with examples of great monarchs who have not ruled, and of true
rulers who have had no royal blood and no kingly throne.

And just as there are facts in human experience which have made kings
necessary and possible, so are there principles by which alone it is possible
to rule.

The kingship and rule of Jesus Christ our Lord was no exception. It is not
my purpose to dwell here on the great and unchanging demands of the
human soul which make His sovereignty a necessity of our well-being alike
as citizens, and as individuals of His world. Unless the Lord is King, all
must be confusion, dissonance, and disaster. The supreme fact in human
life after all is, that our God is “the creator, preserver, and governor of all
things.”

But what of His rule? There another principle comes into operation. On
what is His rule based? By what agency does He extend His authority until
it becomes _control_?

And here it must be remembered that He aspires to rule men’s hearts. His
kingdom is moral and spiritual first, and then physical and material. That is
why it will endure for ever. It is in the region of motive and affection, of
reason and emotion, of preference and choice, that He designs to be Ruler.
It is to reign in men’s hearts that Christ laid aside His heavenly crown and
throne. If He cannot be a Ruler there, then He will account little of His

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kingship in the skies.

By what, then, does He rule? _Is it not by His compassion_? Has not that
been the chief influence which has drawn men to Him, and held them in
His service?

Just think for a moment of one or two commonplace facts.

I.
The Children.

At least three-fourths of the human family are always little children. To
what does He owe the influence He exercises in the minds and hearts of
multitudes of these little ones? His exalted throne? His royal lineage? His
majesty? No; I think not to these, but to the revelation of His pity, His
sympathy, His patience, His sweet, forgiving grace, His tender compassion
as a Saviour. To them He is the “Friend above all others”–the Lowly One,
the “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” Viewing Him thus, they confess to Him
in sin, they fly to Him in sorrow.

His creative power, His everlasting habitations, His throne of
unapproachable glory, His glorious and terrible judgments, are little more
to the children than words and phrases–may I not say?–at best but the
“trappings” of His person. They solemnise, they inspire, perhaps, with
reverent fear; but they do not, they could not, secure that true ascendency
over the nature of the child by which alone there can be real control and
true rulership.

II.
The Sorrowful.

Sorrow is the most common of all human experiences. There are no homes
without it, and there are very few hearts which have not tasted of its cup.
Earth is a vale of tears. Sooner or later, all men suffer. “Man is born unto

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trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” and to millions of men Christ has
appeared in their affliction and taken possession of their lives.

What was the secret of His influence over them? Was it His dominion from
sea to sea? Was it even His victory over death and His kingly conquest of
the grave? Was it His sovereign throne of power? No, I do not think it was
thus He won them; but as “the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief,”
who learned obedience by the things that He suffered, and who could
compassionate with them in their sorrows also.

It is one of the commonplaces of life that people associated in great
suffering and trials obtain great influence with each other. And it is so here.
Let the human heart once realise that in its deepest depths of sorrow it may
have for helper One who has been deeper still; and it is in the nature of
things that it should fly to that One for succour, for sympathy, for strength.
And when that One out of His riches gives of His own might, and of His
own sweet, unfathomed consolations, then His government is assured, His
rule is established.

III.
The Tempted.

Did I say that sorrow was the commonest of all human experiences? Ought
I not to have said _temptation_? We all know the reality of temptation: its
biting wounds, its power to assail, to harass, to irritate, to worry; its appeals
to the senses, the animal in us; its assault of our confidence; its liberty to
terrorise and to torment.

Yes, every man is tempted. How shall he withstand temptation? What is it
in Jesus Christ that calls the sorely-tempted one to Him? Is it His divine
purity, His kingly holiness, His might as the supreme Sovereign whose law
is good? No; I think that only those who have learned to love Him will love
His law. Is it not rather the wonderful pity of Him of whom it is written,
“We have a great High Priest, . . . touched with the feeling of our
infirmities, . . . in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”?

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Touched with the feeling of our infirmities. There is the attraction of a
supreme compassion for the tempted. There is the means by which the King
of Righteousness becomes also the Ruler over tempted and sinful men.

I can add but one other word now.

If it is only by His continual compassion that our Master obtains and
maintains His rule, will it not be by a similar means that we may hope to
bless and influence the souls of men? Yes; that has been already the great
lesson of The Salvation Army. It is founded on sympathy, on a universal
compassion.

The moment we turn away from that, and rely merely on our system, or on
methods, or our teaching, we cease just in that proportion to be true
Salvationists. We aspire to rule men’s hearts. We care nothing for the
position of a church or sect; we care everything for a real control over the
souls and conduct of living men and women, that we may lead them to God
and use them for His glory. It is by tenderness we shall win it. By seeking
them in their sorrows and sins; by making them feel our true heart-hunger
over them, our true love, our entire union with the Christ in His compassion
for them.

And the same principle will hold good in training those whom we have
already won. This was, no doubt, the secret of Paul’s great influence with
his people. His whole heart was theirs; and they knew it. “We were gentle
among you,” he says, “even as a nurse cherisheth her children; so, being
affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you,
not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear
unto us.”

We know his courage, his lofty standard, his splendid impatience of shams,
his tenacity of the truth, his contempt for danger, his daring unto death; and
yet he can say of himself that, with it all, he was gentle among them as a
nurse cherishing her children–ready to give up his very soul for them.

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Ah, Colonel, Captain, Sergeant, leaders all, whatever name you bear, do
you want to lead and rule the people whom God has given you as a charge?
Then here is the true secret of power–be for ever pouring out your heart’s
deepest, tenderest love for them, and most of all for the weak and the most
unworthy and sinful amongst them. Do this, and you will not merely be
walking after Paul–you will be walking with Christ.

VI.
A Neglected Saviour.
“_And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were
heavy_.”–Matt. xxvi. 43.

I.
There are few more instructive or more touching things in the life of our
Lord Jesus Christ than His evident appreciation of human sympathy.
Whether we observe Him at the marriage feast, or in the fishing-boat, or on
the Mount of Olives, or when spending a time apart with His disciples, or
in the Garden of His Agony, this appreciation expresses itself quite
naturally and consistently. The Son of Man, though one with the Father, yet
found joy and comfort in the society of men. What we call
“companionship” had real charms for Him. It helped to draw Him out to the
hungerings and thirstings of men; it assisted in revealing to Him the facts of
human sin, and the needs of the human soul. Thus it enabled Him more
perfectly to be our living example, as well as the propitiation for our sins.

And as He valued the consolations arising from human friendship and love,
so also He had to suffer the loss of them, in order that He might carry out
His great work for God and man. For His work’s sake, His soul was
required to pass through the agony of losing every human consolation.
Many were His moments of bitterness. The world proved itself to be, what
it still remains, a cold-hearted affair; His own, to whom He came, received
Him not. But the bitterest sorrow which can come to a leader was added to
His cup, when He witnessed the failure of His trusted disciples in the hour

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of trial, and when He realised that their unfaithfulness was towards Himself
as a person, as well as to the great mission to which He had consecrated
both Himself and them.

Now, when we are called upon to suffer in the same way, may we not be
brought into very intimate fellowship with Jesus? Shall we complain
because the servant is not above his Lord? Shall we doubt His love, and
care, and power, because He does not always shield us from that same blast
of loneliness which swept over His own soul in the Garden, when for the
second, aye, and for the third time, He found His three disciples asleep?

II.
Sad as it is, it is none the less certain that we, too, must expect some in
whom we have trusted to fail us in that hour when we most need them, be it
the hour of supreme temptation, or of great opportunity, or of deep sorrow
for the Kingdom’s sake. It was precisely this which happened to our Lord. It
is bad to be so dependent on men–even on the most beautiful, or most
perfect souls–that we cannot fight on without them. The dependence of
love must work hand in hand with the independence of faith, if we are to
take our share in this trial of our Master and to profit by it.

Those who thus fail us will, perchance, be the very persons upon whom we
have most reason to rely, and whom in some sore trial of our faith or
moment of danger, we have specially called upon for defence and prayer,
for strength and sympathy, as did our Lord in the case of these disciples.
Until now, Peter had been a valiant, not to say, reckless follower of Jesus;
while all, John especially, had been well beloved and tenderly watched over
by Him. And yet this woeful sleep deadens them to it all. Even for one
short hour they cannot watch with Him.

III.
But such failure on the part of those who were loved and trusted will add
immensely to the burden of the battle that we are fighting for God and the
souls of men. It did so even to Jesus. Nothing more pathetic, more deeply

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heart-moving, is written in all God’s Book, than this simple picture of the
Man of Sorrows–struggling for the life of the human race, absolutely bereft
of human aid–coming in the midst of His dark conflict to seek the touch of
sympathy, a hand-grasp, a word, a look from those His well-loved
followers, only to find them asleep in the gloom. Retracing His steps, He
casts Himself on the ground, and cries, “My Father, if it be possible, let this
cup pass from Me.” Am I wrong in saying that it was an added ingredient
of bitterness in that cup to find that these, His trusted ones, could only
sleep, while He must go forward to suffer?

But their failure did not stop Him. No, not for one moment. There was
agony in His heart, there were death shadows around Him, and bloody
sweat upon His brow, but He did not waver. He went right on to finish the
work He had promised to do. Gladly would He have had them with Him;
steadfastly He goes forward without them! Here also is a lesson for you and
for me. The work is more than the worker. And in times when we must
lose, for our work’s sake, that which we count dearer to us than our lives,
when the iron of disappointed love enters our souls, as it entered His, we
must follow Him, and go forward, steadfastly forward.

IV.
And after all, the failure of the disciples was very human. Their eyes were
heavy. They were weary and sore tired. This, too, is typical of many of the
losses we Salvationists are called upon to suffer. Some on whom we have
relied and trusted grow weary in well-doing. The strain is so great! The tax
on brain and heart and hand is so constant! Life becomes so burdened with
watchings and prayings and sufferings for and with others, that there is
little, if any, time or strength left for oneself! And so they cannot keep up,
but seek rest and quiet for themselves elsewhere. They are heavy, and no
longer feel the need to watch with us.

Dear comrade, in your like trial do not doubt that the Lord Jesus is with
you. Suffering of this kind will help to liken you to Him–it is a very real
bearing of the Cross of Christ. Pitiful followers of Him should we be, if we
wished to have only joy when He had only suffering.

Our Master

V.
But the disciples’ strange failure did not call forth one word of bitterness
from our Lord’s lips. A gentle reproach was certainly implied in the words,
“Could ye not watch with Me one hour?” but no shade of personal
displeasure expressed itself, much as the occasion might seem to warrant it.
No! Jesus knew the failures begotten of human weakness, as well as the
horror of human sin. And so He made allowances, and was as patient with
those who left Him, as He was tender to those who were steadfast. He
loved them both.

Go thou, and do likewise. In your home; in your family circle; in your
Corps; in your office; in your work, be it what it may; when men fail and
forsake your Lord; even if all disappoint and desert you, you must love
them still. Be faithful with them; but, above all, be steadfast in your own
purpose, and devote all your zeal and strength to finish the work that God
has given you to do. In short, go forward without them; but let your words,
and thoughts, and prayers for them be like your Master’s.

And Jesus utters no word of complaint about this failure. The silence all
through that great anguish is indeed very wonderful. Abandoned by man,
He abandoned Himself all the more earnestly to His work for men without
a murmur. And abandoned by God–as for a little time it seemed–He all the
more completely abandoned Himself to God. To have fellowship with Him,
you and I will have to walk the same path, and mind the same rule.

When friends, or followers, or comrades trample upon the solemn
covenants made alike to us and to God, and forsake, and leave us to finish
our work and tread our winepress alone, let there be no moaning because of
the pain it inflicts. When those upon whom we had a right–right by reason
of natural law, or right by reason of the obligations and precious vows of
friendship, or right on the ground of spiritual indebtedness–when those, I
say, upon whom we had a right to depend fail us, let there be no
complaining of their treatment because it is painful to us. Let there be no
filling of the earth with laments and wailings, no accusing of our accusers,

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no reviling of those who revile us. Let us be silent in the patience of Jesus
and in the strength of His love, and let His way of meeting the loneliness of
desertion be our way–let us pray.

But all the same, that sleep, that failure to respond to the personal claim of
Jesus, was a sure forerunner of the cowardly flight, and the deadly denial
which followed it. The seeds of Peter’s lies and curses were sown in the
selfishness and slumber of the garden; they came to maturity in the kitchen
of the judgment hall. Poor Peter! How many hours of bitter self-reproach
would you have been spared, had you but held out during that one brief
hour of your watch in Gethsemane! How differently we could have
regarded your poor wobbling nature! How differently, too, your Lord’s
great trial would have come to Him! How different might have been the
history of mankind!

VI.
The method of love which Jesus adopted towards the forsakers received the
sanction of success, for they all came back. In spite of their shame and their
fears, they returned to their allegiance, with, I think, much more than their
old faith and love. Judas was the only exception, and even he sought a
place of repentance, and, but for his horrid league with the jealous and cruel
religionists, would, I think, have found one.

You see the lesson? If you go on with your work for God, and finish it,
paying no heed to those who, having put their hand to the plough, look
back; and if, in spite of your sorrow, you will struggle steadily forward in
the face of the coldness and carelessness of those between whom and you
there was once the tenderest love, God will not only carry you through your
appointed labour for the world, but He will restore many of those others to
their allegiance to Him and His.

Will they ever be quite the same? Will they not have lost something? Yes,
they will indeed have lost; but, if they come back, in reality they will gain
more. The new union will be more divine than the former one. They will
not merely

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. . . rise on stepping stones Of their dead selves to higher things;

but the beauty, and excellence, and glory of love, the exceeding
profitableness of enduring grace, and the sweet aroma of faithfulness, will
be the more clearly manifest to the sons of men by reason of the weakness
and breakableness of the human vessel.

Let us, then, press forward, without one backward glance, until we finish
our work. Let us thank God for those who are faithful; let us love and pray
for those who fail, expecting to see them restored, healed, and purified.

VII.
Windows in Calvary.
“_And they crucified Him . . . And sitting down they watched Him
there_.”–MATT, xxvii. 35, 36.

Passing words spoken in times of deep emotion often reveal human
character more vividly than a lifetime of talk under ordinary circumstances.
Conduct which at other times is of the most trifling significance, reveals in
the hour of fiery trial, the very inwards of the soul, even making manifest
that which has been hidden, perhaps, for a generation. Thus, while
watching a man with the opportunity and the temptation to deceive or
oppress those who are in his power, you may see into the very thoughts of
his heart; you may learn what he really is. Or you may measure the depths
of a mother’s love in observing her when, after violating every principle she
has valued and lived for, her prodigal boy comes to ask her to take him in
once more.

In the same way, words spoken by the dying are often like windows
suddenly uncovered, through which one may catch a glimpse of the ruling
passion of life, in the light of which their life-witness and life-labour alike
look different. It is this fact which often gives the dying hour of the
meanest, importance as well as solemnity. The veriest trifler that ever
trifled through this vale of tears has, in that last solemn hour something to

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teach of the secrets of mortality.

And this revelation of the real facts of human experience is of the highest
value to the world. It is one of God’s witnesses to truth, that truth will out.
Sooner or later, selfishness and sin will appear in their naked deformity, to
horrify those who behold them; and in the end, justice and truth and love
are certain to be made manifest in their natural beauty, to convince and to
charm and to attract their beholders.

It is not only one of the uses of trial to bring this about, but it is one of the
means by which God converts to His own high purposes, the miseries and
sorrows the Devil has brought in. The one burns the martyrs; the other
brings out of that cruel and frightful wrong the glorious testimony which is
the very seed of His Church. The one casts us into fiery dispensations of
suffering and loss; the other takes these moments of human anguish and
desolation, and makes of them open windows through which a doubting or
scoffing world may see what love can do. Thus He makes us to triumph In
the midst of our foes, while working in us a likeness to Himself, the
All-patient and All-perfect God.

Nor is it the good and true alone who are thus made object-lessons to
others, and to themselves, by these ordeals of pain. By them, many a bad
man also is forced to appear bad to himself. Many a hypocrite, anxious
about the opinions and the traditions of men, is at last stripped of his lies to
see himself the wretched fraud he really is. Many a heart-backslider, whose
religion has long ceased to be anything but a memory, awakes to the shame
of it and to the danger; and often, thank God, awakes in time.

Now, the words of the dying Christ on His cross are, in the same way, a
true and wonderful revelation of His character and His spirit. As it is only
by the light of the sun that we see the sun, so it is by Jesus that Jesus is best
revealed. Never one spake like He spake; and yet in this respect, so real was
His humanity, He spake like us all–He spake out what was in Him. The
Truth must, above all, and before all, make manifest what is true of
Himself.

Our Master

To whom, then, did our Lord speak on the tree, and what spake He? What
special thoughts and beauties of His soul do His words reveal?

Jesus, so far as His words have been recorded for us, spoke from the cross
to Mary His mother, to one of the thieves who was crucified with Him, to
God His Father, and to Himself.

I.
His Words to Mary.

“_When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by,
whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then
saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother_!”

The position of Mary in those last hours was peculiarly grievous. She had
lived to see the breaking down of every hope that a mother’s heart could
cherish for her son. Standing there amidst that mob of relentless enemies,
and watching Jesus, forsaken by God and man in His mortal agony, her
present sorrow, great as it was, was crowned by the memory of the holy
and happy anticipations of His birth, and the maiden exultations of her soul
when the angels foretold that her Son should be the Saviour of His people
and their King. How cruelly different the reality had turned out! How far,
how very far away, would seem to her the quiet days in Nazareth, the
rapture of her Son’s first innocent embraces, and the evening communions
with Him as He grew in years! What tender memories the sight of those
dear bleeding feet, those outstretched, wounded hands, would recall to that
mother’s heart! Yes, Mary on Calvary is to me a world-picture of desolate,
withering, and helpless grief–of pain increased by love, and of love
intensified by pain!

And Jesus in His great agony–the Man of Sorrows come at last to the
winepress that His heart might be broken in treading it alone; come to the
hour of His travail; come to the supreme agony of the sin-offering; face to
face with the wrath of the Judge, blackness and tempest and anguish
blotting out for the moment even the face of the Father–forsaken at last

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–FORSAKEN–Jesus, in this depth of midnight darkness sees her standing
by the cross. Bless Him, Oh, ye that weep and mourn in this vale of tears!
Bless Him for ever! His eyes are eyes for the sorrowful. He sees them. He
has tears to shed with them. He is touched with the same feelings and
moved by the same griefs. He sees Mary, and speaks to her, and in a word
gives her to John, and John to her, for mutual care and love. It was as
though He said, “Mother, you bare Me; you watched and suffered for Me,
and in this redeeming agony of My love, I remember your anguish, and I
take you for ever under My care, and I name you Mine.”

Surely, there never was sorrow like unto His sorrow, and yet in its darkest
crisis He has eyes and heart for this one other’s sorrow. Far from Him, as
the east from the west, is any of that selfish thought and selfish seclusion
which grief and pain so often work in the unsanctified heart, aye, and in the
best of us. What a lesson of practical love it is! What a message–especially
to those who are called to suffer with Him for the souls of men–comes
streaming from those words spoken to Mary. The burden of the people’s
needs, the care of the Church, the awful responsibility of ministering to
souls–these things, sacred as they may be, cannot excuse us in neglecting
the hungry hearts of our own flesh and blood, or in forgetting the claims of
those of our own household.

Dear friend and comrade, in your sorrow, in your sore trial of faith, in your
Calvary, take to your heart this revelation of the heart of the Son of Man,
and be careful of the solitary and heart-bleeding ones near you, no matter
how humble and how unworthy they may seem.

II.
His Words to the Thief.
“_And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shall thou be
with Me in Paradise_.”
The crucifixion of the two robbers with Jesus was a sort of topstone of
obloquy and disgrace contrived by His murderers with the double object of

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further humiliating Him in the eyes of the people, and of adding poignancy
to His own agony. The vulgarity and shamefulness of it were the last touch
of their contempt, and the last stroke of His humiliation. There was a kind
of devilish ingenuity in this circumstantial way of branding Him as a
malefactor. And yet in the presence of this extremity of human wickedness
and cruelty, Jesus found an opportunity of working a wondrous work of
God; a work which reveals Him as the Saviour, strong to save, both by His
infinite mercy and by His infinite confidence in the efficacy of His own
sacrifice.

“_To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise_.” Eyes and heart for the
sorrowful He had, as we see; and now ears, and hope nigh at hand, for the
sinful. No word of resentment; no sense of distance or separation between
the spotlessness and perfection of His character and this poor lonely
convict–but a strange and wonderful nearness, now and to come. “With
Me,” He says–“With Me in Paradise.” Ah! this is the secret of much in the
life of the Son of God–this intimate, constant, conscious nearness to
sinners and to sin! He had sounded the depth of evil, and, knowing it, He
pitied, with an infinite compassion, its victims; He got as near as He could
to them in their misery, and died to save them from it.

That heart-nearness to the thief had nothing to do with the nearness of the
crosses. Every one knows what a gulf may be between people who are very
near together–father and son–husband and wife! No, it was the nearness of
a heart deliberately trained to seek it; a heart delighting in mercy, and
deliberately surrendering all other delights for it; hungering and thirsting
for the love of the lost and ruined.

The hart panteth after the waters, The dying for life that departs, The Lord
in His glory for sinners For the love of rebellious hearts.

And so He is quite ready, at once, to share His heaven with this poor
defiled creature, the first trophy of the cross. Again–what a lesson of
love!–how different, all this, from the common inclination to shrink away
from contact and intercourse with the vile! Oh, shame, that there can ever
have been such a shrinking in our poor guilty hearts! The servant is not

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above his Lord. He came to sinners. Let us go to them with Him!

III.
His Words to the Father.

“_Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do_.”

This prayer for His murderers is a revelation of the wonderful nearness and
capacity of love. The Saviour passes from pole to pole of human ken, to
find a ground on which He can plead for the forgiveness of those cruel and
wicked men; and He finds it in their ignorance of the stupendousness of
their sin against Him. It seems as though He chooses to remain in ignorance
of what they did know, and to dwell only on what they did not. “They know
not what they do!”

It was ever so with Him! He has no pleasure in iniquity. Wrong-doers are
so precious to Him that He never will magnify or exaggerate their wrong-no,
not a hair’s breadth. He will not dwell on it–no, not a moment, except to
plead some reasonable ground for its pardon, such as this–the ignorance of
the wrong-doer, or the rich efficacy of His sacrifice. He will only name sin
to the Father, in order that He may confess it for the sinner, and intercede
for mercy and for grace.

This is the old and ever new way of dealing with injuries, especially
“personal injuries.” _Is it yours_? Are you seeking thus after reasons for
making the wrong done to you appear pardonable? Is your first response to
an affront or insult or slander, or to some still greater wrong, to pray the
Father for those whom you believe to be injuring you, that His gracious gift
of forgiveness may come upon them?

That is the principle of Calvary. That is the spirit, the mind of Christ. That
is the way in which

He won the meed and crown: Trod all His foes beneath His feet, By being
trodden down.

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“_Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit_.”

Death has always been held to afford a final test of faith, and here the
human soul of Jesus passed through that mortal struggle which awaits us all
when heart and flesh shall fail. “_Into Thy hands_”–that is enough. As He
passes the threshold of the unknown–goes as we must–into the Valley of
the Shadow, faith springs forth and exclaims, “Into Thy hands.” All shall be
well. In this confidence I have laboured; in this confidence I die; in this
confidence I shall live before Thee.

IV.
To Himself.

“It is finished!”

Thus in His last, ever-wonderful words Jesus pronounces Himself the
sentence of His own heart upon His own work. _It is completed._ Every
barrier is broken down, every battle is fought, every hellish dart has flown,
every wilderness is past, every drop of the cup of anguish has been drunk
up, and, with a note of victorious confidence, He cries out, “It is finished!”
Looking back from the cross on all His life in the light of these words, we
see how He regarded it as an opportunity for accomplishing a great duty,
and for the fulfilment of a mission. Now, He says, “The duty is done–the
mission is fulfilled; the work is finished!” Truly, it is a lofty, a noble, yea, a
godlike view of life!

Is it ours? Death will come to us. “The living know that they shall die.” The
waters will overflow, and the foundations will be broken up, and every
precious thing will grow dim, and our life, also, will have passed. We shall
then have to say of something, “It is finished!” It will be too late to alter it.
“There is no man that hath power in the day of death.”

_What, then, shall it be that is finished_? A life of selfish ease, or a life of
following the Son of Man? A life of sinful gratification, of careful thought
of ourselves, unprofitable from beginning to end, or a life of generous

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devotion to the things which are immortal in the honour of God and the
salvation of men?

VIII.
The Burial of Jesus.

Good Friday Fragments.

“_And after this Joseph of Arimathoea, being a disciple of Jesus, but
secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the
body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the
body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to
Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred
pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen
clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the
place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new
sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore,
because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at
hand_.”–John xix. 38-42.

Death has many voices. This death and burial speak aloud in tones of
triumph. It as a death that made an end of death, and a burial that buried the
grave. And yet it was also a very humble and painful and sad affair. We
must not forget the humiliation and poverty and shame written on every
circumstance any more than the victory, if we would learn by it all that God
designed to teach.

“He tasted Death.”

To many, even among those who have been freed from guilty fear,
mortality itself still has terrors. By Divine grace they can lift up their hearts
in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection, and yet they shrink with
painful apprehension at the thought of the change which alone can make

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that resurrection possible. There is probably no instinct of the whole human
family more frequently in evidence than this repulsion for the grave. Death
is such an uncouth and hideous thing.

Nothing but bones The sad effect of sadder groans; Its mouth is open, but it
cannot sing.

All its outward circumstances help to repel us–the shroud, the coffin, the
grave, the silent shadows, the still more silent worms, the final nothingness.
The mental conditions, too, generally common to the last acts of life, tend
to intensify the feeling: the separation from much that we love, the sense of
unfinished work, the appreciation of grief which death most usually brings
to others: the reality of disappointed hopes, the feeling that heart and flesh
fail, and that we can do no more–all these tend to make it in very truth the
great valley of the dark shadow.

To many, even among the chosen spirits of the household of faith,
approaching death also starts the great “_Why_?” of unbelief. For, in truth,
the death of some is a mystery. It is better that we should say so, and that
they should say so, rather than that we should profess to be able to account
for what, as is only too evident, we do not understand. In confronting death
this mystery is often the great bitterness in the cup. To die when so young!
To die when so much needed! To die so soon after really beginning to live!
To die in the presence of so great a task! Oh, why should it be? How much
of gloom and shadow has come down on hearts and households I have
known, from the persistency of that “Why?” intensifying every repulsion
for the hideous visitor, adding to every other the greatest of all his
terrors–doubt.

Now, in the presence of such doubts–or perhaps I ought rather to call them
questionings and shrinkings–has not this vision of the dead body of our
Lord something in it to charm away our fears? Does it not say to us: “I have
passed on before; I that speak in righteousness, Mighty to save. I have
trodden the winepress alone. At My girdle hang the keys of life and death;
I, even I, was dead; yes, really, cruelly dead; but I am alive for evermore”?

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He tasted death. The king of terrors was out to meet Him. The long
shadows of the gloomy valley really closed Him round, and He crossed
over the chilly stream just as you and I must cross it–all alone. Nothing
was wanting which could invest the scene, the hour, the circumstances with
horror and repulsion. There was pain, bodily pain; there was mental
anguish; there was the howling mob, the horrid contempt for Him as for a
malefactor; the lost disciples and shattered hopes; the reviling thief; the
mystery of the Father’s clouded face; the final sinking down; the letting go
of life; the last physical struggle–when He gave up the ghost and died.

Yes. He passed this same way before you. He wore a shroud. He lay in a
grave. The last resting-place is henceforth for us fragrant with immortality.
The very horrors, and shadows, and mysteries of the death-chamber have
become signs that death is vanquished. The tomb is but the porch of a
temple in which we shall surely stand, the doorway to the place of an
abiding rest. “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I
would have told you.”

Living or dying–but especially when dying–we have a right to cry with
Stephen, the first to witness for Christ in this horror of death, “Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit.” To Him we commit all. He passed this way before with
a worn and bruised body, in weakness and contempt, with dyed garments
and red in His apparel, and on Him we dare to cast ourselves–on Him and
Him alone. On His merits, on His blood, on His body, dead and buried for
us. He will be with us even to the end–He has passed this way before us.

II.
“_A Savour of Death unto Death._”

A celebrated Roman Emperor who had in the very height of his power
embarked on a campaign for the extermination, with all manner of
cruelties, of the followers of Jesus Christ, spoke one day to a Christian,
asking him in tones of lofty contempt and derision:-

“What, then, is the Galilean doing now?”

Our Master

“The Galilean,” replied the Christian, “is making a coffin!” In a few years
the great Emperor and the vast power he represented were both in that
coffin!

Since his day, how many other persecutors have also journeyed surely to it!
How many infidels–nay, how many systems of infidelity, have passed on
to dust and oblivion in that same casket! What multitudes of doubters–of
ungodly, unclean, unregenerate–have been laid within its ever-widening
bands! What vast unions of darkness, hatred, and cruelty, under the
leadership of the great and the mighty, have been broken to pieces beside
that coffin! How much that seemed for a time proud and rich and great in
this poor world’s esteem, has at last passed into it, and disappeared for ever!
Yes, the martyr of long ago, on the blood-besmeared stones of persecuting
Rome, was right, the Galilean Saviour and King not only made a Cross, but
He made, and He goes on making, a coffin!

Will you not have His Cross? Is there no appeal to you to-day from that hill
side, without the city wall? Does it not speak to you of the power, the
sweetness and nobleness of a life of service, of sacrifice for others, of toil
for His world. Has it no message for you of victory over sin and death, of
life from the dead–life, abundant life, in the Blood of the Son of Man!
Believe me, unless you accept His Cross, He will prepare for you a coffin.
“The wages of sin is death.” It matters not how noble your aspirations, how
lofty your ideals of life and conduct, how faithful your labour to raise the
standard of your own life– unless you accept the Cross, all must go into the
grave. Your highest aims, together with your lowest, your most cherished
conceptions, your most deeply-loved ambitions, all must be entombed.
“Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it
shall fall it will grind him to powder.”

If His death-sacrifice be not a savour of life unto life it must be a savour of
death unto death. This is the single alternative. Jesus Christ in life and death
is working in you, in us all, toward one of these ends– either by love and
tears and the overflowing fountain of His passion to gather us into the
union of eternal life with Him and with the Father; or to entomb us–all that
we have and all that we are–in the death and oblivion of the grave He has

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prepared.

III.
“And He was Buried.”

For a little time they lost Him. The grave opened her gloomy portals; they
laid Him down, and the gates were closed–for a little time. And yet He was
just as really there, as really alive for evermore, as really theirs and ours, as
really a victor–nay, a thousand times more so, than if He had never bowed
Himself under the yoke of Nature. He was gone on before, just a little
while, that was all.

Is not that the lesson of His burial for every one who sorrows for the loss of
loved ones called up higher? Are they not buried with Him? Are they not
gone on before? Are they not ours still? Are we not theirs as really as ever?
He passed through that brief path of darkness and death out into the
everlasting light of the Resurrection Glory. Do you think, then, that He will
leave them behind? The grave could not contain Him. Do you think it has
strength to hold _them_? You cannot think of Him as lying long in the
garden of Joseph of Arimathaea; why, then, should you think of your dear
ones as in the chilly clay of that poor garden in which you laid them?
No–no! they are alive–alive for evermore; because He lives, they live also.

Yes! this was the meaning of that strange funeral of His–this was at least
one reason why they buried Him. It was that He might hold a flaming torch
of comfort at every burial of His people to the end of time. Sorrow not,
then, as those that have no hope. He is hope. Your lost ones, perhaps, were
strongly rooted in your affection, and your heart was torn when they were
plucked up. You cried aloud with the Prophet: “Woe is me, for my hurt! my
wound is grievous. But I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it; my
tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken.” Ah, but remember He
was buried also. He knows about the way. He was there. He has them in
His keeping. They are His, and yours still. You have no more need to
grieve over their burial than over His. They live, they love, they grow, they
rejoice. They are blessed for evermore.

Our Master

And our dear dead will meet us again, if we are faithful, in those bodies
which our Lord has redeemed. That also is the witness of His burial and
resurrection. The corruptible shall put on incorruption. In the twinkling of
an eye shall it be done. And we shall see them in the body once more, even
as His disciples saw Him. They supposed at first that they saw a spirit, but
He said: No! “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me,
and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have!”

This blessed hope is our hope. Love is indeed stronger than death; many
waters, nay, the swellings of Jordan themselves, cannot quench it! Dear
ones, gone on before, we shall embrace you again; hand in hand–the very
same hands–we shall greet our King:-

Together we’ll stand When escaped to the shore, With palms in our hands
We Will praise Him the more; We’ll range the sweet plains On the banks of
the river, And sing of Salvation For ever and ever.

Yes–we know and love you still, because we know and love our Lord.

IX.
Conforming to Christ’s Death.
“_That I may know Him . . . being made conformable unto His
death_.”–Phil. iii. 10.

“Conformable unto His death.” At first sight the words are something of a
surprise. “_His death?_” Has not the thought more often before us been to
conform to _His life_? His death seems “too high for us”–so far off in its
greatness, in its suffering, in its humiliation, in its strength, in its glorious
consequences. How is it possible we should ever be conformed to such a
wonder of love and power? And yet, here is the great Apostle, in one of
those beautiful and illuminating references to his own experience which
always seem to bring his messages right home to us, setting forth this very
conformity as the end of all his labours, and the purpose in all his struggles.
“What things were gain to me,” he says, “those I counted loss for Christ;

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yea, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do
count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him*, having .
. . the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the
power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made
conformable unto His death.”

[Footnote *: Or, as the Revised Version has it in the margin, “not having as
my righteousness that which springs from the law; but that which is
through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on the condition
of faith: . . . becoming conformed unto His death.”]

There are probably deeps of thought and purpose here which I confess that
I cannot hope to fathom; which in the limits of such a paper as this I cannot
even suggest. Is it possible, for example, that the sorrow and suffering
which fall upon those who are entirely surrendered to God and His work
are, in some hidden way, sorrow and suffering for others? Is this what Paul
means when he says in his letter to the Colossians: I “fill up that which is
behind of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for His body’s sake, which is
the Church”? It may be so. This would indeed be a glorious and a
wonderful “fellowship of His sufferings.”

Or, again, consider what an entirely new light might be thrown upon God’s
dealings with us in afflictions and pain, if it should appear, in the world to
come, that, in much which is now most mysterious and torturing to us, we
had but been bearing one another’s burdens! Every one knows how often
love makes us long to bear grief and pain for those dear to us; every one
has seen a mother suffer, in grateful silence, both bodily pain and
heart-anguish, in her child’s stead, preferring that the child should never
know. Suppose it should turn out, hereafter, that many of the afflictions
which now seem so perplexing and so grievous have really been given us to
bear in order to spare and shield our loved ones, and make it easier for
them–tossing on the stormy waters–to reach Home at last? Would not this
add a whole world of joy to the glory which shall be revealed? And would
it not transform many of the darkest stretches of our earthly journey into
bright memorials of the infinite wisdom and goodness of our God?

Our Master

But I pass away from matters of which we have, at best, but a gleam, to
those concerning which “he that runs may read.”

But if Christ upon His cross is meant for an object-lesson to His people, is
it not reasonable to expect that His words spoken in those supreme
moments should throw light upon that conformity to His death of which we
are thinking? The words of the dying have always been received as
revealing their true character. Death is the skeleton-key which opens the
closed chambers of the soul, and calls forth the secret things–and in the
presence of the “Death-Angel” men generally appear to be what they really
are. Our Lord and Saviour was no exception to this universal rule.

To the latest breath, We see His ruling passion strong in death.

His dying words are filled with illuminating truth about Himself, and they
throw precious light upon His death. Let us, then, tarry for a few moments
before His cross, and look and listen while He speaks.

I.
“_Father, forgive them; they know not what they do_.”

Men were doing the darkest deed of time. Nothing was wanting to make it
hateful to God and repulsive to mankind. All the passions to which the
human heart is prone, and all that the spirits of Hell can prompt, had joined
forces at Calvary to finish off, in victory if possible, the black rebellion
which began in Eden. Everything that is base in human nature– the hate
that is in man, the beast that is in man, the fiend that is in man–was there,
with hands uplifted, to slay the Lamb. The servants of the Husbandman
were beating to death the beloved Son whom He had sent to seek their
welfare. It was amidst the human inferno of ingratitude and hatred that
these words of infinite grace and beauty fell from the lips of Love
Immortal. Long nails had just pierced the torn flesh and quivering nerves of
His dear hands and feet; and while He watched His murderers’ awful
delight in His agony, and heard their jeering shouts of triumph, He lifted up
His voice and prayed for them, “_Father–forgive_.”

Our Master

There are thoughts that lie too deep for words. The inner light of this
message may be revealed–it cannot be spoken. But one or two reflections
will repay our consideration. Here was a consciousness of sin. Here was the
suggestion of pardon. Here was prayer for sinners.

A _consciousness of sin_–of theirs–ours–not His own. Infinite Love takes
full account of sin. Boldly recognises it. Straightway refers to it as the
source of men’s awful acts and awful state. “_O My Father, forgive_!” On
the cross of His shame, in the final grip with the mortal enemy, the dying
Christ–looking away from His own sufferings, forgetful of the scorn, and
curses, and blows of those around Him–is overflowing with this great
thought, with this great _fact_–that men’s first imperative, overwhelming
need, is the forgiveness of their sin.

The suggestion of pardon. He prays for it. What a transforming thought is
the possibility of forgiveness! How different the vilest, the most loathsome
criminal becomes in our eyes the moment we know a pardon is on the way!
How different a view we get of the souls of men, bound and condemned to
die, given up to selfishness and godlessness, the moment we stand by the
cross of Jesus, and realise, with Him, that a pardon is possible! The
meanest wretch that walks looks different from us. Even the outwardly
respectable and very ordinary person who lives next door, to whom we so
seldom speak, is at once clothed with a new interest in our minds, if we
really believe that there is a pardon coming for him from the King of kings.

He prays. Yes, this is the great prayer. What an example He has left us! It
was not enough to die for the sinful–the ungrateful–the abominable–He
must needs pray for them. Dear friend, you may have done many things for
the ungodly around you–you may have preached to them, and set them also
a lofty example of goodness; you may even have greatly suffered on their
behalf; but I can imagine one thing still wanting: have you prayed the
Father for them?

Remember, He pleaded for the worst: those very men who said, “Let His
blood be on us, and on our children.” He prayed even for those, and I do not
doubt that He was heard. Indeed, it was, I earnestly believe, His prayer

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which helped on that speedy revival in Jerusalem; and among the three
thousand over whom Peter and the rest rejoiced were some who had urged
on and then witnessed His cruel death, and for whom His tender accents
ascended to the Throne of God amid the final agony of His cross.

Dear friend, are you “becoming conformed unto His death”?

II.
“_To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise_.”

“_He saved others-He saved others–Himself He cannot save!_” Amidst the
din of discordant voices, this taunt sounded out clear and loud, and fell
upon the ears of a dying thief. Perhaps, as so often happens now, the Devil
over-reached himself even then, and the strange words made the poor
criminal think. “_’Others’–‘others’–He saves others–then why not me?_”
Presently he answered the railing unbelief of his fellow-prisoner; and then,
in the simple language of faith, said to the Saviour: “Lord, remember me
when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.”

Jesus Christ’s reply is one of the great landmarks of the Bible. It denotes the
boundary line of the long ages of dimness and indefiniteness about two
things–_assurance of salvation in this life, and certainty of immediate
blessedness in the life to come_. “To-day shalt thou be with Me in
Paradise!” There is nothing like it in all the Scriptures. It is as though great
gates, long closed, were suddenly thrown wide open, and we saw before
our eyes that some one passed in where none had ever trodden before. The
whole freedom and glory of the Gospel is illustrated at one stroke. Here is
the Salvation of The Salvation Army! To-day–without any ceremonies,
baptisms, communions, confirmations, without the mediation of any priest
or the intervention of any sacraments–such things would indeed have been
only an impertinence there–to-day, “TO-DAY shalt thou be with ME.”
Indeed the gates are open wide at last!

But the great lesson of the words lies rather in their revelation of _our
Lord’s instant accessibility to this poor felon_. His nearness of heart; His

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complete confidence in His own wonderful power to save; His readiness of
response–for it may be said that He leaps to meet this first repentant
soul–are all revealed to us. But it is the fact that, amid that awful conflict,
His ear was open to another’s cry–and such another!– which appeals most
to my own heart. With those blessed words of hope and peace in my ears,
how can I ever fear that one could be so vile, so far away, so nearly lost, as
to cry in vain? Nay, Lord, it cannot be.

III.
“_Woman, behold thy son_.”

When Jesus had spoken these words to His mother, He addressed the
disciple He had chosen, and indicated by a word that henceforth Mary was
to be cared for as his own mother. Great as was the work He had in hand
for the world, great as was His increasing agony, He remembered Mary. He
knew the meaning of sorrow and loneliness, and He planned to afford His
mother such future comfort and consolation as were for her good.

This tender care for His own is a rebuke, for all time, to those who will
work for others while those they love are left uncared for; left, alas! to
perish in their sins. If regrets are possible in the Kingdom of Heaven, surely
those regrets will be felt most keenly in the presence of divided families.
And if anything can enhance the joys of the redeemed, surely it must be
that they are “families in Heaven.” Who can think, even now, without a
thrill of unmixed delight, of the reunions of those who for long weary years
were separated here? What, then, will it be-

When the child shall greet the mother, And the mother greet the child;
When dear families are gathered That were scattered on the wild!

And what strength and joy it was to Mary. Looking forward to the coming
victory, He knew that nothing could so possess her mother-heart with
gratitude, and fill her soul with holy exultation as this–that He, the
Sacrifice for sin, the Conqueror of Death, and the Redeemer of His people,
was her Son. And so He makes it quite plain that He, the dying Saviour,

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was Mary’s Son.

IV.
“It is finished.”

There is a repose, a kind of majesty about this declaration which marks it
out from all other human words. There is, perhaps, nothing about the death
of Jesus which is in more striking contrast with death as men generally
know it than is revealed in this one saying. We are so accustomed to
regrets, to confessions that this and that are, alas! _unfinished_; to those sad
recitals which so often conclude with the dirge-like refrain, “it might have
been,” that death stands forth in a new light when it is viewed as the end of
a completed journey, and the conclusion of a finished task. This is exactly
the aspect of it to which our Lord refers. His work was done.

The suffering, also, was ended. Darkness had had its night of sore trial, and
now the day was at hand. Trial and suffering do end. It is sometimes hard to
believe it, but the end is already appointed from the beginning. It was so
with the Saviour of the world; and at length the hour is come, and He raises
His bruised and bleeding head for the last time, and cries in token of His
triumph, “It is finished!”

But is there not also here a suggestion of something more? _Up to that
concluding hour it was always possible for Him to draw back._ “I lay down
My life for the sheep,” He had said; “no man taketh it from Me, but I lay it
down of Myself.” His was, in the very highest and widest sense of the
word, a voluntary offering, a voluntary humiliation, a voluntary death. Up
to the very last, therefore, He could have stepped down from the cross,
going no further toward the dark abyss. But the moment came when this
would be no longer possible; when, even for Him, the sacrifice would be
irrevocable–when the possibility “to save Himself” was ended, and when
He became for ever “the Lamb that was slain,” bearing the marks of His
wounds in His eternal body. When that moment passed, He might well say,
“It is finished.”

Our Master

Is there not something that should answer to this in the lives of many of His
disciples? Is there not a point for us, also, at which we may pass over the
line of uncertainty or reserve in our offering, saying for ever– it is finished?
Is there not an appointed Calvary somewhere, at which we can settle the
questions that have been so long unsettled, and, in the strength of God, at
last declare that, as for controversy of any kind with Him, “it is finished”?
Is there not at this very same cross of our dying Saviour a place where
doubt and shame may perish together–crucified with Him, and finished for
ever?

This would be, indeed, a blessed conformity to His death.

V.
“I thirst.”

This is the first of the three words of Christ which relate specially to His
own inner experiences, and which I have placed together for the purpose of
this paper.

“I thirst.” They gave Him vinegar to drink–or, probably, in a moment of
pity the soldiers brought Him the sour wine which they had provided for
themselves. He seems to have partaken of it, although He had refused the
mixture that had been before offered Him merely to deaden His pain. To
bear that pain was the lofty duty set before Him, and so He would not turn
aside from it one hair’s breadth.

But He humbled Himself to receive what was necessary from the very
hands that had been crucifying Him. He, who could have so easily
commanded a whole multitude of the heavenly host to appear for His
succour, and to whose precious lips, parched in death, the princes of the
eternal Kingdom would have so gladly hastened with a draught from
celestial springs, condescended to ask the help of those who mocked Him,
and to take the support He so sadly needed from His triumphant
persecutors.

Our Master

Oh, you who are proud by nature, who are reserved by nature, who are
sensitive in spirit, who feel every wrong done to you like a knife entering
your breast, and who, when you forgive an injury, find it difficult to forget,
and harder still to humble yourselves in any way to those who, you feel,
have wronged you–here for you is a lesson, here for you is an example, a
precious example, of the condescension of Love. Yes. to love those who
seem to be against you, to love those in whom there always appears to you
to be some difference of spirit or incompatibility of temperament, will
mean, if you are made conformable unto your Master’s death, that you will
be able to receive at their hands services, kindnesses, pity, advice, which
your own poor, fallen nature would, without divine grace, have scorned and
spurned.

VI.
“_My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?_”

Here is a great mystery. No doubt, to the human nature of our Lord, it did
appear as though the Father had forsaken Him, and that was the last bitter
drop in the cup of His humiliation and anguish. If men only knew it, the
realisation that God has left them will be the greatest agony of the sinner’s
doom. And here upon the cross, our Lord, undergoing the penalty of sins
not His own has yet to experience fully the severance which sin makes
between God and the human soul.

But, even to many of those who love and serve God fully, there does come
at times something which is very similar to this strange and dark experience
of our Lord’s. Before the final struggle in many great conflicts, those
inward consolations on which so much seems to depend are often
mysteriously withdrawn. Why it should be so we do not know; it is a
mystery. Some loyal spirits have thought that God withdraws His
consolations and His peace, that the soul may be more truly filled with His
presence, thus substituting for divine consolation the “God of consolation,”
and for divine peace the “God of peace.” In any case we have this comfort:
it was so with our Master. Do not let the servant expect to be above his
Lord.

Our Master

This terrible moment of seeming separation from the Father, and the dark
cry which was wrung from our Saviour’s broken heart, did not, however,
make the final victory any the less. And, if you are one with Him, and have
really set your heart on glorifying Him, and if you can only endure, such
moments will not take from your victory one shred of its joy. Oh, then, hold
on to your cross! hold on to your cross! even if it seems, as it sometimes
may, that God Himself has forsaken you, and that you are left to suffer
alone, without either the sympathy of those around you, or the conscious
support of the indwelling God. Hold on to your cross. This is the way of
Calvary–this is becoming conformable to the death of the Lord Jesus.

VII.
“_Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit_.”

Here our Lord enters upon the extremity of His humiliation. Death must
have been repulsive to Him. If the failure of heart and flesh, the cold sweat,
the physical collapse, the last parting, the solitude and separation of the
grave are all repelling and painful to us, how much more to Him!

And, indeed, the picture which Christ presents to the outward eye in these
last moments is unquestionably one of deep humiliation. The disordered
garments–stained with blood and dirt, the distended limbs, the bleeding
wound in His side, the face smeared with bloody sweat and dust, the torn
brow and hair, and the swollen features, must have combined with all the
horrible surroundings to make one of the most gruesome sights that ever
man saw. And it was at this moment, in His extremity, that He says:
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” “Father, I have done all that
I can do; now I leave Myself and the rest to Thee.”

Here is a beautiful message–the great message about Death. This is, in fact,
the one way to meet the shivering spectre with peace and joy.

But the great lesson of this last word from the cross of Jesus is the lesson of
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob: that faith in the Father is the inner strength
and secret of all true service. It was, in a very wonderful and real sense, by

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faith that He wrought His wonders, by faith He suffered, by faith He prayed
for His murderers, by faith He died, by faith He made His atonement for
the sins of the world. The faith that not one iota of the Father’s will could
fail of its purpose.

Oh, dear comrade and friend, here is the crowning lesson of His life and
death alike–“Have faith in God.” Will you learn of Him? In your extremity
of grief or sorrow–if you are called to sorrow– will you not trust Him, and
say, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my bereaved and bleeding heart”?
In your extremity of poverty–if you are called to poverty–Oh, cry out to
Him, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my home, my dear ones.” In your
extremity of shame and humiliation– arising, maybe, from the injustice or
neglect of others–let your heart say in humble faith, “Father, into Thy
hands I commend my reputation, my honour, my all.” In your extremity of
weakness and pain–if you are called to suffer weakness or pain–cry out in
faith, “Father, into Thy hands I commend this my poor worn and weary
frame.” In your extremity of loneliness and heart-separation from all you
love for Christ’s sake, if that be the path you tread, will you not say to your
Lord, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my future, my life; lead Thou me
on.”

Yes, depend upon it, faith is the great lesson of the cross. By faith the
world was made; by faith the world was redeemed. If we are truly
conformed to His death, we also must go forward in faith with the great
work of bringing that redemption home to the hearts of men; and all we aim
at, all we do, all we suffer, must be sought for, done, and suffered in that
personal, simple faith in our Father and God which Jesus manifested on His
cross, in that hour when all human aid failed Him, and when He cried in the
language of a little child, “_Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit_.”

X.
The Resurrection and Sin.
“_Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was . . . declared to be
the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the

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resurrection from the dead_.”–Romans i. 3, 4.

Just as one of the great proofs, if not the great proof, of the truth of
Christianity is the vast fact of the world’s need for it, so one grand proof of
the Resurrection lies in the fact that no interpretation of Christ’s teaching or
Christ’s life would be worth a brass farthing–so far as the actual life of
suffering man is concerned–without His Death and Resurrection. That
teaching might be illuminating–convincing–exalting; yes, even morally
perfect; and yet, if He did not die, it would be little more than a superior
book of proverbs or a collection of highly-polished copy-book maxims.
That life–that wonderful life–might be the supremest example of all that is
or could be good and great and lovely in human experience; and yet, if He
did not rise again from the tomb, it would, after all, be only a dead
thing–like a splendid specimen of carved marble in some grand museum,
exquisite to look upon, and of priceless value, but cold and cheerless,
lifeless and dead.

For it is a Living Person men need to be their Friend and Saviour and
Guide. The splendid statue might possibly invite or challenge us to imitate
it, but it could never call a human heart to love its stony features. Noble and
pure as Jesus Christ’s example undoubtedly was, it could of itself never
satisfy a human soul or inspire poor, broken, human hearts with hope and
love, or wash away from human consciousness the stains of sin. These
things can only be done by a Living Person. So it is that we are not told to
believe on His teaching or on His Church, but on Him. He did not say
“Follow My methods or My disciples,” but “Follow ME.” If He be not risen
from the dead, and alive for evermore; if, in short, it be a dead man we are
to follow and on whom we are to believe–then we are, indeed, as Paul says,
“of all men the most miserable.”

I.
But it is the life of Jesus, and the evidence of that life, in us that are really
all-important. _No extent of worldly wisdom or historical testimony can
finally establish for us the fact and power of Christ’s Resurrection, unless
we have proof in ourselves of His presence there as a Living Spirit_. With

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St. Paul, we must “know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” That is
the grand knowledge. That is the crown of all knowledge. That is the
knowledge which places those who have received it beyond the freaks and
fancies of human wisdom or human folly. That is the knowledge which
cleanses the heart, destroys the strength of evil, and brings in that true
righteousness which is the power to do right. That is the greatest proof of
the Resurrection.

No books, not even the Bible itself; no testimony, not even the testimony of
those who were present on that first Easter Day, can be so good as this, the
experimental proof. It is the most fitting and grateful, and adapts itself to
every type of human experience. And it is beyond contradiction! What avail
is it to contradict those who can answer, “Hereby we know that we dwell in
Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit”? It is even
beyond argument! For of what advantage can it be to argue with a man that
he is still blind, when he tells you that his eyes have been opened, and when
he declares, “Whereas I was blind, NOW I SEE”?

To us Salvationists, the hope of the world, and the strength of our hard and
long struggle for the souls of men, centre in this glorious truth. He is risen,
and is alive for evermore; and because He lives we live also’ All around us
are the valleys of death, filled with bones–very many and very dry. Love
lies there, dead. Hope is dead. Faith is dead. Honour is dead. Truth is dead.
Purity is dead. Liberty is dead. Humility is dead. Fidelity is dead. Decency
is dead. It is the blight of humanity. Death– moral and spiritual death in all
her hideous and ghastly power–reigns around us. Men are indeed
dead–“dead in trespasses and sins.” What do we need? What is the secret
longing of our hearts? What is the crying agony of our prayers? Is it for any
human thing we seek? No. God knows–a thousand times, no! We have but
one hope or desire, and that is “life from the dead.” We want life, the risen
life–life more abundant–life Divine, amid these deep, dark noisome
valleys of the dead.

Here, then, is our hope. He rose again, and ascended up on high, and
received gifts for men. This is the hope which keeps us going on; this is the
invisible spring from which our weary spirits draw the elixir of an

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invincible courage–Christ, the risen Christ, who has come to raise the
dead! “You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
Hallelujah!

“Dead in sins!” Jesus never made light of sin. He used no disguise when He
talked of it, no equivocal terms, no softening words. There is no single
suggestion in all His discourses or conversations that He thought it merely
a disease, or a derangement, or a misfortune, or anything of that kind, or
that He deemed it anything but a ruinous and deadly rebellion against
God–the great disaster of the world, and the most awful, dangerous, and
far-reaching precursor of suffering in the whole existence of the universe.
He said it was bad, bad all through–in form, in expression, in purpose;
above all, in spirit and desire. That there was no remedy for it but His
remedy. No rains in all the heavens to wash it, no waters in all the seas to
cleanse it away, no fires in Hell itself to purge its defilement. The only
hope was in the blood of His sacrifice. And so He came to shed it, to save
the people from their sins.

That is our hope. We are of those who see something of the fruits of sin,
and to whom it is no matter for the chastened lights of the literary
drawing-room. We know–some of us–how deep the roots of pollution can
strike into human character by our own scorched and blistered histories;
and we know by our observation into what deeps of black defilement men
can plunge. The charnel houses of iniquity must ever be the workshops of
the Salvationist. There we see of the havoc, the cruelty, the debauchment,
the paralysis, the leprosy, the infernal fascination of sin. And we know
there is only one hope–the Lamb that was slain, and rose again from the
dead, and ever liveth for our salvation.

II.
The only really satisfactory test of any faith, or system of faiths, lies in its
treatment of sin. Human consciousness in all ages, and in all conditions of
development, bears witness to the fact of sin with universal and
overwhelming conviction. Men cannot prevent the discomfort of
self-accusation which ever follows wrong-doing. They cannot escape from

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the bitter which always lies hidden in the sweet. They cannot forget the
things they wish to forget. Even when they are a law unto themselves, they
are compelled to judge themselves by that law. It is as though some
unerring necessity is laid upon every individual of the race to sit in
judgment upon his own conduct, and to pass sentence upon himself. He is
compelled to speak to his own soul of things about which he would rather
be silent, and to listen to that which he does not wish to hear.

The proof that this is so is open, manifest, and indisputable. Human
experience in the simplest and widest sense of the word attests it. It stands
unquestioned amid floods of questions on every other conceivable subject.
No system of philosophy, no school of scientific thought, no revelation
from the heavens above or the earth beneath can really weaken it. It is not
found in books, or received by human contact, or influenced by human
example. It is revealed in every man. It is felt by all men. They do not learn
it, or deduce it, or believe it merely. They know it. All men do. You do. I
do.

Many things contribute to this simple and yet supremely wonderful and
awful fact of human experience. One of them is the faculty of thought. Man
is made a thinking creature, and think he must; and if he thinks, he must,
above all, think about himself, about his future, his present, his past. A
great French writer–and not a Christian writer–says on this subject: “There
is a spectacle grander than the ocean, and that is the conscience. After many
conflicts, man yields to that mysterious power which says to him, ‘Think.’
One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the sea
from returning to a shore. With the sailor this is called ‘the tide.’ With the
guilty it is called ‘remorse.’ God, by a universal law, upheaves the soul as
well as the ocean.”

And side by side with this thinking faculty, there is the further fact, that
God will not leave men alone. On those unerring and resistless tides He
sends into the human soul His messages. He visits them. He arouses them.
He compels their attention. In His providence, by acts of mercy and of
judgment–by sorrow and loss–by stricken days and bitter nights, He makes
them remember their sin. All the weapons in His armoury, and all the

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wisdom of His nature are employed to bring men to a sense of guilt–to
prick them to the heart–in order to lead them to recognise and to confess
and to turn away from sin. If, therefore, man by any invention had found
out a way by which he could escape from the consciousness of evil without
putting it away, God would not let him go.

Clearly, then, the initial proof of success in religion must be that religion
can deal satisfactorily with the conscious guilt of sin. To this high test, all
theories, all pretences, all promises must come at last. What are they in
their actual effect on the memories and consciences of men in relation to
their sin? How do they treat with guilt? How do they meet remorse? Can
they silence the clamours of the night? Can they give peace when it is too
late to undo what sin has done? Do they suffice amid the deepening
shadows of the death chamber–the place where ever and anon the forgotten
past comes forth to demand the satisfaction so long delayed?

But these, after all, are only the fruits–some of the fruits of sin. What of the
thing itself? That is the sternest test of all. The mere condemnation of sin,
no matter how fully it harmonises with our sense of what ought to be, does
not satisfy man. The excusing of sin is no better; it leaves the sinner who
loves his sin, a sinner who loves it still. If excuses could silence conscience,
or set free from the bondage of hate or passion, how many of the slaves of
both would soon be at liberty!

The re-naming of evil which has often been attempted during the last two
or three thousand years, and again in quite recent days, has little or no
effect either upon its nature or upon those who are under its mastery. The
new label does not change the poison. Its victim is a victim still. Nor does
the punishment of sin entirely dispose of it, either in the sufferer, or in the
consciousness of the onlooker. No doubt the discovery and punishment of
sin do give men a certain degree of satisfaction, but at best it is only a
relief, when what they need, and what they see their fellows need, is a
remedy. Sending a fever patient to hospital is a poor expedient unless we
cure the disease. Sending a thief to prison is a poor affair if he remains a
thief. It is not in reality a victory over thieving; it is, in fact, a defeat.

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Yes–it is a cure we need. And we know it. A cure which is not merely a
remedy for the grosser forms which evil takes in men’s lives, and their
terrible consequences, but a cure of the hidden and secret humours from
which they spring. The deceitfulness of the human heart. The thoughts and
intents which colour all men do. The lusts and desires, the loves and hates
from which conduct springs. The selfishness and rebellion which drive men
on to the rocks.

The real question for us then is, Can our religion–does our religion, when
tried by the test of human experience–afford any remedy for these? Unless
it does, man can no more be satisfied or be set free by condemnations, or
excusings, or re-christenings, or punishments of sin, than the slave can be
contented with discussions about his owner’s mistakes or emancipated by
new contrivances for painting his chains!

III.
But what is this sin, the consciousness of which is thus forced upon all
–this determined, persistent, active evil? It is not the mere absence of
good-a negative gain–but it is the love of, and the actual striving after that
which is flatly condemned by God, and is in open rebellion against Him.
The centreing of the corrupt heart upon its own corruption. Opposition to
the pure will of God. Pride, falseness, unscrupulous ambition. Self-seeking,
regardless of the means by which its object is obtained. Luxury,
effeminacy, and sensuality. The lusts and fleshly passions. Malice, cruelty,
and envy. The greed of gain. The love and thraldom of the world. There it
is–the running sore of a suffering race. The outflow of the carnal mind,
which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. There is no
getting away from it. “Against this immovable barrier–the existence of
sin–the waves of philosophy have dashed themselves unceasingly since the
birth of human thought, and have retired broken and powerless, without
displacing the minutest fragment of the stubborn rock, without softening
one feature of its dark, rugged surface.”

And the worst of all is that sin is a wrong against God. _Man sins, of
course, against himself._ That is written large on human affairs, so that no

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fool, however great a fool, may miss it. Well may the prophet say, “O
Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself!” Men mix the hemlock for themselves!
The sinner is a moral suicide!

_Man sins against his fellow._ Nothing is more evident to us than that men
tempt and corrupt one another. They hold one another back from
righteousness. They break down virtue, and extinguish faith, and silence
conscience in their neighbours. They act as decoys and trappers for each
other’s souls. They play the Devil’s cat’s-paws, and procure for him the rum
of their fellows, which could not be compassed without their aid. In short,
the sinner is a moral murderer!

But, after all–and it is a hideous all–_the crowning wrong, and the
crowning misery, is that sin is sin against God_.

Unless the Bible be a myth, and the prophets a disagreeable fraud, and the
whole lesson of Jesus Christ’s life and death an illusion, God is deeply
concerned with man. That concern extends to man’s whole nature, his
whole existence, his whole environment; and most of all it is manifest with
regard to his sin. God puts Himself forward in the whole history of His
dealings with men as an intimate, responsible, and observing Party in the
presence of wrong-doing. He watches. He sees. He knows. He will
consider. He will remember or He will forget. He will in no wise acquit the
guilty, or He will pardon. Justice and vengeance are His, and so is
forgiveness. He will weigh in the balances. He will testify against the
evil-doer, or He will make an atonement for him. He will cut off and
destroy, or He will have mercy. He will repay, or He will blot out.

From beginning to end of Revelation–and there is something in the human
soul which strangely responds to Revelation in this matter–we have a
sense, a spiritual instinct, of the truth which Job set forth, “_If I sin, then
Thou markest me, and Thou will not acquit me from mine iniquity_,”
which is confirmed by Jeremiah, “Though thou wash thee with nitre and
take thee much soap, _yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the
Lord God_;” and which is insisted upon by the Apostle when he writes,
“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may

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receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether
it be good or bad.”

Yes, it is against the Lord God men have sinned, and to Him they are
accountable. And they know it. Here again is something which does not
come by observation or instruction, but by an inward sense which can
neither be mistaken nor long denied. Sooner or later, men are compelled to
acknowledge God, and to acknowledge that they have sinned against Him.
As with David, when he cried out, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in Thy sight”–so to every man comes at last the
awakening. We see, as David saw, that whomsoever else we have wronged,
God is most wronged; whomsoever else we may have injured, the great evil
is that we have broken His law and violated His will.

In the light of that experience, sin becomes instantly a terrible and bitter
thing. The fact that sinners can win the approval of men, the honour of
success; that they can hide iniquity; that they can for a time escape from
punishment, makes no difference when God appears upon the scene. Evil
starts up for judgment. Memory marshals the ranks of transgression.
Retribution seems the only right thing to look for. Punishment appears to be
so deserved that nothing else can be possible. In their own eyes they are
guilty. Guilt is branded upon them.

It is from this realisation of having offended God that there spring the dark
forebodings of punishment. Men may dread it, and be willing to make
superhuman sacrifices to escape it, but they expect it all the same. Thus in
all ages men have cried out less for pardon and release from penalty than
for deliverance from the guilt and domination of evil. Their language by a
universal instinct has been like David’s: “Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to Thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy
tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine
iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my
transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only,
have I sinned.”

XI.

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“Salvation Is of the Lord”

“Salvation is of the Lord.”–Jonah ii. 9.

“Work out your own salvation.”–Phil. ii. 12.

Salvation is of the Lord, or not at all. It is a touch; a revelation; an
inspiration; the life of God in the soul. It is not of man only, nor of that
greatest of human forces–the will of man, but of God and the will of God.
It is not mere will-work, a sort of “self-raising” power–it is a redemption
brought home by a personal Redeemer; made visible, tangible, knowable to
the soul redeemed in a definite transaction with the Lord. It brings forth its
own fruits, carries with it the assurance of its own accomplishment, and is
its own reward. It is impossible to declare too often or too plainly that
Salvation is of the Lord.

I.
And yet, around us on every side are those who are relying upon something
short of this new life. They have set up a sort of human virtue in the place
of the God-life. They are slowly mastering their disordered passions. The
base instigations of their lower nature are being thwarted. Greedy appetites
which reign in others are in them compelled to serve. Tendencies to
cunning and falsehood, the fruits of which are only too apparent in the
world at large, they watch and harass and pinch. Animosities, and
jealousies, and envies–those enemies of all kinds of peace–are repressed, if
not controlled.

And these followers of virtue go further than this. They aim at building up a
character which can be called noble, or at least virtuous. And some
succeed–or appear to themselves to do so. They cultivate truth. Honesty is
with them, whether as to their business or their social life, the best policy.
They are just. They are temperate. By nature and by training they are kind
and generous; so much so that it is as difficult to convict them of an
unkindly act as it is easy to prove them more generous and liberal than
many of the professed followers of Jesus. Often they are charitable, giving

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of their substance to the poor; not hard to please, considerate of their
inferiors, patient with one another; in a very high sense they have true
charity. And after long periods of struggle, and lofty and faithful effort,
they may be able to claim that they have developed a fine character; that by
self-cultivation, and perhaps by a kind of self-redemption, they have
produced a very beautiful and desirable being!

I will not stay to inquire how far heart conceit and heart deceit may account
for much of this, or to suggest that a great contrast may exist between the
outer life and the unseen deeps within. I will admit for the moment that all
is as stated, and even more. What, then? With much of grace and beauty, it
may be; trained and tutored in the ways of humility and virtue; able to live
in the constant and kindly service of others, and devoted to truth and
duty–with all these excellencies they may yet be dead while they live.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit.” Generous, lovable, dutiful, honourable flesh, but only flesh. A
chaste, and, if you like to have it so, a useful life, but LIFELESS. A fine
product of a lifetime of labour in the culture of the physical, intellectual,
and moral powers, but, after all–DEAD. For “He that believeth not on the
Son of God hath not life.”

II.
In this view the body, and in a larger degree the mind, becomes a sepulchre
for the soul. All the attention given to education, to refinement and culture,
to the develop ment of gifts–for instance, such as music or inventive
science–to the practice of self-restraint and the pursuit of morality, is so
much attention to the casket that will perish, to the neglect of the eternal
jewel that is enclosed. It may be possible to present a kindly, honest,
law-abiding, agreeable life to our neighbours; to go through business and
family life without rinding anything of great moment with which to
condemn ourselves; to be thought, even by those nearest to us, to be living
up to a high standard of morality, and yet–for all this has to do with the
casket only–to be dead all the while in trespasses and sins.

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The young man who should spend his fortune upon his tomb would be
scarcely so great a fool as he who spends his life on those things in himself
which are temporal, to the neglect of those which are eternal. Only think of
the absurdity of devoting the splendid energy of youth and manhood, the
grand force of will, the skill of genius, and the other gifts which commonly
men apply to their own advancement and success, to the adornment,
enriching, and extension of one’s grave!

And yet this is very much the case of those of whom I am thinking. All
their advances, whether in moral attainment, in personal achievement, or in
worldly advantage, are, at the best, but enlargements and adornments of a
tomb, and of a tomb destined itself to perish!

III.
Do I, then, discourage good works? Has man no part to play in his own
deliverance? Is he, after all, only an animal–the mere creature of
circumstance and natural law? Have I forgotten that “faith without works is
dead”? No, I think not. I have but remembered that works without faith are
dead also. The one extreme is as dangerous as the other. The legal,
mechanical observance of the rules of a right life, apart from a living faith
in Christ, can no more renew the heart in holiness and righteousness, than
can a mere intellectual belief of certain facts about Christ, apart from
working out His will, save the soul, or make it meet for the inheritance of
the saints. In both cases the verdict will be the same. The faith in the one is
“_dead_”; the works in the other are also “dead.”

The fact is, Salvation is a two-fold work. It is of God–it is of man. Did God
not will man’s Salvation he could not be saved. Unless man will his own
Salvation he cannot be saved. God is free. Man also is free. He may set up a
plan for saving himself; but, no matter how perfect, it will fail unless it
have God for its centre. And God, though He has devised the most
infinitely complete and beautiful and costly scheme of redemption for man,
will none the less fail unless the individual man wills to co-operate with
Him. Man is not a piece of clay which God can fashion as He likes. He is
not even a harp out of which He can get what strains He will without regard

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to its strings. There is in man something–a force–an energy– which must
act in union with God, and with which God must act in wonderful
partnership, if His will is to be accomplished.

IV.
It is true, of course, that God does much for a man without his aid. I do not
now refer to material blessings. He it is who gives us “life, and breath, and
all things”–and gives them largely without our effort. But even in man God
does much without his help. He calls. He stirs up conscience. He gives
flashes of light to the most darkened heart. He softens by the hand of
sorrow, and rebukes with the stripes of affliction. Memory, human
affection, hope, ambition, are all made means by the Holy Ghost to urge
men to holiness. The ministry of goodness in others is so directed as to
point multitudes to the way of the Cross. But this will not provide the one
thing needful. Instruction, clear views of the truth, belief in the facts of
God’s love and grace, admiration of Salvation in other lives, even the desire
to declare the Gospel, may all be present, and yet the soul be–DEAD–dead
in trespasses and sins–cursed, bound, and corrupted by dead works. Just as
the noblest and highest efforts of man towards his own Salvation, _without
the co-operating, life-giving work of God_, can result only in confusion and
death; so the most powerful, gracious, long-suffering and tender yearnings
and work of God for man’s Salvation, _without the co-operating will of
man_, can result only in distress, disappointment, and death.

V.
Are you dead? Are you in either of these classes? Are you relying on God’s
mercy; waiting for some strange visitation from on high; depending with a
faith which is merely of the mind upon some past work of Christ; but
without the vital power of His mighty life in you? Filled with desires that
are not realised; offering prayers that are not answered; striving at times to
work out a law of goodness which you feel all the time is an impossibility
for you? Living, so to speak, out of your element–like a fish out of water?
That is DEATH.

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Or are you, on the other hand, depending for Salvation on your own labour
to build up a good character, and to live a decent, honourable, and honest
life? Conscious of advance, but not of victory? The servant of a high ideal,
but without _liberty_? The devotee of your own self? All the powers and
qualities of your nature growing towards maturity, _except the powers of
your soul_? The casket–as life goes on–growing more and more adorned,
while the eternal spirit, the priceless jewel made to receive the likeness of
God and enjoy Him for ever, seems ever of less and less worth to you? That
also is DEATH.

The man who is in either class is dead while he lives. He is a walking
mortuary.

XII.
Self-Denial.
“_If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me_.”–Matt. xvi. 24.

It is a striking thought that self-denial is, perhaps, the only service that a
man can render to God without the aid or co-operation of something or
some one outside himself. No matter what he does–unless it be to pray,
which would hardly be included in the idea of service –he is more or less
dependent upon either the assistance or presence of others. If, for example,
he speaks or sings for God, whether in public or in private, he must have
hearers; if he writes, it is that he may have readers; if he teaches, he needs
scholars; if he distributes gifts, there must be receivers of his charity; if he
leads souls to Christ, these souls must be willing to come; if he suffers
persecution, there must be persecutors; or if, like Stephen, he is called to
die for his Lord, there must be those who stone him, and others who stand
by consenting to his death.

A few moments’ consideration will, I think, also show, that even in the
sphere of our personal spiritual experience, it is very much the same. We
can, after all, do but little for ourselves. Salvation comes to men through

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human instrumentality, and seldom apart from it. We are, I know, saved by
faith; but how shall we believe unless we hear? and how shall we hear
without a preacher? That instruction on the things of God, which is a
necessity for every true child of God, comes almost invariably by the
agency or through the experiences of others.

The joys and consolation of fellowship can only be the result of
communion with the saints. In spiritual things, as in ordinary affairs, it is
the countenance of his friend which quickens and brightens the tired toiler
as “iron sharpeneth iron.” And though it is true that God can, and often
does, wonderfully teach and inspire His people without the direct aid of any
human agent, it is equally true that He generally does so by the
employment of His word, which He has revealed to men, or by the recalling
of some message which has already been received into the mind and heart.

Nor does this in the least detract from our absolute dependence upon Him.
The man who crosses the Atlantic in a steamship is no less dependent on
the sea because he employs the vessel for his journey. We are no less
dependent upon the earth for our sustenance because we only partake of the
wheat after it has been ground into flour and made into bread. And so, we
are no less dependent upon God because He has been pleased to employ
various humble and simple instruments to save, and teach, and guide us.
After full allowance has been made for the power and influence of
intervening agencies, it is in Him we really live, and move, and have our
being.

But I return to my first word. There is one kind of service open to all,
irrespective of circumstances and gifts, which can be rendered to God
without the intervention of anyone. And this we may truly call self-denial.
Much that quite properly comes under that description need
never–probably will never–be known to anyone but God. It may be a holy
sacrament indeed, kept between the soul and its Lord alone.

I.
_There is the Denial of all that remains of Evil in us._

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How many sincere souls, when they look into their own hearts, find, to
their horror, evil in them where they least expected it; find them part stone,
when they should be all flesh; find them bound to earth and the love of
earthly things, when they should be free from the world and the love of the
world; find them occupied, alas! so often with idols and heart-lusts, when
God alone ought to rule and reign. Here is a sphere for self-denial. Here is a
service to be rendered to God, which will be very acceptable to Him, and
which you alone can perform.

And if you would thus deny yourself, then examine yourself. Study the
evils of your own nature. Recognise sin. Call it by its right name when you
speak of it in the solitude of your own heart. If there are the remains of the
deadly poison in you, say so to God, and keep on saying so with a holy
importunity. “Confess your sins.” Attack them as the farmer attacks the
poison-plant amongst his crops, or the worms and flies which will blight his
harvest, and which, unless he can ruin them, he knows full well will ruin
him. That is the “_perfect self-denial_”–to cut off the right hand, and to
pluck out and cast away what is dear as the right eye, if it offend against the
law of purity and truth and love.

But you yourself are to do it. Do not say you cannot, for you alone can. If
you would be His disciple–His holy, loving, pure, worthy disciple–you
must deny yourself. Cry to Him for help as much as you will–you cannot
cry too often or too long–but you must do more than that: you must arise,
and deny your own selfish nature; pinch, and harass, and refuse your own
inward sins, and expose them to the light of God. Confess them without
ceasing, mortify them without mercy, and slay them, and give no quarter.
Say, and say in earnest:-

Oh, how I hate these lusts of mine That crucified my God!– These sins that
pierced and nailed His flesh Fast to the fatal wood.

Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die– My soul has so decreed; I will not
longer spare the things That made my Saviour bleed.

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Whilst with a melting, broken heart, My murdered Lord I view, I’ll raise
revenge against my sins, And slay the murderers too.

II.
There are Denials of the Will.

Human nature is a collection of likes and dislikes. The great mass of men
are governed by their preferences. What they like, they strive after; what
they do not like, they neglect, or refuse, or resist. Many of these
preferences, though not harmful in themselves, lead continually to that
subjection of the will to self-interest, and help that self-satisfaction and
self-love which are the deadly enemies of the soul. Now, true self-denial is
the denial, for Christ’s sake and the sake of souls, of these preferences. To
say to God: “I sacrifice my way for Thy way–my wish for Thy wish–my
will for Thy will–my plan for Thy plan–my life for Thy life”–this is
self-denial.

Nothing can be more acceptable to a good father’s heart than the knowledge
that his son, living and labouring far away from him amid difficulties and
opposition, is courageously sacrificing his own preferences, and faithfully
seeking to carry out his, the father’s, will. In such a son that father sees a
reproduction of all that is strongest and best in his own nature. And so it is
with the Heavenly Father. No greater joy can be His than to see the resolute
surrender of His children’s own will to His, and the daily denial of their
hopes and plans for themselves and theirs in favour of His plans.

III.
There are Denials of the Affections.
The precious things of earth– The mother’s tender care, The father’s faith
and prayer– From Thee have birth.
And, just because love is of such high origin, and is the greatest power in
human life, it is often captured and held by the Devil as his last stronghold

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against God. The heart is at once the strongest and the most sensitive part
of our nature; and it is here, therefore, that we often find the most blessed
and profitable opportunities for self-denial.

That pleasant companionship, so grateful, so fruitful of joy, and yet so
likely to tempt me from the path of faithful service, “Lord, I deny myself of
it.” That mastering affection for wife, or husband, or children–so beautiful
in its strength and simplicity, and yet so exacting in its claims–“Lord, I
deny myself of the abandonment to which it invites me; I put it in its proper
place, second to Thee, and to the work Thou hast given me to do.” That
love of home, and friends, and circle, which is so powerful a factor in life,
and enters so constantly into all the arrangements and details of our
conduct, influencing so largely all real plans for doing God’s work–“Lord, I
will deny it, when it is in danger of lessening my labours for Thee and Thy
Kingdom.” The pleasant hour, the quiet evening, the restful book, “I will
lay them at Thy feet, for Thy sake, when they hinder me doing Thy will. It
is between me and Thee alone; it is the sacrifice of love.”

How precious it must be to God to see such self-denial! When the true
lover sees the woman he has chosen leaving all for his sake, calmly laying
down the love of father and family, and even braving the rebuffs and
unkindness of those from whom before she has known nothing but
affection, in order that she may give him her whole heart and life, how
strong become the cords which bind him to her! Every sacrifice she makes
for his sake forges another bond which will not easily be broken. And is the
Lord a man, that He should be behind us in loving with an everlasting love
those who thus give up and deny their own loves for Him? No! a thousand
times no! He will repay. Every self-denial is a seedling rich with future
joys. For it is indeed true that “He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the
Spirit reap life everlasting. He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I
will give him the morning star.”

IV.
There are Denials with reference to our Gifts.

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“Look not,” says the Apostle, “every man on his own things, but every man
also on the things of others.” That is, even in the exercise of his choicest
gifts and graces, let a man forget his own in his desire to employ and bring
forward the gifts of others. “Let nothing be done through strife or
vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than
themselves.” That is, in your own mind take a humble view of yourself,
your own powers, and your own worthiness, and hold your comrades in
higher esteem than you hold yourself, in honour preferring one another to
yourself. _That would be a very real self-denial to some people!_

“Recompense to no man evil for evil,” though you know he well deserves
it; “Avenge not yourselves.” “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst,
give him drink.” “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them
that weep.” That is, deny yourself of your own joys, that you may enter into
the sorrow of others; and lay aside your own sorrows and tears, and silence
your own breaking heart, when you can help others by entering with joy
into their joys.

You will see, beloved, that all this is work which no one can do for you,
and that it is in a very true sense high service to God as well as to man.

How, then, is it with you?

Are you a self-denying disciple? If not, beware, lest it should shortly appear
that you are not a disciple at all.

XIII.
In Unexpected Places.
“_And . . . while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself
drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should
not know Him_.”–Luke xxiv. 15, 16.

I.

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_The Knife-grinder_.

The only person in the house, except the man and his wife, was a young
domestic servant, a Soldier of The Salvation Army. Her employers were
generally drinking when they were not asleep, and the drinking led to the
most dreadful quarrelling. Disgusting orgies of one kind or another were of
almost daily occurrence, and such, visitors as came to the house only added
fuel to the fiery furnace of passion and frenzy through which the girl was
called to walk.

Since that happy Sunday afternoon two years ago, when she gave herself to
God in the wholesome village from which she came, the meetings and the
opportunity, given her by The Army, of doing some work for other souls
had been a bright light in her life. Little by little religion had come to have
for her something of the same meaning it had for St. Paul: though I fear she
knew very little of St. Paul, or of the great and wise things he
wrote–domestic service is seldom favourable to the study of the Scriptures.
But the same spirit which led the great Apostle to confer not with flesh and
blood, and which took him into Arabia before he went to Jerusalem, was
leading this quiet, country maiden to see that to be a follower of Christ
means something more than to win a fleeting happiness in this life and a
kind of pension in the next. She was beginning to understand that to be
really Christ’s means also to be a Christ; that to be His, one must seek for
the lost sheep for whom He died. And so Rhoda–I call her Rhoda, though
that was not her name–when she found to what sort of people she had, in
her ignorance of the great city, engaged herself, had set to work to seek
their salvation.

Many very good people would probably think that she would have been a
wiser girl to have gone elsewhere–that the risks of such a position were
very great, and so on. No doubt; but the light of a great truth was rising in
Rhoda’s heart and mind. She perceived in her very danger an opportunity to
prove her love for her Saviour by risking something for the souls of those
two besotted creatures, for whom she dared to think He really died.

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And so, day after day, she toiled for them: night after night she prayed for
them. And in her sober moments the wreck of a woman, her mistress, wept
aloud in her slobbering way, and talked of the days long, long ago, when
she, too, believed in the things that are good.

The first flush of novelty in the sense of doing an unselfish thing for God
wore away, and presently Rhoda’s real trial began. The drinking and
fighting grew worse, and the difficulty of getting out to a meeting grew
greater. Gradually the weary body robbed the struggling soul of its time to
pray; and, worst of all, by slow degrees Rhoda’s faith was shaken, for her
prayers, her agonising prayers, on behalf of those dark souls were only too
manifestly not answered. Was it worth while, after all, troubling about
sinners? Was it her affair? Why should she care? Of what use could it be to
become an Officer, in order to seek the many, if God did not hearken to her
cry for the few?

One day the Captain of the Corps to which Rhoda belonged called, and
seemed grieved with her for neglecting the meetings. This was a heavy
blow. She could not or would not explain, and when that night, in the midst
of a drunken brawl, her master struck her in the face, heart and flesh both
failed, and she determined to say no more about salvation, and to abandon
all profession of religion.

That night seemed long and dark, and when at last sleep came, the pillow
was wet with tears of anguish, of anger, and of pride.

“Scissors to mend! to mend! to mend!” The monotonous calls of London
hawkers are a strange mixture of sounds–at one moment attractive, at
another repelling; they are, perhaps, more like the cry of a bird in distress
than anything else.

Rhoda looked at her wood-chopper as the knife-grinder came nearer to the
house, and as he passed beckoned him, and gave it to him. She made no
remark. He was rough and grimy, and his torn coat gave him an appearance
of misery, which his face rather belied. She was miserable enough, and
made no reply to his cheery “Good morning!”

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Presently the axe was sharpened, and the man brought it to the door. She
paid him.

“Thank you,” he said. And then, with kindly abruptness–“Excuse me, but I
see you have been crying. Do you ever pray?” And, after a silence, “God
answers prayer, though He may not do it our way. _He did it for me._ I was
a drunkard, but my mother’s prayers are answered now, and I belong to The
Salvation Army. Do you know any of them? Oh, they just live by prayer!”

Rhoda stood in silence listening to the strange man till she ceased to hear
him, and looking at him till she ceased to see him! Another Presence and
another Voice was there.

It was the Christ.

Rhoda was delivered. She is still fighting for souls, and loves most to do it
where Satan’s seat is. But the knife-grinder never knew.

II.
A Kiss.

The heat and smell in the narrow slum were worse than usual. A hot
Saturday night in midsummer is a bad time in the slums, and worse in the
slum public-houses. It was so on the night I speak of. In and out of the
suffocating bar the dirty stream of humanity came and went. Men who had
ceased long ago to be anything but beasts; women with tiny, white children
in their bony arms; boys and girls sipping the naphtha of perdition, and
talking the talk of fools; lewd and foul-mouthed women of the streets, all
hustled and jostled one another, and sang, and swore, and bandied horrid
words with the barmen–and, all the while, they drank, and drank, and
drank! The atmosphere grew thicker and thicker with the dust and
tobacco-smoke, and little by little the flaming gas-jets burnt up the oxygen,
till by midnight the place was all but unendurable.

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Among the last to go was a woman of the town, who betook herself, with a
bottle of whisky, to a low lodging-house hard by. There she drank and
quarrelled with such vehemence that in the early hours of the morning the
“Deputy”–as the guardian of order is called in these houses–picked her up
and threw her into the gutter outside. There, amid the garbage from the
coster-mongers’ barrows and the refuse of the town, this remnant of a
ruined woman lay in a half-drunken doze, until the golden sunlight
mounted over the city houses and pierced the sultry gloom on the Sabbath
morning.

Another woman chanced that way. Young, beautiful alike in form and
spirit, and touched with the far-offness of many who walk with Christ, she
hastened to the early Sunday morning service, there to join her prayers with
others seeking strength to win the souls of men.

“What is that?” she asked her friend as they passed.

“That,” replied the other, “is a drunken woman, unclean and outcast.”

In a moment the Salvationist knelt upon the stones, and kissed the battered
face of the poor wanderer.

“Who is that–what did you do?” said the Magdalene. “Why did you kiss
me? Nobody ever kissed me since my mother died.”

It was the Christ.

That kiss won a heart to Him.

III.
A Promotion.

Henry James was coming rapidly into his employer’s favour. Thoughtful,
obliging, attentive to details, anxious to please, and, above all, thoroughly
reliable in word and deed, he was a first-class servant and an exemplary

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Salvationist. In the Corps to which he belonged he stood high in the esteem
both of the Local Officers and the Soldiers, and there was no more
welcome speaker in the Open-air or more successful “fisher” in the sinners’
meetings than “Young James.”

The question of his own future was beginning to occupy a good deal of
attention. Ought he to offer himself for Officership in The Army? He was
very far from decided either one way or the other, when one evening at the
close of business his master sent for him. He expressed his pleasure at the
progress James was making, and offered him a greatly improved
position–the managership of a branch establishment, with certain privileges
as to hours, an immediate and considerable advance in salary, and the
prospect of a still more profitable position in the future. There was really
only one condition required of him–he must live in premises adjoining the
new venture, and he must not come to and fro in the uniform of The Army.
His employers had a high esteem for The Salvation Army. It was a noble
work, and their opinion of it had risen since they had employed one or two
of its Soldiers. But business was business, and the uniform going in and out
would not help business, and so forbh.

The young man hesitated, and, to the senior partner’s surprise, asked for a
week to consider.

During the week there were consultations with almost every one he knew.
The majority of his own friends said decidedly “Accept.” A few
Salvationists of the weaker sort said, “Yes, take it; you will, in the end, be
able to do more for God, and give The Army more time, more money, more
influence.” On the other hand, the Captain and the older Local Officers
answered, “No; it is a compromise of principle; the uniform is only the
symbol of out-and-out testimony for Christ; you put it on in holy covenant
with Him; you cannot take it off, especially for your own advantage,
without breaking that covenant. Don’t!”

James promised himself–quite sincerely, no doubt–that it should not be so
with him. And on the appointed day informed the firm that he accepted
their proposal.

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The new enterprise was a success. Everything turned out better than was
expected. At the end of six months the new manager received a cordial
letter of thanks from the firm, and a hint of further developments.

But Henry James was an unhappy man. He had gained so much that he was
always asking himself how it came about that he seemed to have lost so
much more! Position, prospects, opportunity, money–these were all
enhanced. And yet he went everywhere with a sense of loss, burdened with
a consciousness of having parted with more than he had received in return.
As a man of business, the impression at last took the form of a business
estimate in his mind. Yes, that was it; he had secured a high–a very
high–price that evening in the counting-house, when the partners waited
for his answer; he had parted with something; he had, in fact, sold
something.

It was the Christ.

It proved a ruinous transaction.

XIV.
Ever the Same.

A New Year’s Greeting.

_”Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are
His: and He changeth the times and the seasons.”_–Daniel ii. 20, 21.

_”I am the Lord, I change not.”_–Malachi iii. 6.

“He changeth the times and the seasons.” What a beautiful thought it is!
Instead of the hard compulsion of some inexorable and unchanging law
fixing summer where it must, and planting winter in our midst whether it be
well or ill, here is the sweet assurance that the seasons change at His
command; and that the winds and the waves obey Him. It is not some
abstract and unknowable force, taking no account of us and ours, with

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whom we have to do, but a living and ruling Father: He who maketh small
the drops of water that pour down rain; He who shuts up the sea with doors,
and says: “Here shall thy proud waves be stayed”; He who maketh the
south winds to blow, and by whose breath the frost is given; He who
teaches the swallow to know the time of her coming, and has made both
summer and winter, and the day and the night His servants–He is our
Father. How precious it is to feel that our times are in His hands; and to
know that, whether the year be young or old, He will fill it with mercy and
crown it with loving-kindness!

Do not be deceived by the modern talk about the laws of Nature into
forgetting that they are the laws ordained by your Father for the fulfilment
of His will. Every day that dawns is as truly God’s day as was the first one.
Every night that draws its sable mantle over a silent world sets a seal to the
knowledge of God who maketh the darkness. Behind the mighty forces and
the ceaseless activities around us stands the Sovereign of them all. The
hand of Him who never slumbers is on the levers. The earth is the Lord’s,
and His chosen portion is His people; and when “He changes the times and
the seasons,” He fits the one to the other.

It is with some such thoughts as these that I send out a brief New Year’s
Greeting to my friends. I wish them a Happy New Year, because I feel that
God has sent it, that He wills it to be a happy year–a good year: that in all
the changes it may bring, He will be planning with highest benevolence for
their truest welfare. Whether, therefore, it holds for them sorrow or joy, it
will be a year of mercy, a year of grace, a year of love. “Blessed be God for
ever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. He revealeth the deep and
secret things. He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth
with Him.”

Let us, then, go forward, and fear not.

I.
_Material Changes._

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All things that touch the life of man are marked for change. As knowledge
advances, and men come nearer to the secrets of the world in which they
live, they find how true indeed it is, that man is but “a shadow dwelling in a
world of shadows.” Everything is changing–everything but God. The sun,
the astronomers tell us, is burning itself away. “The mountains,” say the
geologists, “are not so high as they once were; their lofty summits are
sliding down their sides year by year. The everlasting hills are only
everlasting in a figure; for they, too, are crumbling day by day. The hardest
rocks are softening into soil every season, and we are actually eating them
up in our daily bread.”

The hills are shadows, and they flow From form to form, and nothing
stands; They melt like mists, the solid lands, Like clouds they shape
themselves and go.

The great ocean-currents are changing, and vast regions of the earth’s
surface are being changed with them, and Time is writing wrinkles on the
whole world and all that is therein.

But, above it all, I see One standing–my Unchanging God. “Thou, Lord, in
the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the
works of Thine hands; they shall perish, but Thou remainest; and they all
shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up,
and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not
fail.”

What a contrast there is between the Worker and His work, between the
Creator and the creature! We see it in a thousand things; but in none is it so
manifest for the wayfaring man, or written so large upon the fading
draperies of time, as in this: “_They shall perish, but Thou remainest_.”

And greater changes yet seem to lie ahead. A universal instinct points to the
time of the restitution of all things. “The whole creation groaneth and
travaileth in pain together, waiting”–and it has been a long, weary
waiting–“for deliverance.” But the day of the Lord will come. “As the
lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall

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the coming of the Son of Man be.” In his vision John saw, as it were, a
picture of that final change. “Lo,” he says, “there was a great earthquake,
and the sun became black as sack-cloth of hair”–it looks as though the wise
men who say it will burn itself out are right!–“and the moon became as
blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth
her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven
departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and
island were moved out of their places.” What a combination of astounding
catastrophes is here! Earth and stars are to meet in awful shock! Sun and
moon to fail! Cloud and sky to disappear; the elements to melt with fervent
heat–a world on fire!

But, above it all, the Lamb that was slain will take His place upon the
Throne–unmoved, unchanged, amidst the tumult of dissolving worlds. My
God, my Saviour, in Thy unchanging love I put my trust:-

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.

II.
Changes of Association.

But far-reaching as are the changes in our material surroundings, those with
which we have to battle in our personal associations are often as great, and
are often much more painful. Indeed, man himself is the most changeable
thing in all man’s world.

It is not merely that our companions and friends and loved ones die–the
wind passeth over them, and they are gone, and the dear places that knew
them know them no more–it is not merely this; nor is it that their
circumstances change, that wealth becomes penury, that health is changed
to weakness and suffering, and youth to age and decay–it is not merely
this, but it is that they change. The ardour of near friendship grows cold and
fades away; the trust which once knew no limitations is narrowed down,
and, by and by, walled in with doubts and fears; the comradeship which

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was so sweet and strong, and quickened us to great deeds, as “iron
sharpeneth iron,” is changed for other companionships; the love which
seemed so deep and true, and was ready “to look on tempests” for us,
becomes but a name and a memory, even if it does not change into a well of
bitter waters in our lives.

This fact of human mutability, this inherent changeableness in man, is the
key to many of the darkest chapters of the world’s history. The prodigal, the
traitor, the vow-breaker, these have ever been far more fruitful sources of
anguish and misery than the life-long rebel and law-breaker.

The Psalmist touches the inner springs of sorrow when he says, “All that
hate Me whisper together against Me; yea, Mine own familiar friend, in
whom I trusted, which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up his heel against
Me.”

No one who has once read it can forget that revelation of the pent-up shame
and agony in David’s heart, which was voiced in his cry, “O my son
Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O
Absalom, my son, my son!”

The human heart probably fell to its lowest depth of ingratitude and sin
when poor Judas changed sides and sold his Lord. What a change it was!
Alas, alas, what a quagmire of uncertainties and shifting sand unsanctified
human nature must be! Nay, is.

I suppose that few of us have escaped some sorrowful experiences of this
kind. Even to those who have not tasted the fruits of human fickleness in
the great affairs of Christ’s Kingdom, there has generally come some share
of it into the more private relationships of life. In the home, in the family,
or in the circle of friendship or comradeship, we have had to lament the
failure of many tender hopes. But, blessed be the name of our God, who
knoweth what is in the darkness, amidst the changing scenes we have found
one Comfort. Above the strife of tongues, and over the stormy seas of
sorrow, when, as Job said, even our kinsfolk have failed, and our familiar
friends have forgotten us, there is borne to us the voice of One who sticketh

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closer than a brother, saying, “I am the Lord; I change not. With Me there is
no variableness, neither the shadow of turning. I will never leave thee nor
forsake thee.” The more men change, the surer God will be; the more they
forget, the more He will remember; the further they withdraw, the nearer
He will come.

III.
Personal Changes.

And we, ourselves, change also. As the years fly past, the most notable fact
about us, perhaps, is the changes that are going on in our own experiences,
our habits, our thoughts, our hopes, our conduct, our character. How much
there was about us, only a few years ago, which has changed in the
interval–nay, how much has grown different even since last New Year’s
Day! Indeed, might we not say of a great deal in us, which to-day is, that
to-morrow it will be cast away for ever?

Have you, my friend, not had to mourn over some strange changes?

Has not your joy been often so quickly turned to sorrow that you have
wondered how you yourself could be the same person? Has not some
trifling circumstance often seemed to cloud your sky for days, darkening all
the great lights in your heaven, so that your whole past, and present, and
future have seemed different to you, and you stood in the stupor of
astonishment at the gloomy change? Has not your zeal for souls been
subject to like strange and unaccountable changes, so that the work you
once thought impossible you have found easy; or the work you once
delighted in, you now find hard, difficult, and barren? Has not your
freedom in prayer, and your desire for it, wavered between this and that
until you have not known what to think of yourself?

Has not your perception of duty, and your devotion to it, at one time clear
and strong, become at another so dim and feeble, that you have been utterly
ashamed of your wobbling and cowardice, and amazed at your failure?
And, most sorrowful of all, has not your love for your God and Saviour

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been up and down–shamefully down–so that when you have afterwards
reflected on your coldness towards Him and His cause, you have been
covered with confusion and astonishment at the fickleness of your own
heart?

And more than this. How great are the changes wrought in us by the
curbing influence of time! How much that in youth and early manhood we
meant to do, and could do, and did do, has to be laid down, or left to others,
as our years approach the limits of their pilgrimage! I have known some
men who, for this reason alone, did not desire to live beyond the years of
strength and vigour–they preferred “to cease at once to work and live.”

The loss by death, or disappointments worse than death, of our friends and
dear ones–what changes this also works! Unconsciously men narrow the
sphere of their sympathies. The mainspring of life–love–grows slowly
rusty for want of use, and from some hearts that were once true fountains of
joy to those around them, the living water almost ceases to flow. Criticism,
and fault-finding, and censoriousness too often take the place of generous
labour for the welfare of the world. This may, no doubt, arise in part from
the natural desire that others should profit by our past experiences, which
renders us the more observant of their conduct the more we love. But, no
matter what the cause, certain it is that within and without all seems to
change.

Is it not, then, a joy unspeakable that, amidst all this, whether we are or are
not fully alive to the weakness, and variableness, and deceitfulness of our
own hearts, we can look up to the ROCK that changeth NOT? In the
darkest hour of disappointment with ourselves; in the depths of that
miserable aftermath of sorrow and failure which follows all pride and
foolish self-assertion; in the miry pit of condemnation and guilt in which
sin always leaves the sinner, we can look up to Him whose power, whose
grace, whose love is ever the same.

Do you really believe it? There is a great hope in it for you if you do. High
above all your changes, high above all the storms and disappointments that
belong to them; high above all the wretched failure and doubting of the

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“do-the-best-I-can” life you are living, He lives to bless, to save, to uplift,
to keep. Unnumbered multitudes, fighting their way to Him in spite of the
timidities and wobblings, the “couldn’ts” and “wouldn’ts” of their own
nature, have proved Him the Faithful and Unchanging God. Will not you?

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The Power of the Blood of Christ by R. A. Torrey

The Power of the Blood of Christ by R. A. Torrey
(from How To Obtain Fullness Of Power by R.A. Torrey, ©1897, Fleming H. Revell Company)

“POWER BELONGETH unto God.” It is therefore at man’s disposal. But there is one thing that separates between man and God, that is, sin. We read in Isaiah, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isa.59:1,2). Before we can know God’s power in our lives and service,, sin must be put away from God and us. It is the blood that puts away sin (Heb. 9:26). We must know the power of the blood if we are to know the power of God. Our knowing experimentally the power of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer, is dependent upon our knowing the power of the blood of Christ. Let us see what the blood of Christ has power to do:

1. First of all, the blood of Christ is a propitiation for sin. In Romans 3:25, R.V., we read,

Whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in His blood, to show His righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God.”

In the earlier verses of this chapter Paul has proven all men to be sinners, “every mouth is stopped,” all the world is seen to be “guilty before God.” But God is holy, a God who hates sin. God’s hatred of sin is no play hatred. It is real, it is living, it is active. It must make itself manifest somehow. God’s wrath at sin must strike somewhere. What hope then is there for any of us; for we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”? In verse 25, God gives us His own answer to this tremendously important question. Their is hope for us because God Himself has provided a propitiation, the shed blood of Christ. God has ‘set forth Christ to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood.’ The wrath of God at sin strikes on Him instead of striking on us. Of this great truth the Prophet Isaiah got a glimpse several hundred years before the birth of Christ. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid [literally, made to strike] on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).

The first power of Christ’s blood is the propitiation for sin, affording a mark for and satisfying God’s holy wrath at sin. He is “our passover” (I Cor. 5:7) and when God sees His blood, He will pass over and spare us, sinners though we are. (Compare Exod. 12:13, 23.)

This propitiation is cheifly for the believer, “a propitiation, through faith.” All of God’s wrath at the believer’s sins is fully appeased of satisfied in the blood of Christ. What a wonderfully comforting thought it is, when we think how often and how greatly we have sinned, and then think how infinitely holy God is, how He hates sin, to think that God’s wrath has already been fully appeased in the shed blood of His own Son, the propitiation which He Himself provided!

The blood of Christ in a certain measure avails for all, for unbelievers as well as for believers, for the vilest sinner and the most stubborn unbeliever and blasphemer. In I John 2:2, R.V., we read, “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” By the shed blood of Christ a basis is provided upon which God can deal in mercy with the whole world. All of God’s dealings in mercy with man are on the ground of the shed blood of Christ. God’s dealings with those who ridicule the doctrine of the Atonement, God’s dealings with Voltaire, Tom Paine and Colonel Ingersoll, are all on the ground of that shed blood. All of God’s dealings in mercy with any man since the fall of Adam are on the ground of that shed blood. if it had not been for the shed blood, God could never have dealt in mercy with a sinner, but must have at once cut him off in his sin.

If anyone asks, How then could God have dealt in mercy with sinners before Christ came and died?- the answer is simple. Jesus is the Lamb that hath been “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). From the moment sin entered into the world, God had His eyes upon that sacrifice which He Himself had prepared from the foundation of the world. And in the very Garden of Eden the blood of sacrifices that pointed forward as types to the true sacrifice began to flow. It is the power of the blood which has secured to men all the merciful things God has wrought for them since sin entered. the most determined rejector of Christ owes all he has that is good to the blood of Christ.

2. Again in Ephesians 1:7, R.V., we read,

“…We have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness or our trespasses….”

Through the blood of Christ we have our redemption, the forgiveness of sins. forgiveness of sin is not something the believer in Christ is to look forward to in the future; it is something he already has. “We have,” says Paul, “the forgiveness of our trespasses.” The forgiveness of sin is not something we are to do something to secure. It is something which the blood of Christ has already secured, and which our faith simply appropriates and enjoys. Forgiveness has already been secured for every believer in Christ by the power of the blood.

You have heard of the old woman who lay dying. her rector heard of it and called upon her. “They tell me,” he said, “that you are dying.”

“Yes,” she replied.

“And have you made your peace with God?”

“No,” came the answer.

“And are you not afraid to meet God without making your peace with Him?”

“Not at all,” was the answer and startled the minister.

The minister grew earnest. “Woman, do you realize that you have but a short time to live and that you must soon meet a holy God?”

“Yes, I realize it perfectly.”

“And you are not afraid?”

“Not at all.”

“And you have not made your peace with God?”

“No.”

“What do you mean?” cried the astonished rector.

A smile passed over the features of the dying woman. “I have not made my peace with God because I do not need to. Christ made peace more than eighteen hundred years ago by the blood of His cross (Col.1:20), and I am simply resting in the peace he made.”

Oh, blessed is the one who has learned to rest in the peace Christ made, who counts his sins forgiven because Christ’s blood was shed and God says so! “…We have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7, R.V.).

3. There is a third passage very akin to this, that brings out the power of Christ’s blood. it is I John 1:7,

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

This brings out the completeness of the forgiveness we get through the blood. The blood of Christ has power to cleanse the believer from all sin. It continually “cleanseth,” is cleansing, keeping him clean every day and hour, and every minute. The cleansing here is from the guilt of sin. When cleansing is mentioned in the Bible in connection with the blood, it is always cleansing from guilt. Cleansing from the power of sin and the presence of sin is by the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the living and indwelling Christ, not the crucified Christ. Christ on the cross saves from the guilt of sin; Christ on the throne saves from the power of sin; and Christ coming again will save from the presence of sin. But the blood of Christ cleanses from all the guilt of sin, when one is walking in the light, submitting to the light, and walking in Christ who is the light. The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. His past may be as bad as a past can be. There may have been countless enormous sins, but they are all, every one, the greatest and the smallest, washed away. His record is absolutely white in God’s sight. As white as the record of Jesus Christ Himself. His sins which were as scarlet are as white as snow, though they were red like crimson, they are as wool (Isa. 1:18).

The blood of Christ has power to wash the blackest record white. Some of us may have had a black past. We all have had; for if we could see our past as God sees it before it is washed, the record of the best of us would be black, black, black. But if we are walking in the light, submitting to the truth of God, believing in the light, in Christ, our record today is white as Christ’s garments were when the disciples saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2, Mark 9:3, Luke 9:29). No one can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect (Rom. 8:33): there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

4. Again in Romans 5:9, we read,

“Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

The blood of Christ has power to justify. Every believer in Christ is already justified in Christ’s blood. Justified means more than forgiven and cleansed. Forgiveness, as glorious as it is, is a negative thing. It means merely that our sins are put away and we are regarded as if we had not sinned. But justification is positive. It means that we are reckoned positively righteous; that positive and perfect righteousness, even the perfect righteousness of Christ, is put to our account.

It is a good thing to be stripped of vile and filthy rags, but it is far better to be clothed with garments of glory and beauty. In forgiveness we are stripped of the vile and stinking rags of our sins; in justification we are clothed upon with the glory and beauty of Christ. It is the power of the blood which secures this. In shedding His blood as a penalty for sin, Christ took our place, and when we believed in Him, we step into His place. “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21, R.V.).

5. Let us now look at Hebrews 9:14, R.V.,

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscious from dead works to serve the living God?”

The blood of Christ has power to cleanse the conscious from dead works to serve the living God. Do you understand what that means? It is a glorious truth and I will try to make it plain. When a man is wakened up to the fact that he is a sinner and that God is holy, he feels that he must do something to please God and atone for sin. He must “do penances,” “keep Lent,” or give away money, or do something else, to atone for his sins. Now all these self efforts to please God and atone for sins are “dead works.” they can never accomplish what they aim at, and can never bring peace.

How many weary years Martin Luther sought peace in this way and found it not. But when we see the power of the blood, how it has already perfectly atoned for sin, how it has already washed away our sins and justified us before God, how we are already pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight by reason of that shed blood, then our consciences are not only relieved from the burden of guilt, but also from the burden of these self-efforts, and we are now at liberty to serve the living God, not in the slavery of fear, but in the liberty of the freedom and joy of those who know they are accepted and beloved sons. It is the blood that delivers us from the awful bondage of thinking we must do something to atone for sins and please God. The blood shows us that it is already done.

A friend of mine once said to another who was seeking peace by doing, “You have a religion of two letters. My religion is a religion of four letters.”

“How is that?” asked the other.

“Your religion is do. My religion is done. You are trying to rest in what you do. I am resting in what Christ has done.”

There are many Christians today who have not permitted the blood of Christ to cleanse their consciences from dead works. They are constantly feeling they must do something to atone for sin. Oh, my brother, my sister, look at what God looks at, the blood, and see that it is all done, already done! God is satisfied, sin is atoned for, you are justified. Now don’t do dead works to commend yourself to God; but, realizing that you are already commended by the blood, serve Him in the freedom of gratitude and love, and not in the bondage of fear.

There are three classes of men. First, those who are not burdened by sin, but love it. That is wholly bad. Second, those who are burdened by sin and seek to get rid of it by self-effort. That is better, but there is something infinitely better yet. Third, those who see the hideousness of sin, and were burdened for it, but who have been brought to see the power of the blood, settling sin forever, putting it away (Heb. 9:26), and so are no longer burdened, but now work not to commend themselves to God, but out of joyous gratitude to Him who perfectly justifieth the ungodly through the shed blood.

6. In Acts 20:28, we read,

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”

And in revelation 5:9, R.V.,

“And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with Thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

The blood of Christ has power to purchase us unto God, to make us God’s own. The blood of Christ makes me God’s own property. That thought brings to me a feeling of responsibility. If I belong to God, I must serve Him wholly; body, soul, and spirit, must be surrendered wholly to Him. But the thought that I am God’s property brings also a feeling of security. God can and will take care of His own property. The blood of Christ has power to make me eternally secure.

7. We learn still more about the power of the blood in Hebrews 10:19, 20, R.V.,

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which He dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, the flesh.”

The blood of Christ has power to give the believer boldness to enter into the holy place, to approach into the very presence of God. In the old Jewish days of the tabernacle and temple God manifested Himself in the most holy place. This was the place to meet God. But into this holy place only one Jew in all the nation was allowed to enter, the high priest; and he only once a year, on the day of atonement; and then only with blood. God was teaching the Jews, and through them the world, three great truths– God’s unapproachable holiness, man’s sinfulness, and that sinful man could approach a holy God only through atoning blood, that “without shedding of blood” there could be “no remission,” and consequently no approach to God (Heb. 9:22). But the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices was only a figure of the true sacrifice, Jesus Christ; and, by reason of His shed blood, the vilest sinner who believes on Him has the right to approach God– come into His very presence, when he will, without fear, “in full assurance of faith,” “with boldness.”

Oh, the wondrous power of the blood of Christ to take all fear away when I draw near to that God who is holy and is a “consuming fire”! God is holy? Yes. And I am a sinner? Yes– but by that wondrous offering of Christ “once and for all” my sin is forever put away, I am “perfected” and “justified,” and, on the ground of that blood so precious and satisfying to God, I can march boldly into the very presence of God.

But the blood of Christ has still further power. Read Revelation 22:14, R.V.,

“Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.”

By comparing this verse with chapter 7 and verse 14, we see that it is in the blood of Christ that robes are washed. The blood of Christ then has power to give those who believe in Him a right to the tree of life and entrance into the city of God. Sin in the first place shut men away from the tree of life and out of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). The shed blood of Christ opens to us again the way to the tree of life and to the New Jerusalem. The blood of Christ regains for us all that Adam lost by sin, and brings us much more than we lost.

We see something of the power of the blood of Christ. Have you appreciated that blood? Have you let it have power in your life that it ought to have? There are some today who are trying to devise a theology that leaves out the blood of Christ. Poor fools! Christianity without atoning blood is a Christianity without mercy for the sinner, without settled peace for the conscience, without genuine forgiveness, without justification, without cleansing, without boldness in approaching God, without power. It is not Christianity, but the devil’s own counterfeit. If we would know fullness and power in Christian life and service, we must first of all know the power of the blood of Christ, for it is that which brings us pardon, justification, and boldness in our approach to God. We cannot know the power of the Spirit unless we first know the power of the blood. We certainly cannot know the power of prayer unless we know the power of that blood by which alone we can approach unto God.

There are some teachers of “the higher life” who ignore the fundamental truth about the blood. They are trying to build a lofty superstructure without a firm foundation. It is bound to tumble. We must begin with the blood, if we are to go on to the “holy of holies.” The brazen altar where blood was shed first met every priest who would enter into the holy place. There is no other way of entrance there. If we do not learn the lesson of this chapter, it is vain for us to try to learn the lessons of chapters 3 and 4. To everyone who wishes to know the power of the Spirit we first put the question, “Do you know the power of the blood?”

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THE WAY TO GOD By D. L. MOODY

Way to God and How to Find It, by Dwight Moody

THE WAY TO GOD
AND HOW TO FIND IT
By D. L. MOODY
Fleming H. Revell Company
Chicago New York Toronto

Publishers of Evangelical Literature

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1884,
By F. H. REVELL,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

TO THE READER

In this small volume I have endeavored to point out the Way to God.

I have embodied in the little book a considerable part of several addresses
which have been delivered in different cities, both of Great Britain and my
own country. God has graciously owned them when spoken from the pulpit,
and I trust will none the less add his blessing now they have been put into
the printed page with additional matter.

Way to God and How to Find It, by Dwight Moody

I have called attention first to the Love of God, the source of all Gifts of
Grace; have then endeavored to present truths to meet the special needs of
representative classes, answering the question, “How man can be just with
God,” hoping thereby to lead souls to Him who is “the Way, the Truth and
the Life.”

The last chapter is specially addressed to Backsliders–a class, alas, far too
numerous amongst us.

With the earnest prayer and hope that by the blessing of God on these pages
the reader may be strengthened, established and settled in the faith of
Christ,

I am, yours in His service,

D. L. Moody
CONTENTS.

Chapter I.

Chapter I.

“Love that passeth Knowledge”

Chapter II.

Chapter II.

The Gateway into the Kingdom

Chapter III.

Chapter III.

The Two Classes

Chapter IV.

Chapter IV.

Words of Counsel

Chapter V.

Chapter V.

A Divine Saviour

Chapter VI.

Chapter VI.

Repentance and Restitution

Chapter VII.

Chapter VII.

Assurance of Salvation

Chapter VIII.

Chapter VIII.

Christ All and in All

Chapter IX.

Chapter IX.

Backsliding

THE WAY TO GOD.

CHAPTER I.

CHAPTER I.

“LOVE THAT PASSETH KNOWLEDGE.”

“To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.”

(Ephesians iii. 19.)

If I could only make men understand the real meaning of the words of the
apostle John–“God is love,” I would take that single text, and would go up
and down the world proclaiming this glorious truth. If you can convince a
man that you love him you have won his heart. If we really make people
believe that God loves them, how we should find them crowding into the
kingdom of heaven! The trouble is that men think God hates them; and so
they are all the time running away from Him.

We built a church in Chicago some years ago; and were very anxious to
teach the people the love of God. We thought if we could not preach it into
their hearts we would try and burn it in; so we put right over the pulpit in
gas-jets these words–God is Love. A man going along the streets one night
glanced through the door, and saw the text. He was a poor prodigal. As he
passed on he thought to himself, “God is Love! No! He does not love me;
for I am a poor miserable sinner.” He tried to get rid of the text; but it
seemed to stand out right before him in letters of fire. He went on a little
further; then turned round, went back, and went into the meeting. He did
not hear the sermon; but the words of that short text had got deeply lodged
in his heart, and that was enough. It is of little account what men say if the
Word of God only gets an entrance into the sinner’s heart. He staid after the
first meeting was over; and I found him there weeping like a child. As I
unfolded the Scriptures and told him how God had loved him all the time,
although he had wandered so far away, and how God was waiting to
receive him and forgive him, the light of the Gospel broke into his mind,
and he went away rejoicing.

There is nothing in this world that men prize so much us they do Love.
Show me a person who has no one to care for or love him, and I will show

CHAPTER I.

you one of the most wretched beings on the face of the earth. Why do
people commit suicide? Very often it is because this thought steals in upon
them–that no one loves them; and they would rather die than live.

I know of no truth in the whole Bible that ought to come home to us with
such power and tenderness as that of the Love of God; and there is no truth
in the Bible that Satan would so much like to blot out. For more than six
thousand years he has been trying to persuade men that God does not love
them. He succeeded in making our first parents believe this lie; and he too
often succeeds with their children.

The idea that God does not love us often comes from false teaching.
Mothers make a mistake in teaching children that God does not love them
when they do wrong; but only when they do right. That is not taught in
Scripture. You do not teach your children that when they do wrong you
hate them. Their wrong-doing does not change your love to hate; if it did,
you would change your love a great many times. Because your child is
fretful, or has committed some act of disobedience, you do not cast him out
as though he did not belong to you! No! he is still your child; and you love
him. And if men have gone astray from God it does not follow that He
hates them. It is the sin that He hates.

I believe the reason why a great many people think God does not love them
is because they are measuring God by their own small rule, from their own
standpoint. We love men as long as we consider them worthy of our love;
when they are not we cast them off. It is not so with God. There is a vast
difference between human love and Divine love.

In Ephesians iii. 18, we are told of the breadth, and length, and depth, and
height, of God’s love. Many of us think we know something of God’s love;
but centuries hence we shall admit we have never found out much about it.
Columbus discovered America; but what did he know about its great lakes,
rivers, forests, and the Mississippi Valley? He died, without knowing much
about what he had discovered. So, many of us have discovered something
of the love of God; but there are heights, depths and lengths of it we do not
know. That Love is a great ocean; and we require to plunge into it before

CHAPTER I.

we really know anything of it. It is said of a Roman Catholic Archbishop of
Paris, that when he was thrown into prison and condemned to be shot, a
little while before he was led out to die, he saw a window in his cell in the
shape of a cross. Upon the top of the cross he wrote “height,” at the bottom
“depth,” and at the end of each arm “length.” He had experienced the truth
conveyed in the hymn-

“When I survey the wondrous Cross, On which the Prince of Glory died.”

When we wish to know the love of God we should go to Calvary. Can we
look upon that scene, and say God did not love us? That cross speaks of the
love of God. Greater love never has been taught than that which the cross
teaches. What prompted God to give up Christ?–what prompted Christ to
die?–if it were not love? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends.” Christ laid down His life for His enemies;
Christ laid down His life for His murderers; Christ laid down His life for
them that hated Him; and the spirit of the cross, the spirit of Calvary, is
love. When they were mocking Him and deriding Him, what did He say?
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is love. He
did not call down fire from heaven to consume them; there was nothing but
love in His heart.

If you study the Bible you will find that the love of God is unchangeable.
Many who loved you at one time have perhaps grown cold in their
affection, and turned away from you: it may be that their love is changed to
hatred. It is not so with God. It is recorded of Jesus Christ, just when He
was about to be parted from His disciples and led away to Calvary, that:
“having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the
end” (John xiii. 1). He knew that one of His disciples would betray Him;
yet He loved Judas. He knew that another disciple would deny Him, and
swear that he never knew Him; and yet He loved Peter. It was the love
which Christ had for Peter that broke his heart, and brought him back in
penitence to the feet of his Lord. For three years Jesus had been with the
disciples trying to teach them His love, not only by His life and words, but
by His works. And, on the night of His betrayal, He takes a basin of water,
girds Himself with a towel, and taking the place of a servant, washes their

CHAPTER I.

feet; He wanted to convince them of His unchanging love.

There is no portion of Scripture I read so often as John xiv; and there is
none that is more sweet to me. I never tire of reading it. Hear what our Lord
says, as He pours out His heart to His Disciples: “At that day ye shall know
that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. He that hath My
commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that
loveth Me shall be loved by My Father” (xiv. 20,21). Think of the great
God who created heaven and earth loving you and me! . . . “If a man love
Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him; and We will
come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (v. 23).

Would to God that our puny minds could grasp this great truth, that the
Father and the Son so love us that They desire to come and abide with us.
Not to tarry for a night, but to come and abide in our hearts.

We have another passage more wonderful still in John xvii. 23. “I in them,
and thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world
may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved
Me.” I think that is one of the most remarkable sayings that ever fell from
the lips of Jesus Christ. There is no reason why the Father should not love
him. He was obedient unto death; He never transgressed the Father’s law, or
turned aside from the path of perfect obedience by one hair’s breadth. It is
very different with us; and yet, notwithstanding all our rebellion and
foolishness, He says that if we are trusting in Christ, the Father loves us as
He loves the Son. Marvellous love! Wonderful love! That God can possibly
love us as He loves His own Son seems too good to be true. Yet that is the
teaching of Jesus Christ.

It is hard to make a sinner believe in this unchangeable love of God. When
a man has wandered away from God he thinks that God hates him. We
must make a distinction between sin and the sinner. God loves the sinner;
but He hates the sin. He hates sin, because it mars human life. It is just
because God loves the sinner that He hates sin.

CHAPTER I.

God’s love is not only unchangeable, but unfailing. In Isaiah xlix. 15, 16 we
read: “Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have
compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget; yet will I not
forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy
walls are continually before Me.”

Now the strongest human love that we know of is a mother’s love. Many
things will separate a man from his wife. A father may turn his back on his
child; brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies; husbands may
desert their wives; wives, their husbands. But a mother’s love endures
through all. In good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s
condemnation, a mother loves on, and hopes that her child may turn from
his evil ways and repent. She remembers the infant smiles, the merry laugh
of childhood, the promise of youth; and she can never be brought to think
him unworthy. Death cannot quench a mother’s love; it is stronger than
death.

You have seen a mother watching over her sick child. How willingly she
would take the disease into her own body if she could thus relieve her
child! Week after week she will keep watch; she will let no one else take
care of that sick child.

A friend of mine, some time ago, was visiting in a beautiful home where he
met a number of friends. After they had all gone away, having left
something behind, he went back to get it. There he found the lady of the
house, a wealthy lady, sitting behind a poor fellow who looked like a
tramp. He was her own son. Like the prodigal, he had wandered far away:
yet the mother said, “This is my boy; I love him still.” Take a mother with
nine or ten children, if one goes astray, she seems to love that one more
than any of the rest.

A leading minister in the state of New York once told me of a father who
was a very bad character. The mother did all she could to prevent the
contamination of the boy; but the influence of the father was stronger, and
he led his son into all kinds of sin until the lad became one of the worst of
criminals. He committed murder, and was put on his trial. All through the

CHAPTER I.

trial, the widowed mother (for the father had died) sat in the court. When
the witnesses testified against the boy it seemed to hurt the mother much
more than the son. When he was found guilty and sentenced to die, every
one else feeling the justice of the verdict, seemed satisfied at the result. But
the mother’s love never faltered. She begged for a reprieve; but that was
denied. After the execution she craved for the body; and this also was
refused. According to custom, it was buried in the prison yard. A little
while afterwards the mother herself died; but, before she was taken away,
she expressed a desire to be buried by the side of her boy. She was not
ashamed of being known as the mother of a murderer.

The story is told of a young woman in Scotland, who left her home, and
became an outcast in Glasgow. Her mother sought her far and wide, but in
vain. At last, she caused her picture to be hung upon the walls of the
Midnight Mission rooms, where abandoned women resorted. Many gave
the picture a passing glance. One lingered by the picture. It is the same dear
face that looked down upon her in her childhood. She has not forgotten nor
cast off her sinning child; or her picture would never have been hung upon
those walls. The lips seemed to open, and whisper, “Come home; I forgive
you, and love you still.” The poor girl sank down overwhelmed with her
feelings. She was the prodigal daughter. The sight of her mother’s face had
broken her heart. She became truly penitent for her sins, and with a heart
full of sorrow and shame, returned to her forsaken home; and mother and
daughter were once more united.

But let me tell you that no mother’s love is to be compared with the love of
God; it does not measure the height of the depth of God’s love. No mother
in this world ever loved her child as God loves you and me. Think of the
love that God must have had when He gave His Son to die for the world. I
used to think a good deal more of Christ than I did of the Father. Somehow
or other I had the idea that God was a stern judge; that Christ came between
me and God, and appeased the anger of God. But after I became a father,
and for years had an only son, as I looked at my boy I thought of the Father
giving His Son to die; and it seemed to me as if it required more love for
the Father to give His Son than for the Son to die. Oh, the love that God
must have had for the world when He gave His Son to die for it! “God so

CHAPTER I.

loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John iii. 16).
I have never been able to preach from that text. I have often thought I
would; but it is so high that I can never climb to its height; I have just
quoted it and passed on. Who can fathom the depth of those words: “God so
loved the world?” We can never scale the heights of His love or fathom its
depths. Paul prayed that he might know the height, the depth, the length,
and the breadth, of the love of God; but it was past his finding out. It
“passeth knowledge” (Eph. iii. 19).

Nothing speaks to us of the love of God, like the cross of Christ. Come with
me to Calvary, and look upon the Son of God as He hangs there. Can you
hear that piercing cry from His dying lips: “Father, forgive them; for they
know not what they do!” and say that He does not love you? “Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John

xv. 13). But Jesus Christ laid down His life for his enemies.
Another thought is this: He loved us long before we ever thought of Him.
The idea that he does not love us until we first love Him is not to be found
in Scripture. In 1 John iv. 10, it is written: “Herein is love, not that we
loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for
our sins.” He loved us before we ever thought of loving Him. You loved
your children before they knew anything about your love. And so, long
before we ever thought of God, we were in His thoughts.

What brought the prodigal home? It was the thought that his father loved
him. Suppose the news had reached him that he was cast off, and that his
father did not care for him any more, would he have gone back? Never! But
the thought dawned upon him that his father loved him still: so he rose up,
and went back to his home. Dear reader, the love of the Father ought to
bring us back to Him. It was Adam’s calamity and sin that revealed God’s
love. When Adam fell God came down and dealt in mercy with him. If any
one is lost it will not be because God does not love him: it will be because
he has resisted the love of God.

CHAPTER I.

What will make Heaven attractive? Is it the pearly gates or the golden
streets? No. Heaven will be attractive, because there we shall behold Him
who loved us so much as to give His only-begotten Son to die for us. What
makes home attractive? Is it the beautiful furniture and stately rooms? No;
some homes with all these are like whited sepulchres. In Brooklyn a mother
was dying; and it was necessary to take her child from her, because the
little child could not understand the nature of the sickness, and disturbed
her mother. Every night the child sobbed herself to sleep in a neighbor’s
house, because she wanted to go back to her mother’s; but the mother grew
worse, and they could not take the child home. At last the mother died; and
after her death they thought it best not to let the child see her dead mother
in her coffin. After the burial the child ran into one room crying “Mamma!
mamma!” and then into another crying “Mamma! mamma!” and so went
over the whole house: and when the little creature failed to find that loved
one she cried to be taken back to the neighbors. So what makes heaven
attractive is the thought that we shall see Christ who has loved us and given
Himself for us.

If you ask me why God should love us, I cannot tell. I suppose it is because
He is a true Father. It is His nature to love; just as it is the nature of the sun
to shine. He wants you to share in that love. Do not let unbelief keep you
away from Him. Do not think that, because you are a sinner, God does not
love you, or care for you. He does! He wants to save you and bless you.

“When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly” (Rom. v. 6). Is that not enough to convince you that He loves
you? He would not have died for you if He had not loved you. Is your heart
so hard that you can brace yourself up against His love, and spurn and
despise it? You can do it; but it will be at your peril.

I can imagine some saying to themselves, “Yes, we believe that God loves
us, if we love Him; we believe that God loves the pure and the holy.” Let
me say, my friend, not only does God love the pure and the holy: He also
loves the ungodly. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. v. 8). God sent him to die for
the sins of the whole world. If you belong to the world, then you have part

CHAPTER I.

and lot in this love that has been exhibited in the cross of Christ.

There is a passage in Revelation (i. 5.) which I think a great deal of–“Unto
Him that loved us, and washed us.” It might be thought that God would first
wash us, and then love us. But no, He first loved us. About eight years ago
the whole country was intensely excited about Charlie Ross, a child of four
years old, who was stolen. Two men in a gig asked him and an elder
brother if they wanted some candy. They then drove away with the younger
boy, leaving the elder one. For many years a search has been made in every
State and territory. Men have been over to Great Britain, France, and
Germany, and have hunted in vain for the child. The mother still lives in
the hope that she will see her long lost Charlie. I never remember the whole
country to have been so much agitated about any event unless it was the
assassination of President Garfield. Well, suppose the mother of Charlie
Ross were in some meeting; and that while the preacher was speaking, she
happened to look down amongst the audience and see her long lost son.
Suppose that he was poor, dirty and ragged, shoeless and coatless, what
would she do? Would she wait till he was washed and decently clothed
before she would acknowledge him? No, she would get off the platform at
once, rush towards him and take him in her arms. After that she would
cleanse and clothe him. So it is with God. He loved us, and washed us. I
can imagine one saying, “If God loves me, why does He not make me
good?” God wants sons and daughters in heaven; He does not want
machines or slaves. He could break our stubborn hearts, but He wants to
draw us towards Himself by the cords of love.

He wanted you to sit down with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb; to
wash you, and make you whiter than snow. He wants you to walk with Him
the crystal pavement of yonder blissful world. He wants to adopt you into
His family; and to make you a son or a daughter of heaven. Will you
trample His love under your feet? or will you, this hour, give yourself to
Him?

When our terrible civil war was going on, a mother received the news that
her boy had been wounded in the battle of the Wilderness. She took the first
train, and started for her boy, although the order had gone forth from the

CHAPTER I.

War Department that no more women should be admitted within the lines.
But a mother’s love knows nothing about orders so she managed by tears
and entreaties to get through the lines to the Wilderness. At last she found
the hospital where her boy was. Then she went to the doctor and she said:
“Will you let me go to the ward and nurse my boy?”

The doctor said: “I have just got your boy to sleep; he is in a very critical
state; and I am afraid if you wake him up the excitement will be so great
that it will carry him off. You had better wait awhile, and remain without
until I tell him that you have come, and break the news gradually to him.”
The mother looked into the doctor’s face and said: “Doctor, supposing my
boy does not wake up, and I should never see him alive! Let me go and sit
down by his side; I won’t speak to him.” “If you will not speak to him you
may do so,” said the doctor.

She crept to the cot and looked into the face of her boy. How she had
longed to look at him! How her eyes seemed to be feasting as she gazed
upon his countenance! When she got near enough she could not keep her
hands off; she laid that tender, loving hand upon his brow. The moment the
hand touched the forehead of her boy, he, without opening his eyes, cried
out: “Mother, you have come!” He knew the touch of that loving hand.
There was love and sympathy in it.

Ah, sinner, if you feel the loving touch of Jesus you will recognize it; it is
so full of tenderness. The world may treat you unkindly; but Christ never
will. You will never have a better Friend in this world. What you need
is–to come today to Him. Let His loving arm be underneath you; let His
loving hand be about you; and He will hold you with mighty power. He
will keep you, and fill that heart of yours with His tenderness and love.

I can imagine some of you saying, “How shall I go to Him?” Why, just as
you would go to your mother. Have you done your mother a great injury
and a great wrong? If so, you go to her and you say, “Mother, I want you to
forgive me.” Treat Christ in the same way. Go to Him to-day and tell Him
that you have not loved Him, that you have not treated Him right; confess
you sins, and see how quickly He will bless you.

CHAPTER I.

I am reminded of another incident–that of a boy who had been tried by
court-martial and ordered to be shot. The hearts of the father and mother
were broken when they heard the news. In that home was a little girl. She
had read the life of Abraham Lincoln, and she said: “Now, if Abraham
Lincoln knew how my father and mother loved their boy, he would not let
my brother be shot.” She wanted her father to go to Washington to plead for
his boy. But the father said: “No; there is no use; the law must take its
course. They have refused to pardon one or two who have been sentenced
by that court-martial, and an order has gone forth that the President is not
going to interfere again; if a man has been sentenced by court-martial he
must suffer the consequences.” That father and mother had not faith to
believe that their boy might be pardoned.

But the little girl was strong in hope; she got on the train away up in
Vermont, and started off to Washington. When she reached the White
House the soldiers refused to let her in; but she told her pitiful story, and
they allowed her to pass. When she got to the Secretary’s room, where the
President’s private secretary was, he refused to allow her to enter the private
office of the President. But the little girl told her story, and it touched the
heart of the private secretary; so he passed her in. As she went into
Abraham Lincoln’s room, there were United States senators, generals,
governors and leading politicians, who were there about important business
about the war; but the President happened to see that child standing at his
door. He wanted to know what she wanted, and she went right to him and
told her story in her own language. He was a father, and the great tears
trickled down Abraham Lincoln’s cheeks. He wrote a dispatch ard sent it to
the army to have that boy sent to Washington at once. When he arrived, the
President pardoned him, gave him thirty days furlough, and sent him home
with the little girl to cheer the hearts of the father and mother.

Do you want to know how to go to Christ? Go just as that little girl went to
Abraham Lincoln. It may be possible that you have a dark story to tell. Tell
it all out; keep nothing back. If Abraham Lincoln had compassion on that
little girl, heard her petition and answered it, do you think the Lord Jesus
will not hear your prayer? Do, you think that Abraham Lincoln, or any man
that ever lived on earth, had as much compassion as Christ? No! He will be

CHAPTER I.

touched when no one else will; He will have mercy when no one else will;
He will have pity when no one else will. If you will go right to Him,
confessing your sin and your need, He will save you.

A few years ago a man left England and went to America. He was an
Englishman; but he was naturalized, and so became an American citizen.
After a few years he felt restless and dissatisfied, and went to Cuba; and
after he had been in Cuba a little while civil war broke out there; it was in
1867; and this man was arrested by the Spanish government as a spy. He
was tried by court-martial, found guilty and ordered to be shot. The whole
trial was conducted in the Spanish language, and the poor man did not
know what was going on. When they told him the verdict, that he was
found guilty and had been condemned to be shot, he sent to the American
Consul and the English Consul, and laid the whole case before them,
proving his innocence and claiming protection. They examined the case,
and found that this man whom the Spanish officers had condemned to be
shot was perfectly innocent; they went to the Spanish General and said,
“Look here, this man whom you have condemned to death is an innocent
man; he is not guilty.” But the Spanish General said, “He has been tried by
our law; he has been found guilty; he must die.” There was no electric
cable; and these men could not consult with their governments.

The morning came on which the man was to be executed. He was brought
out sitting on his coffin in a cart, and drawn to the place where he was to be
executed. A grave was dug. They took the coffin out of the cart, placed the
young man upon it, took the black cap, and were just pulling it down over
his face. The Spanish soldiers awaited the order to fire. But just then the
American and English Consuls rode up. The English Consul sprang out of
the carriage and took the union jack, the British flag, and wrapped it around
the man, and the American Consul wrapped around him the star-spangled
banner, and then turning to the Spanish officers they said: “Fire upon those
flags if you dare.” They did not dare to fire upon the flags. There were two
great governments behind those flags. That was the secret of it.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.
. . . His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me”

CHAPTER I.

(Song Sol. ii. 4, 6). Thank God we can come under the banner to-day if we
will. Any, poor sinner can come under that banner to-day. His banner of
love is over us. Blessed Gospel; blessed, precious, news. Believe it to-day;
receive it into your heart; and enter into a new life. Let the love of God be
shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost to-day: it will drive away
darkness; it will drive away gloom; it will drive away sin; and peace and
joy shall be yours.

CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER II.

THE GATEWAY INTO THE KINGDOM.

“Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

(John iii. 3.)

There is no portion of the Word of God, perhaps, with which we are more
familiar than this passage. I suppose if I were to ask those in any audience
if they believed that Jesus Christ taught the doctrine of the New Birth, nine
tenths of them would say: “Yes, I believe He did.”

Now if the words of this text are true they embody one of the most solemn
questions that can come before us. We can afford to be deceived about
many things rather than about this one thing. Christ makes it very plain. He
says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of
God”–much less inherit it. This doctrine of the New Birth is therefore the
foundation of all our hopes for the world to come. It is really the A B C of
the Christian religion. My experience has been this–that if a man is
unsound on this doctrine he will be unsound on almost every other
fundamental doctrine in the Bible. A true understanding of this subject will
help a man to solve a thousand difficulties that he may meet with in the
Word of God. Things that before seemed very dark and mysterious will
become very plain.

The doctrine of the New Birth upsets all false religion–all false views
about the Bible and about God. A friend of mine once told me that in one of
his after-meetings, a man came to him with a long list of questions written
out for him to answer. He said: “If you can answer these questions
satisfactorily, I have made up my mind to be a Christian.” “Do you not
think,” said my friend, “that you had better come to Christ first? Then you
can look into these questions.” The man thought that perhaps he had better
do so. After he had received Christ, he looked again at his list of questions;
but then it seemed to him as if they had all been answered. Nicodemus
came with his troubled mind, and Christ said to him, “Ye must be born

CHAPTER II.

again.” He was treated altogether differently from what he expected; but I
venture to say that was the most blessed night in all his life. To be “born
again” is the greatest blessing that will ever come to us in this world.

Notice how the Scripture puts it. “Except a man be born again,” “born from
above,”[Note: John iii. 3. Marginal reading] “born of the Spirit.” From
amongst a number of other passages where we find this word “except,” I
would just name three. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
(Luke xiii. 3, 5.) “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye
shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. xviii. 3.) “Except your
righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. v. 20.) They
all really mean the same thing.

I am so thankful that our Lord spoke of the New Birth to this ruler of the
Jews, this doctor of the law, rather than to the woman at the well of
Samaria, or to Matthew the publican, or to Zaccheus. If He had reserved his
teaching on this great matter for these three, or such as these, people would
have said: “Oh yes, these publicans and harlots need to be converted: but I
am an upright man; I do not need to be converted.” I suppose Nicodemus
was one of the best specimens of the people of Jerusalem: there was
nothing on record against him.

I think it is scarcely necessary for me to prove that we need to be born
again before we are meet for heaven. I venture to say that there is no candid
man but would say he is not fit for the kingdom of God, until he is born of
another Spirit. The Bible teaches us that man by nature is lost and guilty,
and our experience confirms this. We know also that the best and holiest
man, if he turn away from God, will very soon fall into sin.

Now, let me say what Regeneration is not. It is not going to church. Very
often I see people, and ask them if they are Christians. “Yes, of course I
am; at least, I think I am: I go to church every Sunday.” Ah, but this is not
Regeneration. Others say, “I am trying to do what is right–am I not a
Christian? Is not that a new birth?” No. What has that to do with being born
again? There is yet another class–those who have “turned over a new leaf,”

CHAPTER II.

and think they are regenerated. No; forming a new resolution is not being
born again.

Nor will being baptized do you any good. Yet you hear people say, “Why, I
have been baptized; and I was born again when I was baptized.” They
believe that because they were baptized into the church, they were baptized
into the Kingdom of God. I tell you that it is utterly impossible. You may
be baptized into the church, and yet not be baptized into the Son of God.
Baptism is all right in its place. God forbid that I should say anything
against it. But if you put that in the place of Regeneration–in the place of
the New Birth–it is a terrible mistake. You cannot be baptized into the
Kingdom of God. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom
of God.” If any one reading this rests his hopes on anything else–on any
other foundation–I pray that God may sweep it away.

Another class say, “I go to the Lord’s Supper; I partake uniformly of the
Sacrament.” Blessed ordinance! Jesus hath said that as often as ye do it ye
commemorate His death. Yet, that is not being “born again;” that is not
passing from death unto life. Jesus says plainly–and so plainly that there
need not be any mistake about it–“Except a man be born of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” What has a sacrament to do with
that? What has going to church to do with being born again?

Another man comes up and says, “I say my prayers regularly.” Still I say
that is not being born of the Spirit. It is a very solemn question, then, that
comes up before us; and oh! that every reader would ask himself earnestly
and faithfully: “Have I been born again? Have I been born of the Spirit?
Have I passed from death unto life?”

There is a class of men who say that special religious meetings are very
good for a certain class of people. They would be very good if you could
get the drunkard there, or get the gambler there, or get other vicious people
there–that would do a great deal of good. But “we do not need to be
converted.” To whom did Christ utter these words of wisdom? To
Nicodemus. Who was Nicodemus? Was he a drunkard, a gambler, or a
thief? No! No doubt he was one of the very best men in Jerusalem. He was

CHAPTER II.

an honorable Councillor; he belonged to the Sanhedrim; he held a very high
position; he was an orthodox man; he was one of the very soundest men.
And yet what did Christ say to him? “Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God.”

But I can imagine some one saying, “What am I to do? I cannot create life.
I certainly cannot save myself.” You certainly cannot; and we do not claim
that you can. We tell you it is utterly impossible to make a man better
without Christ; but that is what men are trying to do. They are trying to
patch up this “old Adam” nature. There must be a new creation.
Regeneration is a new creation; and if it is a new creation it must be the
work of God. In the first chapter of Genesis man does not appear. There is
no one there but God. Man is not there to take part. When God created the
earth He was alone. When Christ redeemed the world He was alone.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit.” (John iii. 6.) The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, and the
leopard cannot change his spots. You might as well try to make yourselves
pure and holy without the help of God. It would be just as easy for you to
do that as for the black man to wash himself white. A man might just as
well try to leap over the moon as to serve God in the flesh. Therefore, “that
which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit.”

Now God tells us in this chapter how we are to get into His kingdom. We
are not to work our way in–not but that salvation is worth working for. We
admit all that. If there were rivers and mountains in the way, it would be
well worth while to swim those rivers, and climb those mountains. There is
no doubt that salvation is worth all that effort; but we do not obtain it by
our works. It is “to him that worketh not, but believeth” (Rom. iv. 5). We
work because we are saved; we do not work to be saved. We work from the
cross; but not towards it. It is written, “Work out your own salvation with
fear and trembling” (Phil. ii. 12). Why, you must have your salvation before
you can work it out. Suppose I say to my little boy, “I want you to spend
that hundred dollars carefully.” “Well,” he says, “let me have the hundred
dollars; and I will be careful how I spend it.” I remember when I first left

CHAPTER II.

home and went to Boston; I had spent all my money, and I went to the
post-office three times a day. I knew there was only one mail a day from
home; but I thought by some possibility there might be a letter for me. At
last I received a letter from my little sister; and oh, how glad I was to get it.
She had heard that there were a great many pick-pockets in Boston, and a
large part of that letter was to urge me to be very careful not to let anybody
pick my pocket. Now I required to have something in my pocket before I
could have it picked. So you must have salvation before you can work it
out.

When Christ cried out on Calvary, “It is finished!” He meant what He said.
All that men have to do now is just to accept of the work of Jesus Christ.
There is no hope for man or woman so long as they are trying to work out
salvation for themselves. I can imagine there are some people who will say,
as Nicodemus possibly did, “This is a very mysterious thing.” I see the
scowl on that Pharisee’s brow as he says, “How can these things be?” It
sounds very strange to his ear. “Born again; born of the Spirit! How can
these things be?” A great many people say, “You must reason it out; but if
you do not reason it out, do not ask us to believe it.” I can imagine a great
many people saying that. When you ask me to reason it out, I tell you
frankly I cannot do it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest
the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth:
so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 8.) I do not understand
everything about the wind. You ask me to reason it out. I cannot. It may
blow due north here, and a hundred miles away due south. I may go up a
few hundred feet, and find it blowing in an entirely opposite direction from
what it is down here. You ask me to explain these currents of wind; but
suppose that, because I cannot explain them, and do not understand them, I
were to take my stand and assert, “Oh, there is no such thing as wind.” I can
imagine some little girl saying, “I know more about it than that man does;
often have I heard the wind, and felt it blowing against my face;” and she
might say, “Did not the wind blow my umbrella out of my hands the other
day? and did I not see it blow a man’s hat off in the street? Have I not seen
it blow the trees in the forest, and the growing corn in the country?”

CHAPTER II.

You might just as well tell me that there is no such thing as wind, as tell me
there is no such thing as a man being born of the Spirit. I have felt the spirit
of God working in my heart, just as really and as truly as I have felt the
wind blowing in my face. I cannot reason it out. There are a great many
things I cannot reason out, but which I believe. I never could reason out the
creation. I can see the world, but I cannot tell how God made it out of
nothing. But almost every man will admit there was a creative power.

There are a great many things that I cannot explain and cannot reason out,
and yet that I believe. I heard a commercial traveler say that he had heard
that the ministry and religion of Jesus Christ were matters of revelation and
not of investigation. “When it pleased God to reveal His Son in Me,” says
Paul (Gal. i, 15, 16). There was a party of young men together, going up the
country; and on their journey they made up their minds not to believe
anything they could not reason out. An old man heard them; and presently
he said, “I heard you say you would not believe anything you could not
reason out.” “Yes,” they said, “that is so.” “Well,” he said, “coming down
on the train to-day, I noticed some geese, some sheep, some swine, and
some cattle all eating grass. Can you tell me by what process that same
grass was turned into hair, feathers, bristles and wool? Do you believe it is
a fact?” “Oh yes,” they said, “we cannot help believing that, though we fail
to understand it.” “Well,” said the old man, “I cannot help believing in
Jesus Christ.” And I cannot help believing in the regeneration of man, when
I see men who have been reclaimed, when I see men who have been
reformed. Have not some of the very worst men been regenerated–been
picked up out of the pit, and had their feet set upon the Rock, and a new
song put in their mouths? Their tongues were cursing and blaspheming; and
now are occupied in praising God. Old things have passed away, and all
things have become new. They are not reformed only, but regenerated–new
men in Christ Jesus.

Down there in the dark alleys of one of our great cities is a poor drunkard. I
think if you want to get near hell, you should go to a poor drunkard’s home.
Go to the house of that poor miserable drunkard. Is there anything more
like hell on earth? See the want and distress that reign there. But hark! A
footstep is heard at the door, and the children run and hide themselves. The

CHAPTER II.

patient wife waits to meet the man. He has been her torment. Many a time
she has borne about the marks of his blows for weeks. Many a time that
strong right hand has been brought down on her defenseless head. And now
she waits expecting to hear his oaths and suffer his brutal treatment. He
comes in and says to her: “I have been to the meeting; and I heard there that
if I will I can be converted. I believe that God is able to save me.” Go down
to that house again in a few weeks: and what a change! As you approach
you hear some one singing. It is not the song of a reveller, but the strains of
that good old hymn, “Rock of Ages.” The children are no longer afraid of
the man, but cluster around his knee. His wife is near him, her face lit up
with a happy glow. Is not that a picture of Regeneration? I can take you to
many such homes, made happy by the regenerating power of the religion of
Christ. What men want is the power to overcome temptation, the power to
lead a right life.

The only way to get into the kingdom of God is to be “born” into it. The
law of this country requires that the President should be born in the
country. When foreigners come to our shores they have no right to
complain against such a law, which forbids them from ever becoming
Presidents. Now, has not God a right to make a law that all those who
become heirs of eternal life must be “born” into His kingdom?

An unregenerated man would rather be in hell than in heaven. Take a man
whose heart is full of corruption and wickedness, and place him in heaven
among the pure, the holy and the redeemed; and he would not want to stay
there. Certainly, if we are to be happy in heaven we must begin to make a
heaven here on earth. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. If a
gambler or a blasphemer were taken out of the streets of New York and
placed on the crystal pavement of heaven and under the shadow of the tree
of life, he would say, “I do not want to stay here.” If men were taken to
heaven just as they are by nature, without having their hearts regenerated,
there would be another rebellion in heaven. Heaven is filled with a
company of those who have been twice born.

In the 14th and 15th verses of this chapter we read “As Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that

CHAPTER II.

whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
“WHOSOEVER.” Mark that! Let me tell you who are unsaved what God
has done for you. He has done everything that He could do toward your
salvation. You need not wait for God to do anything more. In one place he
asks the question, what more could he have done (Isaiah v. 4). He sent His
prophets, and they killed them; then He sent His beloved Son, and they
murdered Him. Now He has sent the Holy Spirit to convince us of sin, and
to show how we are to be saved.

In this chapter we are told how men are to be saved, namely, by Him who
was lifted up on the cross. Just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the
wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, “that whosoever believeth
in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Some men complain and
say that it is very unreasonable that they should be held responsible for the
sin of a man six thousand years ago. It was not long ago that a man was
talking to me about this injustice, as he called it. If a man thinks he is going
to answer God in that way, I tell you it will not do him any good. If you are
lost, it will not be on account of Adam’s sin.

Let me illustrate this; and perhaps you will be better able to understand it.
Suppose I am dying of consumption, which I inherited from my father or
mother. I did not get the disease by any fault of my own, by any neglect of
my health; I inherited it, let us suppose. A friend happens to come along: he
looks at me, and says: “Moody, you are in a consumption.” I reply, “I know
it very well; I do not want any one to tell me that.” “But,” he says, “there is
a remedy.” “But, sir, I do not believe it. I have tried the leading physicians
in this country and in Europe; and they tell me there is no hope.” “But you
know me, Moody; you have known me for years.” “Yes, sir.” “Do you
think, then, I would tell you a falsehood?” “No.” “Well, ten years ago I was
as far gone. I was given up by the physicians to die; but I took this
medicine and it cured me. I am perfectly well: look at me.” I say that it is “a
very strange case.” “Yes, it may be strange; but it is a fact. This medicine
cured me: take this medicine, and it will cure you. Although it has cost me
a great deal, it shall not cost you anything. Do not make light of it, I beg of
you.” “Well,” I say, “I should like to believe you; but this is contrary to my
reason.”

CHAPTER II.

Hearing this, my friend goes away and returns with another friend, and that
one testifies to the same thing. I am still disbelieving; so he goes away, and
brings in another friend, and another, and another, and another; and they all
testify to the same thing. They say they were as bad as myself; that they
took the same medicine that has been offered to me; and that it has cured
them. My friend then hands me the medicine. I dash it to the ground; I do
not believe in its saving power; I die. The reason is then that I spurned the
remedy. So, if you perish, it will not be because Adam fell; but because you
spurned the remedy offered to save you. You will choose darkness rather
than light. “How then shall ye escape, if ye neglect so great salvation?”
There is no hope for you if you neglect the remedy. It does no good to look
at the wound. If we had been in the Israelitish camp and had been bitten by
one of the fiery serpents, it would have done us no good to look at the
wound. Looking at the wound will never save any one. What you must do
is to look at the Remedy–look away to Him who hath power to save you
from your sin.

Behold the camp of the Israelites; look at the scene that is pictured to your
eyes! Many are dying because they neglect the remedy that is offered. In
that arid desert is many a short and tiny grave; many a child has been bitten
by the fiery serpents. Fathers and mothers are bearing away their children.
Over yonder they are just burying a mother; a loved mother is about to be
laid in the earth. All the family, weeping, gather around the beloved form.
You hear the mournful cries; you see the bitter tears. The father is being
borne away to his last resting place. There is wailing going up all over the
camp. Tears are pouring down for thousands who have passed away;
thousands more are dying; and the plague is raging from one end of the
camp to the other.

I see in one tent an Israelitish mother bending over the form of a beloved
boy just coming into the bloom of life, just budding into manhood. She is
wiping away the sweat of death that is gathering upon his brow. Yet a little
while, and his eyes are fixed and glassy, for life is ebbing fast away. The
mother’s heart-strings are torn and bleeding. All at once she hears a noise in
the camp. A great shout goes up. What does it mean? She goes to the door
of the tent. “What is the noise in the camp?” she asks those passing by. And

CHAPTER II.

some one says: “Why, my good woman, have you not heard the good news
that has come into the camp?” “No,” says the woman, “Good news! What is
it?” “Why, have you not heard about it? God has provided a remedy.”
“What! for the bitten Israelites? Oh, tell me what the remedy is!” “Why,
God has instructed Moses to make a brazen serpent, and to put it on a pole
in the middle of the camp; and He has declared that whosoever looks upon
it shall live. The shout that you hear is the shout of the people when they
see the serpent lifted up.” The mother goes back into the tent, and she says:
“My boy, I have good news to tell you. You need not die! My boy, my boy,
I have come with good tidings; you can live!” He is already getting
stupefied; he is so weak he cannot walk to the door of the tent. She puts her
strong arms under him and lifts him up. “Look yonder; look right there
under the hill!” But the boy does not see anything; he says–“I do not see
anything; what is it, mother?” And she says: “Keep looking, and you will
see it.” At last he catches a glimpse of the glistening serpent; and lo, he is
well! And thus it is with many a young convert. Some men say, “Oh, we do
not believe in sudden conversions.” How long did it take to cure that boy?
How long did it take to cure those serpent-bitten Israelites? It was just a
look; and they were well.

That Hebrew boy is a young convert. I can fancy that I see him now calling
on all those who were with him to praise God. He sees another young man
bitten as he was; and he runs up to him and tells him, “You, need not die.”
“Oh,” the young man replies, “I cannot live; it is not possible. There is not a
physician in Israel who can cure me.” He does not know that he need not
die. “Why, have you not heard the news? God has provided a remedy.”
“What remedy?” “Why, God has told Moses to lift up a brazen serpent, and
has said that none of those who look upon that serpent shall die.” I can just
imagine the young man. He may be what you call an intellectual young
man. He says to the young convert “You do not think I am going to believe
anything like that? If the physicians in Israel cannot cure me, how do you
think that an old brass serpent on a pole is going to cure me?” “Why, sir, I
was as bad as yourself!” “You do not say so!” “Yes, I do.” “That is the most
astonishing thing I ever heard,” says the young man: “I wish you would
explain the philosophy of it.” “I cannot. I only know that I looked at that
serpent, and I was cured: that did it. I just looked; that is all. My mother

CHAPTER II.

told me the reports that were being heard through the camp; and I just
believed what my mother said, and I am perfectly well.” “Well, I do not
believe you were bitten as badly as I have been.” The young man pulls up
his sleeve. “Look there! That mark shows where I was bitten; and I tell you
I was worse than you are.” “Well, if I understood the philosophy of it I
would look and get well.” “Let your philosophy go: look and live.” “But,
sir, you ask me to do an unreasonable thing. If God had said, Take the brass
and rub it into the wound, there might be something in the brass that would
cure the bite. Young man, explain the philosophy of it.” I have often seen
people before me who have talked in that way. But the young man calls in
another, and takes him into the tent, and says: “Just tell him how the Lord
saved you;” and he tells just the same story; and he calls in others, and they
all say the same thing.

The young man says it is a very strange thing. “If the Lord had told Moses
to go and get some herbs, or roots, and stew them, and take the decoction as
a medicine, there would be something in that. But it is so contrary to nature
to do such a thing as look at the serpent, that I cannot do it.” At length his
mother, who has been out in the camp, comes in, and she says, “My boy, I
have just the best news in the world for you. I was in the camp, and I saw
hundreds who were very far gone, and they are all perfectly well now.” The
young man says: “I should like to get well; it is a very painful thought to
die; I want to go into the promised land, and it is terrible to die here in this
wilderness; but the fact is–I do not understand the remedy. It does not
appeal to my reason. I cannot believe that I can get well in a moment.” And
the young man dies in consequence of his own unbelief.

God provided a remedy for this bitten Israelite–“Look and live!” And there
is eternal life for every poor sinner, Look, and you can be saved, my reader,
this very hour. God has provided a remedy; and it is offered to all. The
trouble is, a great many people are looking at the pole. Do not look at the
pole; that is the church. You need not look at the church; the church is all
right, but the church cannot save you. Look beyond the pole. Look at the
Crucified One. Look to Calvary. Bear in mind, sinner, that Jesus died for
all. You need not look at ministers; they are just God’s chosen instruments
to hold up the Remedy, to hold up Christ. And so, my friends, take your

CHAPTER II.

eyes off from men; take your eyes off from the church. Lift them up to
Jesus; who took away the sin of the world, and there will be life for you
from this hour.

Thank God, we do not require an education to teach us how to look. That
little girl, that little boy, only four years old, who cannot read, can look.
When the father is coming home, the mother says to her little boy, “Look!
look! look!” and the little child learns to look long before he is a year old.
And that is the way to be saved. It is to look at the Lamb of God “who
taketh away the sin of the world;” and there is life this moment for every
one who is willing to look.

Some men say, “I wish I knew how to be saved.” Just take God at His word
and trust His Son this very day–this very hour–this very moment. He will
save you, if you will trust Him. I imagine I hear some one saying, “I do not
feel the bite as much as I wish I did. I know I am a sinner, and all that; but I
do not feel the bite enough.” How much does God want you to feel it?

When I was in Belfast I knew a doctor who had a friend, a leading surgeon
there; and he told me that the surgeon’s custom was, before performing any
operation, to say to the patient, “Take a good look at the wound, and then
fix your eyes on me; and do not take them off till I get through.” I thought
at the time that was a good illustration. Sinner, take a good look at your
wound; and then fix your eyes on Christ, and do not take them off. It is
better to look at the Remedy than at the wound. See what a poor wretched
sinner you are; and then look at the Lamb of God who “taketh away the sin
of the world.” He died for the ungodly and the sinner. Say “I will take
Him!” And may God help you to lift your eye to the Man on Calvary. And
as the Israelites looked upon the serpent and were healed, so may you look
and live.

After the battle of Pittsburgh Landing I was in a hospital at Murfreesbro. In
the middle of the night I was aroused and told that a man in one of the
wards wanted to see me. I went to him and he called me “chaplain”–I was
not the chaplain–and said he wanted me to help him die. And I said, “I
would take you right up in my arms and carry you into the kingdom of God

CHAPTER II.

if I could; but I cannot do it: I cannot help you die!” And he said, “Who
can?” I said, “The Lord Jesus Christ can–He came for that purpose.” He
shook his head, and said, “He cannot save me; I have sinned all my life.”
And I said, “But He came to save sinners.” I thought of his mother in the
north, and I was sure that she was anxious that he should die in peace; so I
resolved I would stay with him. I prayed two or three times, and repeated
all the promises I could; for it was evident that in a few hours he would be
gone. I said I wanted to read him a conversation that Christ had with a man
who was anxious about his soul. I turned to the third chapter of John. His
eyes were riveted on me; and when I came to the 14th and 15th verses–the
passage before us–he caught up the words, “As Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He stopped me
and said, “Is that there?” I said “Yes.” He asked me to read it again; and I
did so. He leant his elbows on the cot and clasping his hands together, said,
“That’s good; won’t you read it again?” I read it the third time; and then
went on with the rest of the chapter. When I had finished, his eyes were
closed, his hands were folded, and there was a smile on his face. Oh, how it
was lit up! What change had come over it! I saw his lips quivering, and
leaning over him I heard in a faint whisper, “As Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He opened his
eyes and said, “That’s enough; don’t read any more.” He lingered a few
hours, pillowing his head on those two verses; and then went up in one of
Christ’s chariots, to take his seat in the kingdom of God.

Christ said to Nicodemus: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God.” You may see many countries; but there is one
country–the land of Beulah, which John Bunyan saw in vision–you shall
never behold, unless you are born again–regenerated by Christ. You can
look abroad and see many beautiful trees; but the tree of life, you shall
never behold, unless your eyes are made clear by faith in the Saviour. You
may see the beautiful rivers of the earth–you may ride upon their bosoms;
but bear in mind that your eye will never rest upon the river which bursts
out from the Throne of God and flows through the upper Kingdom, unless
you are born again. God has said it; and not man. You will never see the

CHAPTER II.

kingdom of God except you are born again. You may see the kings and
lords of the earth; but the King of kings and Lord of lords you will never
see except you are born again. When you are in London you may go to the
Tower and see the crown of England, which is worth thousands of dollars,
and is guarded there by soldiers; but bear in mind that your eye will never
rest upon the crown of life except you are born again.

You may hear the songs of Zion which are sung here; but one song–that of
Moses and the Lamb–the uncircumcised ear shall never hear; its melody
will only gladden the ear of those who have been born again. You may look
upon the beautiful mansions of earth, but bear in mind the mansions which
Christ has gone to prepare you shall never see unless you are born again. It
is God who says it. You may see ten thousand beautiful things in this
world; but the city that Abraham caught a glimpse of–and from that time
became a pilgrim and sojourner–you shall never see unless you are born
again (Heb. xi. 8, 10-16). You may often be invited to marriage feasts here;
but you will never attend the marriage supper of the Lamb except you are
born again. It is God who says it, dear friend. You may be looking on the
face of your sainted mother to-night, and feel that she is praying for you;
but the time will come when you shall never see her more unless you are
born again.

The reader may be a young man or a young lady who has recently stood by
the bedside of a dying mother; and she may have said, “Be sure and meet
me in heaven,” and you made the promise. Ah! you shall never see her
more, except you are born again. I believe Jesus of Nazareth, sooner than
those infidels who say you do not need to be born again. Parents, if you
hope to see your children who have gone before, you must be born of the
Spirit. Possibly you are a father or a mother who has recently borne a loved
one to the grave; and how dark your home seems! Never more will you see
your child, unless you are born again. If you wish to be re-united to your
loved one, you must be born again. I may be addressing a father or a
mother who has a loved one up yonder. If you could hear that loved one’s
voice, it would say, “Come this way.” Have you a sainted friend up yonder?
Young man or young lady, have you not a mother in the world of light? If
you could hear her speak, would not she say, “Come this way, my

CHAPTER II.

son,”–“Come this way, my daughter?” If you would ever see her more you
must be born again.

We all have an Elder Brother there. Nearly nineteen hundred years ago He
crossed over, and from the heavenly shores He is calling you to heaven. Let
us turn our backs upon the world. Let us give a deaf ear to the world. Let us
look to Jesus on the Cross and be saved. Then we shall one day see the
King in His beauty, and we shall go no more out.

CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER III.

THE TWO CLASSES.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray.”–Luke xvii. 10.

I now want to speak of two classes: First, those who do not feel their need
of a Saviour who have not been convinced of sin by the Spirit; and Second,
those who are convinced of sin and cry, “What must I do to be saved?”

All inquirers can be ranged under two heads: they have either the spirit of
the Pharisee, or the spirit of the publican. If a man having the spirit of the
Pharisee comes into an after-meeting, I know of no better portion of
Scripture to meet his case than Romans iii. 10: “As it is written, There is
none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth; there is none
that seeketh after God.” Paul is here speaking of the natural man. “They are
all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is
none that doeth good, no, not one.” And in the 17th verse and those which
follow, we have “And the way of peace have they not known; there is no
fear of God before their eyes. Now we know what things soever the law
saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be
stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

Then observe the last clause of verse 22: “For there is no difference; for all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Not part of the human
family–but all–“have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Another verse which has been very much used to convict men of their sin is
1 John i. 8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us.”

I remember that on one occasion we were holding meetings in an eastern
city of forty thousand inhabitants; and a lady came and asked us to pray for
her husband, whom she purposed bringing into the after meeting. I have
traveled a good deal and met many pharisaical men; but this man was so
clad in self-righteousness that you could not get the point of the needle of
conviction in anywhere. I said to his wife: “I am glad to see your faith; but

CHAPTER III.

we cannot get near him; he is the most self-righteous man I ever saw.” She
said: “You must! My heart will break if these meetings end without his
conversion.” She persisted in bringing him; and I got almost tired of the
sight of him.

But towards the close of our meetings of thirty days, he came up to me and
put his trembling hand on my shoulder. The place in which the meetings
were held was rather cold, and there was an adjoining room in which only
the gas had been lighted; and he said to me, “Can’t you come in here for a
few minutes?” I thought that he was shaking from cold, and I did not
particularly wish to go where it was colder. But he said: “I am the worst
man in the State of Vermont. I want you to pray for me.” I thought he had
committed a murder, or some other awful crime; and I asked: “Is there any
one sin that particularly troubles you?” And he said: “My whole life has
been a sin. I have been a conceited, self-righteous Pharisee. I want you to
pray for me.” He was under deep conviction. Man could not have produced
this result; but the Spirit had. About two o’clock in the morning light broke
in upon his soul: and he went up and down the business street of the city
and told what God had done for him; and has been a most active Christian
ever since.

There are four other passages in dealing with inquirers, which were used by
Christ Himself. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John iii. 3.)

In Luke xiii. 3, we read: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

In Matthew xviii., when the disciples came to Jesus to know who was to be
the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, we are told that He took a little child
and set him in the midst and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be
converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of
heaven” (xviii. 1-3).

There is another important “Except” in Matthew v. 20: “Except your
righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven.”

CHAPTER III.

A man must be made meet before he will want to go into the kingdom of
God. I would rather go into the kingdom with the younger brother than stay
outside with the elder. Heaven would be hell to such an one. An elder
brother who could not rejoice at his younger brother’s return would not be
“fit” for the kingdom of God. It is a solemn thing to contemplate; but the
curtain drops and leaves him outside, and the younger brother within. To
him the language of the Saviour under other circumstances seems
appropriate: “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go
into the kingdom of God before you” (Matt. xxi. 31).

A lady once came to me and wanted a favor for her daughter. She said:
“You must remember I do not sympathize with you in your doctrine.” I
asked: “What is your trouble?” She said: “I think your abuse of the elder
brother is horrible. I think he is a noble character.” I said that I was willing
to hear her defend him; but that it was a solemn thing to take up such a
position; and that the elder brother needed to be converted as much as the
younger. When people talk of being moral it is well to get them to take a
good look at the old man pleading with his boy who would not go in.

But we will pass on now to the other class with which we have to deal. It is
composed of those who are convinced of sin and from whom the cry comes
as from the Philippian jailer, “What must I do to be saved?” To those who
utter this penitential cry there is no necessity to administer the law. It is
well to bring them straight to the Scripture: “Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts xvi. 31). Many will meet you with a
scowl and say, “I don’t know what it is to believe;” and though it is the law
of heaven that they must believe, in order to be saved–yet they ask for
something besides that. We are to tell them what, and where, and how, to
believe.

In John iii. 35 and 36 we read: “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given
all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;
and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God
abideth on him.”

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Now this looks reasonable. Man lost life by unbelief–by not believing
God’s word; and we got life back again by believing–by taking God at His
word. In other words we get up where Adam fell down. He stumbled and
fell over the stone of unbelief; and we are lifted up and stand upright by
believing. When people say they cannot believe, show them chapter and
verse, and hold them right to this one thing: “Has God ever broken His
promise for these six thousand years?” The devil and men have been trying
all the time and have not succeeded in showing that He has broken a single
promise; and there would be a jubilee in hell to-day if one word that He has
spoken could be broken. If a man says that he cannot believe it is well to
press him on that one thing.

I can believe God better to-day than I can my own heart. “The heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer.

xxii. 9). I can believe God better than I can myself. If you want to know the
way of Life, believe that Jesus Christ is a personal Saviour; cut away from
all doctrines and creeds, and come right to the heart of the Son of God. If
you have been feeding on dry doctrine there is not much growth on that
kind of food. Doctrines are to the soul what the streets which lead to the
house of a friend who has invited me to dinner are to the body. They will
lead me there if I take the right one; but if I remain in the streets my hunger
will never be satisfied. Feeding on doctrines is like trying to live on dry
husks; and lean indeed must the soul remain which partakes not of the
Bread sent down from heaven.
Some ask: “How am I to get my heart warmed?” It is by believing. You do
not get power to love and serve God until you believe.

The apostle John says “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God
is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son.
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that
believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the
record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath
given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath
life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John v. 9).

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Human affairs would come to a standstill if we did not take the testimony
of men. How should we get on in the ordinary intercourse of life, and how
would commerce get on, if we disregarded men’s testimony? Things social
and commercial would come to a dead-lock within forty-eight hours! This
is the drift of the apostle’s argument here. “If we receive the witness of
men, the witness of God is greater.” God has borne witness to Jesus Christ.
And if man can believe his fellow men who are frequently telling untruths
and whom we are constantly finding unfaithful, why should we not take
God at His word and believe His testimony?

Faith is a belief in testimony. It is not a leap in the dark, as some tell us.
That would be no faith at all. God does not ask any man to believe without
giving him something to believe. You might as well ask a man to see
without eyes; to hear without ears; and to walk without feet–as to bid him
believe without giving him something to believe.

When I started for California I procured a guide-book. This told me, that
after leaving the State of Illinois, I should cross the Mississippi, and then
the Missouri; get into Nebraska; then over the Rocky Mountains to the
Mormon settlement at Salt Lake City, and by the way of the Sierra Nevada
into San Francisco. I found the guide book all right as I went along; and I
should have been a miserable sceptic if, having proved it to be correct
three-fourths of the way, I had said that I would not believe it for the
remainder of the journey.

Suppose a man, in directing me to the Post Office, gives me ten landmarks;
and that, in my progress there, I find nine of them to be as he told me; I
should have good reason to believe that I was coming to the Post Office.

And if, by believing, I get a new life, and a hope, a peace, a joy, and a rest
to my soul, that I never had before; if I get self-control, and find that I have
a power to resist evil and to do good, I have pretty good proof that I am in
the right road to the “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker
is God.” And if things have taken place, and are now taking place, as
recorded in God’s Word, I have good reason to conclude that what yet
remains will be fulfilled. And yet people talk of doubting. There can be no

CHAPTER III.

true faith where there is fear. Faith is to take God at His word,
unconditionally. There cannot be true peace where there is fear. “Perfect
love casteth out fear.” How wretched a wife would be if she doubted her
husband! and how miserable a mother would feel if after her boy had gone
away from home she had reason, from his neglect, to question that son’s
devotion! True love never has a doubt.

There are three things indispensable to faith–knowledge, assent, and
appropriation.

We must know God. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John xvii. 3).
Then we must not only give our assent to what we know; but we must lay
hold of the truth. If a man simply give his assent to the plan of salvation, it
will not save him: he must accept Christ as his Saviour. He must receive
and appropriate Him.

Some say they cannot tell how a man’s life can be affected by his belief.
But let some one cry out that some building in which we happen to be
sitting, is on fire; and see how soon we should act on our belief and get out.
We are all the time influenced by what we believe. We cannot help it. And
let a man believe the record that God has given of Christ, and it will very
quickly affect his whole life.

Take John v. 24. There is enough truth in that one verse for every soul to
rest upon for salvation. It does not admit the shadow of a doubt. “Verily,
verily”–which means truly, truly–“I say unto you, He that heareth My
word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath–hath–everlasting life, and
shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Now if a person really hears the word of Jesus and believes with the heart
on God who sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, and lays hold of
and appropriates this great salvation, there is no fear of judgment. He will
not be looking forward with dread to the Great White Throne; for we read
in 1 John iv. 17: “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.”

CHAPTER III.

If we believe, there is for us no condemnation, no judgment. That is behind
us, and passed; and we shall have boldness in the day of judgment.

I remember reading of a man who was on trial for his life. He had friends
with influence; and they procured a pardon for him from the king on
condition that he was to go through the trial, and be condemned. He went
into court with the pardon in his pocket. The feeling ran very high against
him, and the judge said that the court was shocked that he was so much
unconcerned. But, when the sentence was pronounced, he pulled out the
pardon, presented it, and walked out a free man. He has been pardoned; and
so have we. Then let death come, we have nought to fear. All the
grave-diggers in the world cannot dig a grave large enough and deep
enough to hold eternal life; all the coffin makers in the world cannot make
a coffin large enough and tight enough to hold eternal life. Death has had
his hand on Christ once, but never again.

Jesus said: “I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth
in Me shall never die” (John xi. 25, 26). And in the Apocalypse we read
that the risen Saviour said to John, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and,
behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev i. 18). Death cannot touch Him
again.

We get life by believing. In fact we get more than Adam lost; for the
redeemed child of God is heir to a richer and more glorious inheritance than
Adam in Paradise could ever have conceived; yea, and that inheritance
endures forever–it is inalienable.

I would much rather have my life hid with Christ in God than have lived in
Paradise; for Adam might have sinned and fallen after being there ten
thousand years. But the believer is safer, if these things become real to him.
Let us make them a fact, and not a fiction. God has said it; and that is
enough. Let us trust Him even where we cannot trace Him. Let the same
confidence animate us that was in little Maggie as related in the following
simple but touching incident which I read in the Bible Treasury:-

CHAPTER III.

“I had been absent from home for some days, and was wondering, as I
again draw near the homestead, if my little Maggie, just able to sit alone,
would remember me. To test her memory, I stationed myself where I could
see her, but could not be seen by her, and called her name in the familiar
tone, ‘Maggie!’ She dropped her playthings, glanced around the room, and
then looked down upon her toys. Again I repeated her name, ‘Maggie!’
when she once more surveyed the room; but, not seeing her father’s face,
she looked very sad, and slowly resumed her employment. Once more I
called, ‘Maggie!’ when, dropping her playthings, and bursting into tears, she
stretched out her arms in the direction whence the sound proceeded,
knowing that, though she could not see him, her father must be there, for
she knew his voice.”

Now, we have power to see and to hear, and we have power to believe. It is
all folly for the inquirers to take the ground that they cannot believe. They
can, if they will. But the trouble with most people is that they have
connected feeling with believing. Now Feeling has nothing whatever to do
with Believing. The Bible does not say–He that feeleth, or he that feeleth
and believeth, hath everlasting life. Nothing of the kind. I cannot control
my feelings. If I could, I should never feel ill, or have a headache or
toothache. I should be well all the while. But I can believe God; and if we
get our feet on that rock, let doubts and fears come and the waves surge
around us, the anchor will hold.

Some people are all the time looking at their faith. Faith is the hand that
takes the blessing. I heard this illustration of a beggar. Suppose you were to
meet a man in the street whom you had known for years as being
accustomed to beg; and you offered him some money, and he were to say to
you: “I thank you; I don’t want your money: I am not a beggar.” “How is
that?” “Last night a man put a thousand dollars into my hands.” “He did!
How did you know it was good money?” “I took it to the bank and
deposited it and have got a bank book.” “How did you get this gift?” “I
asked for alms; and after the gentleman talked with me he took out a
thousand dollars in money and put it in my hand.” “How do you know that
he put it in the right hand?” “What do I care about which hand; so that I
have got the money.” Many people are always thinking whether the faith by

CHAPTER III.

which they lay hold of Christ is the right kind–but what is far more
essential is to see that we have the right kind of Christ.

Faith is the eye of the soul; and who would ever think of taking out an eye
to see if it were the right kind so long as the sight was perfect? It is not my
taste, but it is what I taste, that satisfies my appetite. So, dear friends, it is
taking God at His Word that is the means of our salvation. The truth cannot
be made too simple.

There is a man living in the city of New York who has a home on the
Hudson River. His daughter and her family went to spend the winter with
him: and in the course of the season the scarlet fever broke out. One little
girl was put in quarantine, to be kept separate from the rest. Every morning
the old grandfather used to go and bid his grandchild, “Goodbye,” before
going to his business. On one of these occasions the little thing took the old
man by the hand, and, leading him to a corner of the room, without saying a
word she pointed to the floor where she had arranged some small crackers
so they would spell out, “Grandpa, I want a box of paints.” He said nothing.
On his return home he hung up his overcoat and went to the room as usual:
when his little grandchild, without looking to see if her wish had been
complied with, took him into the same corner, where he saw spelled out in
the same way, “Grandpa, I thank you for the box of paints.” The old man
would not have missed gratifying the child for anything. That was faith.

Faith is taking God at His Word; and those people who want some token
are always getting into trouble. We want to come to this: God says it–let us
believe it.

But some say, Faith is the gift of God. So is the air; but you have to breathe
it. So is bread; but you have to eat it. So is water; but you have to drink it.
Some are wanting a miraculous kind of feeling. That is not faith. “Faith
cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. x. 17). That is
whence faith comes. It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come
stealing over me with a strange sensation; but it is for me to take God at His
Word. And you cannot believe, unless you have something to believe. So
take the Word as it is written, and appropriate it, and lay hold of it.

CHAPTER III.

In John vi. 47, 48 we read: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth
on Me hath everlasting life. I am that Bread of life.” There is the bread right
at hand. Partake of it. I might have thousands of loaves within my home,
and as many hungry men in waiting. They might assent to the fact that the
bread was there; but unless they each took a loaf and commenced eating,
their hunger would not be satisfied. So Christ is the Bread of heaven; and as
the body feeds on natural food, so the soul must feed on Christ.

If a drowning man sees a rope thrown out to rescue him he must lay hold of
it; and in order to do so he must let go everything else. If a man is sick he
must take the medicine–for simply looking at it will not cure him. A
knowledge of Christ will not help the inquirer, unless he believes in Him,
and takes hold of Him, as his only hope. The bitten Israelites might have
believed that the serpent was lifted up; but unless they had looked they
would not have lived (Num. xxi. 6-9).

I believe that a certain line of steamers will convey me across the ocean,
because I have tried it: but this will not help another man who may want to
go, unless he acts upon my knowledge. So a knowledge of Christ does not
help us unless we act upon it. That is what it is to believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ. It is to act on what we believe. As a man steps on board a steamer to
cross the Atlantic, so we must take Christ and make a commitment of our
souls to Him; and He has promised to keep all who put their trust in Him.
To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, is simply to take Him at His word.

CHAPTER IV.

CHAPTER IV.

WORDS OF COUNSEL.

“A bruised reed shall He not break.”–Isaiah xlii. 3; Matt. xii. 20.

It is dangerous for those who are seeking salvation to lean upon the
experience of other people. Many are waiting for a repetition of the
experience of their grandfather or grandmother. I had a friend who was
converted in a field; and he thinks the whole town ought to go down into
that meadow and be converted. Another was converted under a bridge; and
he thinks that if any enquirer were to go there he would find the Lord. The
best thing for the anxious is to go right to the Word of God. If there are any
persons in the world to whom the Word ought to be very precious it is those
who are asking how to be saved.

For instance a man may say, “I have no strength.” Let him turn to Romans

v. 6. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for
the ungodly.” It is because we have no strength that we need Christ. He has
come to give strength to the weak.
Another may say, “I cannot see.” Christ says, “I am the Light of the world”
(John viii. 12). He came, not only to give light, but “to open the blind eyes”
(Isa. xlii. 7).

Another may say, “I do not think a man can be saved all at once.” A person
holding that view was in the Enquiry-room one night; and I drew his
attention to Romans vi. 23. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” How long does it take to
accept a gift? There must be a moment when you have it not, and another
when you have it–a moment when it is another’s, and the next when it is
yours. It does not take six months to get eternal life. It may however in
some cases be like the mustard seed, very small at the commencement.
Some people are converted so gradually that, like the morning light, it is
impossible to tell when the dawn began; while, with others, it is like the
flashing of a meteor, and the truth bursts upon them suddenly.

CHAPTER IV.

I would not go across the street to prove when I was converted; but what is
important is for me to know that I really have been.

It may be that a child has been so carefully trained that it is impossible to
tell when the new birth began; but there must have been a moment when
the change took place, and when he became a partaker of the Divine nature.

Some people do not believe in sudden conversion. But I will challenge any
one to show a conversion in the New Testament that was not instantaneous.
“As Jesus passed by He saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the receipt
of custom, and said unto him, ‘Follow Me’: and he arose and followed Him”
(Matt. ix. 9). Nothing could be more sudden than that.

Zaccheus, the publican, sought to see Jesus; and because he was little of
stature he climbed up a tree. When Jesus came to the place He looked up
and saw him, and said, “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down” (Luke xix.
5). His conversion must have taken place somewhere between the branch
and the ground. We are told that he received Jesus joyfully, and said,
“Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken
anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke

xix. 8). Very few in these days could say that in proof of their conversion.
The whole house of Cornelius was converted suddenly; for so Peter
preached Christ to him and his company the Holy Ghost fell on them, and
they were baptized. (Acts x.)

On the day of Pentecost three thousand gladly received the Word. They
were not only converted, but they were baptized the same day. (Acts ii.)

And when Philip talked to the eunuch, as they went on their way, the
eunuch said to Philip, “See, here is water: what doth hinder me to be
baptized?” Nothing hindered. And Philip said, “If thou believest with all
thine heart, thou mayest.” And they both went down into the water; and the
man of great authority under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, was
baptized, and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts viii. 26-38.) You will find
all through Scripture that conversions were sudden and instantaneous.

CHAPTER IV.

A man has been in the habit of stealing money from his employer. Suppose
he has taken $1,000 in twelve months; should we tell him to take $500 the
next year, and less the next year, and the next, until in five years the sum
taken would be only $50? That would be upon the same principle as
gradual conversion.

If such a person were brought before the court and pardoned, because he
could not change his mode of life all at once, it would be considered a very
strange proceeding.

But the Bible says, “Let him that stole steal no more” (Eph. iv. 28). It is
“right about face!” Suppose a person is in the habit of cursing one hundred
times a day: should we advise him not to utter more than ninety oaths the
following day, and eighty the next day; so that in the course of time he
would get rid of the habit? The Saviour says, “Swear not at all.” (Matt. v.
34.)

Suppose another man is in the habit of getting drunk and beating his wife
twice a month; if he only did so once a month, and then only once in six
months, that would be, upon the same ground, as reasonable as gradual
conversion. Suppose Ananias had been sent to Paul, when he was on his
way to Damascus breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the
disciples, and casting them into prison, to tell him not to kill so many as he
intended; and to let enmity die out of his heart gradually, but not all at once.
Suppose he had been told that it would not do to stop breathing out
threatenings and slaughter, and to commence preaching Christ all at once,
because the philosophers would say that the change was so sudden it would
not hold out; this would be the same kind of reasoning as is used by those
who do not believe in instantaneous conversion.

Then another class say that they are afraid that they will not hold out. This
is a numerous and very hopeful class. I like to see a man distrust himself. It
is a good thing to get such to look to God, and to remember that it is not he
who holds God, but that it is God who holds him. Some want to get hold of
Christ; but the thing is to get Christ to take hold of you in answer to prayer.
Let such read Psalm cxxi.; “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from

CHAPTER IV.

whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made
heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth
thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber
nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right
hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord
shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall
preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth, and even for
evermore.”

Some one calls that the traveler’s psalm. It is a beautiful psalm for those of
us who are pilgrims through this world; and one with which we should be
well acquainted.

God can do what He has done before. He kept Joseph in Egypt; Moses
before Pharaoh; Daniel in Babylon; and enabled Elijah to stand before
Ahab in that dark day. And I am so thankful that these I have mentioned
were men of like passions with ourselves. It was God who made them so
great. What man wants is to look to God. Real true faith is man’s weakness
leaning on God’s strength. When man has no strength, if he leans on God he
becomes powerful. The trouble is that we have too much strength and
confidence in ourselves.

Again in Hebrews vi. 17, 18: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to
show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed
it by an oath that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for
God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to
lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of
the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the
vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high
priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Now these are precious verses to those who are afraid of falling, who fear
that they will not hold out. It is God’s work to hold. It is the Shepherd’s
business to keep the sheep. Who ever heard of the sheep going to bring
back the shepherd? People have an idea that they have to keep themselves
and Christ too. It is a false idea. It is the work of the Shepherd to look after

CHAPTER IV.

them, and to take care of those who trust Him. And He has promised to do
it. I once heard that when a sea captain was dying he said, “Glory to God;
the anchor holds.” He trusted in Christ. His anchor had taken hold of the
solid rock. An Irishman said, on one occasion, that “he trembled; but the
Rock never did.” We want to get sure footing.

In 2 Timothy i. 12 Paul says: “I know whom I have believed, and am
persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him
against that day.” That was Paul’s persuasion.

During the late war of the rebellion, one of the chaplains, going through the
hospitals, came to a man who was dying. Finding that he was a Christian,
he asked to what persuasion he belonged, and was told “Paul’s persuasion.”
“Is he a Methodist?” he asked; for the Methodists all claim Paul. “No.” “Is
he a Presbyterian?” for the Presbyterians lay special claim to Paul. “No,”
was the answer. “Does he belong to the Episcopal Church?” for all the
Episcopalian brethren contend that they have a claim to the Chief Apostle.
“No,” he was not an Episcopalian. “Then, to what persuasion does he
belong?” “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have
committed unto Him against that day.” It is a grand persuasion; and it gave
the dying soldier rest in a dying hour.

Let those who fear that they will not hold out turn to the 24th verse of the
Epistle of Jude: “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to
present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

Then look at Isaiah xli. 10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not
dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”

Then see verse 13: “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying
unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”

Now if God has got hold of my right hand in His, cannot He hold me and
keep me? Has not God the power to keep? The great God who made heaven
and earth can keep a poor sinner like you and like me if we trust Him. To

CHAPTER IV.

refrain from feeling confidence in God for fear of falling–would be like a
man who refused a pardon, for fear that he should get into prison again; or
a drowning man who refused to be rescued, for fear of falling into the water
again.

Many men look forth at the Christian life, and fear that they will not have
sufficient strength to hold out to the end. They forget the promise that “as
thy days, thy strength” (Deut. xxxiii. 25). It reminds me of the pendulum to
the clock which grew disheartened at the thought of having to travel so
many thousands of miles; but when it reflected that the distance was to be
accomplished by “tick, tick, tick,” it took fresh courage to go its daily
journey. So it is the special privilege of the Christian to commit himself to
the keeping of his heavenly Father and to trust Him day by day. It is a
comforting thing to know that the Lord will not begin the good work
without also finishing it.

There are two kinds of sceptics–one class with honest difficulties; and
another class who delight only in discussion. I used to think that this latter
class would always be a thorn in my flesh; but they do not prick me now. I
expect to find them right along the journey. Men of this stamp used to hang
around Christ to entangle Him in His talk. They come into our meetings to
hold a discussion. To all such I would commend Paul’s advice to Timothy:
“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid; knowing that they do gender
strifes.” (2 Tim. ii. 23.) Unlearned questions: Many young converts make a
woful mistake. They think they are to defend the whole Bible. I knew very
little of the Bible when I was first converted; and I thought that I had to
defend it from beginning to end against all comers; but a Boston infidel got
hold of me, floored all my arguments at once, and discouraged me. But I
have got over that now. There are many things in the Word of God that I do
not profess to understand.

When I am asked what I do with them. I say, “I don’t do anything.”

“How do you explain them?” “I don’t explain them.”

“What do you do with them?” “Why, I believe them.”

CHAPTER IV.

And when I am told, “I would not believe anything that I do not
understand,” I simply reply that I do.

There are many things which were dark and mysterious five years ago, on
which I have since had a flood of light; and I expect to be finding out
something fresh about God throughout eternity. I make a point of not
discussing disputed passages of Scripture. An old divine has said that some
people, if they want to eat fish, commence by picking the bones. I leave
such things till I have light on them. I am not bound to explain what I do
not comprehend. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but
those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children, for
ever” (Deut. xxii. 29); and these I take, and eat, and feed upon, in order to
get spiritual strength.

Than there is a little sound advice in Titus iii. 9. “But avoid foolish
questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law;
for they are unprofitable and vain.”

But now here comes an honest sceptic. With him I would deal as tenderly
as a mother with her sick child. I have no sympathy with those people who,
because a man is sceptical, cast him off and will have nothing to do with
him.

I was in an Inquiry-meeting, some time ago, and I handed over to a
Christian lady, whom I had known some time, one who was sceptical. On
looking round soon after I noticed the enquirer marching out of the hall. I
asked, “Why have you let her go?” “Oh, she is a sceptic!” was the reply. I
ran to the door and got her to stop, and introduced her to another Christian
worker who spent over an hour in conversation and prayer with her. He
visited her and her husband; and, in the course of a week, that intelligent
lady cast off her scepticism and came out an active Christian. It took time,
tact, and prayer; but if a person of this class is honest we ought to deal with
such an one as the Master would have us.

Here are a few passages for doubting enquirers:

CHAPTER IV.

“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of
God, or whether I speak of myself” (John vii. 17). If a man is not willing to
do the will of God he will not know the doctrine. There is no class of
sceptics who are ignorant of the fact that God desires them to give up sin;
and if a man is willing to turn from sin and take the light and thank Him for
what He does give, and not expect to have light on the whole Bible all at
once, he will get more light day by day; make progress step by step; and be
led right out of darkness into the clear light of heaven.

In Daniel xii. 10 we are told: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and
tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall
understand; but the wise shall understand.”

Now God will never reveal His secrets to His enemies. Never! And if a
man persists in living in sin he will not know the doctrines of God.

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them
His covenant” (Ps. xxv. 14).

And in John xv. 15 we read: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the
servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for
all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
When you become friends of Christ you will know His secrets. The Lord
said, “Shall I hide from Abraham the things which I do?” (Gen. xviii. 17).

Now those who resemble God are the most likely to understand God. If a
man is not willing to turn from sin he will not know God’s will, nor will
God reveal His secrets to him. But if a man is willing to turn from sin he
will be surprised to see how the light will come in!

I remember one night when the Bible was the driest and darkest book in the
universe to me. The next day it became entirely different. I thought I had
the key to it. I had been born of the Spirit. But before I knew anything of
the mind of God I had to give up my sin. I believe God meets every soul on
the spot of self-surrender; and when they are willing to let Him guide and
lead. The trouble with many sceptics is their self-conceit. They know more

CHAPTER IV.

than the Almighty! and they do not come in a teachable spirit. But the
moment a man comes in a receptive spirit he is blessed; for “If any of you
lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James i. 5).

CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER V.

A DIVINE SAVIOUR.

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

(Matthew xvi. 1; John vi. 69.)

We meet with a certain class of Enquirers who do not believe in the
Divinity of Christ. There are many passages that will give light on this
subject.

In 1 Corinthians xv. 47, we are told: “The first man is of the earth earthy:
the second man is the Lord from heaven.”

In 1 John v. 20: “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us
an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him
that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal
life.”

Again in John xvii. 3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee,
the only true God; and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”

And then, in Mark xiv. 60: “The high priest stood up in the midst, and
asked Jesus, saying, Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these
witness against thee? But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again
the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son
of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man
sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further
witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all
condemned Him to be guilty of death.”

Now what brought me to believe in the Divinity of Christ was this: I did not
know where to place Christ, or what to do with Him, if He were not divine.
When I was a boy I thought that He was a good man like Moses, Joseph, or

CHAPTER V.

Abraham. I even thought that He was the best man who had ever lived on
the earth. But I found that Christ had a higher claim. He claimed to be
God-Man, to be divine; to have come from heaven. He said: “Before
Abraham was I am” (John viii. 58). I could not understand this; and I was
driven to the conclusion–and I challenge any candid man to deny the
inference, or meet the argument–that Jesus Christ is either an impostor or
deceiver, or He is the God-Man–God manifest in the flesh. And for these
reasons. The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before
Me” (Exod. xx. 2). Look at the millions throughout Christendom who
worship Jesus Christ as God. If Christ be not God this is idolatry. We are
all guilty of breaking the first commandment if Jesus Christ were mere
man–if He were a created being, and not what He claims to be.

Some people, who do not admit His divinity, say that He was the best man
who ever lived; but if He were not Divine, for that very reason He ought
not to be reckoned a good man, for He laid claim to an honor and dignity to
which these very people declare He had no right or title. That would rank
Him as a deceiver.

Others say that He thought He was divine, but that He was deceived. As if
Jesus Christ were carried away by a delusion and deception, and thought
that He was more than He was! I could not conceive of a lower idea of
Jesus Christ than that. This would not only make Him out an impostor; but
that He was out of His mind, and that He did not know who He was, or
where He came from. Now if Jesus Christ was not what He claimed to be,
the Saviour of the world; and if He did not come from heaven, He was a
gross deceiver.

But how can any one read the life of Jesus Christ and make Him out a
deceiver? A man has generally some motive for being an impostor. What
was Christ’s motive? He knew that the course He was pursuing would
conduct Him to the cross; that His name would be cast out as vile; and that
many of His followers would be called upon to lay down their lives for His
sake. Nearly every one of the apostles were martyrs; and they were
considered as off-scouring and refuse in the midst of the people. If a man is
an impostor, he has a motive at the back of his hypocrisy. But what was

CHAPTER V.

Christ’s object? The record is that “He went about doing good.” This is not
the work of an impostor. Do not let the enemy of your soul deceive you.

In John v. 21 we read: “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and
quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father
judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men
should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not
the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.”

Now notice: by the Jewish law if a man were a blasphemer he was to be put
to death; and supposing Christ to be merely human if this be not blasphemy
I do not know where you will find it. “He that honoureth not the Son,
honoureth not the Father.” That is downright blasphemy if Christ be not
divine. If Moses, or Elijah, or Elisha, or any other mortal had said, “You
must honour me as you honor God;” and had put himself on a level with
God, it would have been downright blasphemy.

The Jews put Christ to death because they said that He was not what He
claimed to be. It was on that testimony He was put under oath. The high
priest said: “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether
Thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. xxvi. 63). And when the Jews
came round Him and said, “How long dost Thou make us to doubt? If Thou
be the Christ tell us plainly.” Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.” Then
the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. (John x. 24-33.) They said they
did not want to hear more, for that was blasphemy. It was for declaring
Himself to be the Son of God that He was condemned and put to death.
(Matt. xxvi. 63-66).

Now if Jesus Christ were mere man the Jews did right, according to their
law, in putting Him to death. In Leviticus xxiv. 16, we read: “And he that
blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all
the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is
born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to
death.”

CHAPTER V.

This law obliged them to put to death every one who blasphemed. It was
making the statement that He was divine that cost Him His life; and by the
Mosaic law He ought to have suffered the death penalty. In John xvi. 15,
Christ says, “All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that
He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” How could He be
merely a good man and use language as that?

No doubt has ever entered my mind on the point since I was converted.

A notorious sinner was once asked how he could prove the divinity of
Christ. His answer was, “Why, He has saved me; and that is a pretty good
proof, is it not?”

An infidel on one occasion said to me, “I have been studying the life of
John the Baptist, Mr. Moody. Why don’t you preach him? He was a greater
character than Christ. You would do a greater work.” I said to him, “My
friend, you preach John the Baptist; and I will follow you and preach
Christ: and we will see who will do the most good.” “You will do the most
good,” he said, “because the people are so superstitious.” Ah! John was
beheaded; and his disciples begged his body and buried it: but Christ has
risen from the dead; He has “ascended on high; He has led captivity
captive; and received gifts for men.” (Ps. lxviii. 18.)

Our Christ lives. Many people have not found out that Christ has risen from
the grave. They worship a dead Saviour, like Mary, who said, “They have
taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid Him.” (John xx.
13.) That is the trouble with those who doubt the divinity of our Lord.

Then look at Matthew xviii. 20. “Where two or three are gathered together
in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” “There am I.” Well now, if
He is a mere man, how can He be there? All these are strong passages.

Again in Matthew xxviii. 18. “And Jesus came and spake unto them,
saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” Could He be a
mere man and talk in that way? “All power is given unto Me in heaven and
in earth!”

CHAPTER V.

Then again in Matthew xxviii. 20. “Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world.” If He were mere man, how could He be with us?
Yet He says, “I am with you away, even unto the end of the world!”

Then again in Mark ii. 7. “Why doth this Man thus speak blasphemies? who
can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in
His Spirit that they reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why
reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick
of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and take up thy bed
and walk?”

Some men will meet you and say, “Did not Elisha also raise the dead?”
Notice that in the rare instances in which men have raised the dead, they
did it by the power of God. They called on God to do it. But when Christ
was on earth He did not call upon the Father to bring the dead to life, When
He went to the house of Jairus He said, “Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise.”
(Mark v. 41.)

He had power to impart life. When they were carrying the young man out
of Nain He had compassion on the widowed mother and came and touched
the bier and said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” (Luke vii. 14.)

He spake; and the dead arose.

And when He raised Lazarus He called with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come
forth!” (John xi. 43.) And Lazarus heard, and came forth.

Some one has said, It was a good thing that Lazarus was mentioned by
name, or all the dead within the sound of Christ’s voice would immediately
have risen.

In John v. 25, Jesus says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is
coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God;
and they that hear shall live.” What blasphemy would this have been, had
He not been divine! The proof is overwhelming, if you will but examine the

CHAPTER V.

Word of God.

And then another thing–no good man except Jesus Christ has ever allowed
anybody to worship him. When this was done He never rebuked the
worshiper. In John ix. 38, we read that when the blind man was found by
Christ he said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him.” The Lord did not
rebuke him.

Then again, Revelation xxii. 6, runs thus: “And he said unto me, These
things are faithful and true; and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His
angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done.
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the
prophecy of this book. And I John saw these things and heard them. And
when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the
angel which showed me these things. Then saith He unto me, See thou do it
not; for I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren the prophets, and of
them which keep the sayings of this book, worship God.”

We see here that even that angel would not allow John to worship him.
Even an angel from heaven! And if Gabriel came down here from the
presence of God it would be a sin to worship him, or any seraph, or any
cherub, or Michael, or any archangel.

“Worship God!” And if Jesus Christ were not God manifest in the flesh we
are guilty of idolatry in worshiping Him. In Matthew xiv. 33, we read:
“Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, Of a
truth Thou art the Son of God.” He did not rebuke them.

And in Matthew viii. 2, we also read: “And, behold, there came a leper and
worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

In Matthew xv. 25: “Then came she, and worshiped Him, saying, Lord,
help me!”

There are many other passages; but I give these as sufficient in my opinion
to prove beyond any doubt the Divinity of our Lord.

CHAPTER V.

In the 14th chapter of Acts we are told the heathen at Lystra came with
garlands and would have done sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas because they
had cured an impotent man; but the evangelists rent their clothes and told
these Lystrans that they were but men, and not to be worshipped; as if it
were a great sin. And if Jesus Christ is a mere man, we are all guilty of a
great sin in worshipping Him.

But if He is, as we believe, the only-begotten and well-beloved Son of God,
let us yield to His claims upon us; let us rest on His all-atoning work, and
go forth to serve Him all the days of our life.

CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VI.

REPENTANCE AND RESTITUTION.

“God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”–Acts xvii. 30.

Repentance is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Yet I believe
it is one of those truths that many people little understand at the present
day. There are more people to-day in the mist and darkness about
Repentance, Regeneration, the Atonement, and such-like fundamental
truths, than perhaps on any other doctrines. Yet from our earliest years we
have heard about them. If I were to ask for a definition of Repentance, a
great many would give a very strange and false idea of it.

A man is not prepared to believe or to receive the Gospel, unless he is
ready to repent of his sins and turn from them. Until John the Baptist met
Christ, he had but one text, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand” (Matt. iii. 2). But if he had continued to say this, and had stopped
there without pointing the people to Christ the Lamb of God, he would not
have accomplished much.

When Christ came, He took up the same wilderness cry, “Repent; for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. iv. 17). And when our Lord sent out
His disciples, it was with the same message, “that men should repent”
(Mark vi. 12). After He had been glorified, and when the Holy Ghost came
down, we find Peter on the day of Pentecost raising the same cry, “Repent!”
It was this preaching–Repent, and believe the Gospel–that wrought such
marvellous results then. (Acts ii. 38-47). And we find that, when Paul went
to Athens, he uttered the same cry, “Now God commandeth all men,
everywhere, to repent” (Acts xvii. 30).

Before I speak of what Repentance is, let me briefly say what it is not.
Repentance is not fear. Many people have confounded the two. They think
they have to be alarmed and terrified; and they are waiting for some kind of
fear to come down upon them. But multitudes become alarmed who do not
really repent. You have heard of men at sea during a terrible storm. Perhaps

CHAPTER VI.

they have been very profane men; but when the danger came they suddenly
grew quiet, and began to cry to God for mercy. Yet you would not say they
repented. When the storm had passed away, they went on swearing the
same as before. You might think that the king of Egypt repented when God
sent the terrible plagues upon him and his land. But it was not repentance at
all. The moment God’s hand was removed Pharaoh’s heart was harder than
ever. He did not turn from a single sin; he was the same man. So that there
was no true repentance there.

Often, when death comes into a family, it looks as if the event would be
sanctified to the conversion of all who are in the house. Yet in six months’
time all may be forgotten. Some who read this have perhaps passed through
that experience. When God’s hand was heavy upon them it looked as if they
were going to repent; but the trial has been removed–and lo and behold, the
impression has all gone.

Then again, Repentance is not feeling. I find a great many people are
waiting for a certain kind of feeling to come. They would like to turn to
God; but think they cannot do it until this feeling comes. When I was in
Baltimore I used to preach every Sunday in the Penitentiary to nine
hundred convicts. There was hardly a man there who did not feel miserable
enough: they had plenty of feeling. For the first week or ten days of their
imprisonment many of them cried half the time. Yet, when they were
released, most of them would go right back to their old ways. The truth
was, that they felt very bad because they had got caught; that was all. So
you have seen a man in the time of trial show a good deal of feeling: but
very often it is only because he has got into trouble; not because he has
committed sin, or because his conscience tells him he has done evil in the
sight of God. It seems as if the trial were going to result in true repentance;
but the feeling too often passes away.

Once again, Repentance is not fasting and afflicting the body. A man may
fast for weeks and months and years, and yet not repent of one sin. Neither
is it remorse. Judas had terrible remorse–enough to make him go and hang
himself; but that was not repentance. I believe if he had gone to his Lord,
fallen on his face, and confessed his sin, he would have been forgiven.

CHAPTER VI.

Instead of this he went to the priests, and then put an end to his life. A man
may do all sorts of penance–but there is no true repentance in that. Put that
down in your mind. You cannot meet the claims of God by offering the
fruit of your body for the sin of your soul. Away with such a delusion!

Repentance is not conviction of sin. That may sound strange to some. I have
seen men under such deep conviction of sin that they could not sleep at
night; they could not enjoy a single meal. They went on for months in this
state; and yet they were not converted; they did not truly repent. Do not
confound conviction of sin with Repentance.

Neither is praying–Repentance. That too may sound strange. Many people,
when they become anxious about their soul’s salvation, say, “I will pray,
and read the Bible;” and they think that will bring about the desired effect.
But it will not do it. You may read the Bible and cry to God a great deal,
and yet never repent. Many people cry loudly to God, and yet do not repent.

Another thing: it is not breaking off some one sin. A great many people
make that mistake. A man who has been a drunkard signs the pledge, and
stops drinking. Breaking off one sin is not Repentance. Forsaking one vice
is like breaking off one limb of a tree, when the whole tree has to come
down. A profane man stops swearing; very good: but if he does not break
off from every sin it is not Repentance–it is not the work of God in the
soul. When God works He hews down the whole tree. He wants to have a
man turn from every sin. Supposing I am in a vessel out at sea, and I find
the ship leaks in three or four places. I may go and stop up one hole; yet
down goes the vessel. Or suppose I am wounded in three or four places,
and I get a remedy for one wound: if the other two or three wounds are
neglected, my life will soon be gone. True Repentance is not merely
breaking off this or that particular sin.

Well then, you will ask, what is Repentance? I will give you a good
definition: it is “right about face!” In the Irish language the word
“Repentance” means even more than “right about face!” It implies that a
man who has been walking in one direction has not only faced about, but is
actually walking in an exactly contrary direction. “Turn ye, turn ye; for why

CHAPTER VI.

will ye die?” A man may have little feeling or much feeling; but if he does
not turn away from sin, God will not have mercy on him. Repentance has
also been described as “a change of mind.” For instance, there is the parable
told by Christ: “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and
said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not”
(Matt. xxi. 28, 29). After he had said “I will not” he thought over it, and
changed his mind. Perhaps he may have said to himself, “I did not speak
very respectfully to my father. He asked me to go and work, and I told him
I would not go. I think I was wrong.” But suppose he had only said this, and
still had not gone, he would not have repented. He was not only convinced
that he was wrong; but he went off into the fields, hoeing, or mowing or
whatever it was. That is Christ’s definition of repentance. If a man says,
“By the grace of God I will forsake my sin, and do His will,” that is
Repentance–a turning right about.

Some one has said, man is born with his face turned away from God. When
he truly repents he is turned right around towards God; he leaves his old
life.

Can a man at once repent? Certainly he can. It does not take a long while to
turn around. It does not take a man six months to change his mind. There
was a vessel that went down some time ago on the Newfoundland coast. As
she was bearing towards the shore, there was a moment when the captain
could have given orders to reverse the engines and turn back. If the engines
had been reversed then, the ship would have been saved. But there was a
moment when it was too late. So there is a moment, I believe, in every
man’s life when he can halt and say, “By the grace of God I will go no
further towards death and ruin. I repent of my sins and turn from them.”
You may say you have not got feeling enough; but if you are convinced
that you are on the wrong road, turn right about, and say, “I will no longer
go on in the way of rebellion and sin as I have done.”

Just then, when you are willing to turn towards God, salvation may be
yours.

CHAPTER VI.

I find that every case of conversion recorded in the Bible was
instantaneous. Repentance and faith came very suddenly. The moment a
man made up his mind, God gave him the power. God does not ask any
man to do what he has not the power to do. He would not command “all
men everywhere to repent” (Acts xvii. 30) if they were not able to do so.
Man has no one to blame but himself if he does not repent and believe the
Gospel. One of the leading ministers of the Gospel in Ohio wrote me a
letter some time ago describing his conversion; it very forcibly illustrates
this point of instantaneous decision. He said:

“I was nineteen years old, and was reading law with a Christian lawyer in
Vermont. One afternoon when he was away from home, his good wife said
to me as I came into the house, ‘I want you to go to class-meeting with me
to-night and become a Christian, so that you can conduct family worship
while my husband is away.’ ‘Well, I’ll do it,’ I said, without any thought.
When I came into the house again she asked me if I was honest in what I
had said. I replied, ‘Yes, so far as going to meeting with you is concerned;
that is only courteous.’

“I went with her to the class-meeting, as I had often done before. About a
dozen persons were present in a little school-house. The leader had spoken
to all in the room but myself and two others. He was speaking to the person
next me, when the thought occurred to me: he will ask me if I have
anything to say. I said to myself: I have decided to be a Christian sometime;
why not begin now? In less time than a minute after these thoughts had
passed through my mind he said, speaking to me familiarly–for he knew
me very well–‘Brother Charles, have you anything to say?’ I replied, with
perfect coolness, ‘Yes, sir. I have just decided, within the last thirty
seconds, that I will begin a Christian life, and would like to have you pray
for me.’

“My coolness staggered him; I think he almost doubted my sincerity. He
said very little, but passed on and spoke to the other two. After a few
general remarks, he turned to me and said, ‘Brother Charles, will you close
the meeting with prayer?’ He knew I had never prayed in public. Up to this
moment I had no feeling. It was purely a business transaction. My first

CHAPTER VI.

thought was: I cannot pray, and I will ask him to excuse me. My second
was: I have said I will begin a Christian life; and this is a part of it. So I
said, ‘Let us pray.’ And somewhere between the time I started to kneel and
the time my knees struck the floor the Lord converted my soul.

“The first words I said were, ‘Glory to God!’ What I said after that I do not
know, and it does not matter, for my soul was too full to say much but
Glory! From that hour the devil has never dared to challenge my
conversion. To Christ be all the praise.”

Many people are waiting, they cannot exactly tell for what, but for some
sort of miraculous feeling to come stealing over them–some mysterious
kind of faith. I was speaking to a man some years ago, and he always had
one answer to give me. For five years I tried to win him to Christ, and
every year he said, “It has not ‘struck me’ yet.” “Man, what do you mean?
What has not struck you?” “Well,” he said, “I am not going to become a
Christian until it strikes me; and it has not struck me yet. I do not see it in
the way you see it.” “But don’t you know you are a sinner?” “Yes, I know I
am a sinner.” “Well, don’t you know that God wants to have mercy on
you–that there is forgiveness with God? He wants you to repent and come
to Him.” “Yes, I know that; but–it has not struck me yet.” He always fell
back on that. Poor man! he went down to his grave in a state of indecision.
Sixty long years God gave him to repent; and all he had to say at the end of
those years was that it “had not struck him yet.”

Is any reader waiting for some strange feeling–you do not know what?
Nowhere in the Bible is a man told to wait; God is commanding you now to
repent.

Do you think God can forgive a man when he does not want to be forgiven?
Would he be happy if God forgave him in this state of mind? Why, if a man
went into the kingdom of God without repentance, heaven would be hell to
him. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. If your boy has done
wrong, and will not repent, you cannot forgive him. You would be doing
him an injustice. Suppose he goes to your desk, and steals $10, and
squanders it. When you come home your servant tells you what your boy

CHAPTER VI.

has done. You ask if it is true, and he denies it. But at last you have certain
proof. Even when he finds he cannot deny it any longer, he will not confess
the sin, but says he will do it again the first chance he gets. Would you say
to him, “Well, I forgive you,” and leave the matter there? No! Yet people
say that God is going to save all men, whether they repent or
not–drunkards, thieves, harlots, whoremongers, it makes no difference.
“God is so merciful,” they say. Dear friend, do not be deceived by the god
of this world. Where there is true repentance and a turning from sin unto
God, He will meet and bless you; but He never blesses until there is sincere
repentance.

David made a woful mistake in this respect with his rebellious son,
Absalom. He could not have done his son a greater injustice than to forgive
him when his heart was unchanged. There could be no true reconciliation
between them when there was no repentance. But God does not make these
mistakes. David got into trouble on account of his error of judgment. His
son soon drove his father from the throne.

Speaking on repentance, Dr. Brooks, of St. Louis, well remarks:
“Repentance, strictly speaking, means a ‘change of mind or purpose;’
consequently it is the judgment which the sinner pronounces upon himself,
in view of the love of God displayed in the death of Christ, connected with
the abandonment of all confidence in himself and with trust in the only
Saviour of sinners. Saving repentance and saving faith always go together;
and you need not be worried about repentance if you will believe.”

“Some people are no sure that they have ‘repented enough.’ If you mean by
this that you must repent in order to incline God to be merciful to you, the
sooner you give over such repentance the better. God is already merciful, as
He has fully shown at the Cross of Calvary; and it is a grievous dishonor to
His heart of love if you think that your tears and anguish will move Him,
not knowing that ‘the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.’ It is not
your badness, therefore, but His goodness that leads to repentance; hence
the true way to repent is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who was
delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.'”

CHAPTER VI.

Another thing. If there is true repentance it will bring forth fruit. If we have
done wrong to any one we should never ask God to forgive us, until we are
willing to make restitution. If I have done any man a great injustice and can
make it good, I need not ask God to forgive me until I am willing to make it
good. Suppose I have taken something that does not belong to me. I have
no right to expect forgiveness until I make restitution.

I remember preaching in one of our large cities, when a fine-looking man
came up to me at the close. He was in great distress of mind. “The fact is,”
he said, “I am a defaulter. I have taken money that belonged to my
employers. How can I become a Christian without restoring it?” “Have you
got the money?” He told me he had not got it all. He had taken about
$1,500, and he still had about $900. He said “Could I not take that money
and go into business, and make enough to pay them back?” I told him that
was a delusion of Satan; that he could not expect to prosper on stolen
money; that he should restore all he had, and go and ask his employers to
have mercy upon him and forgive him. “But they will put me in prison,” he
said: “cannot you give me any help?” “No, you must restore the money
before you can expect to get any help from God.” “It is pretty hard,” he
said. “Yes. it is hard; but the great mistake was in doing the wrong at first.”

His burden became so heavy that it got to be insupportable. He handed me
the money–950 dollars and some cents–and asked me to take it back to his
employers. The next evening the two employers and myself met in a side
room of the church. I laid the money down, and informed them it was from
one of their employes. I told them the story, and said he wanted mercy from
them, not justice. The tears trickled down the cheeks of these two men, and
they said, “Forgive him! Yes, we will be glad to forgive him.” I went down
stairs and brought him up. After he had confessed his guilt and been
forgiven, we all got down on our knees and had a blessed prayer-meeting.
God met us and blessed us there.

There was a friend of mine who some time ago had come to Christ and
wished to consecrate himself and his wealth to God. He had formerly had
transactions with the government, and had taken advantage of them. This
thing came up when he was converted, and his conscience troubled him. He

CHAPTER VI.

said, “I want to consecrate my wealth, but it seems as if God will not take
it.” He had a terrible struggle; his conscience kept rising up and smiting
him. At last he drew a check for $1,500 and sent it to the United States
Treasury. He told me he received such a blessing when he had done it. That
was bringing forth “fruits meet for repentance.” I believe a great many men
are crying to God for light; and they are not getting it because they are not
honest.

I was once preaching, and a man came to me who was only thirty-two years
old, but whose hair was very grey. He said, “I want you to notice that my
hair is grey, and I am only thirty-two years old. For twelve years I have
carried a great burden.” “Well,” I said, “what is it?” He looked around as if
afraid some one would hear him. “Well,” he answered, “my father died and
left my mother with the county newspaper, and left her only that: that was
all she had. After he died the paper begun to waste away; and I saw my
mother was fast sinking into a state of need. The building and the paper
were insured for a thousand dollars, and when I was twenty years old I set
fire to the building, and obtained the thousand dollars, and gave it to my
mother. For twelve years that sin has been haunting me. I have tried to
drown it by indulgence in pleasure and sin; I have cursed God; I have gone
into infidelity; I have tried to make out that the Bible is not true; I have
done everything I could: but all these years I have been tormented.” I said,
“There is a way out of that.” He inquired “How?” I said, “Make restitution.
Let us sit down and calculate the interest, and then you pay the Company
the money.” It would have done you good to see that man’s face light up
when he found there was mercy for him. He said he would be glad to pay
back the money and interest if he could only be forgiven.

There are men to-day who are in darkness and bondage because they are
not willing to turn from their sins and confess them; and I do not know how
a man can hope to be forgiven if he is not willing to confess his sins.

Bear in mind that now is the only day of mercy you will ever have. You can
repent now, and have the awful record blotted out. God waits to forgive
you; He is seeking to bring you to Himself. But I think the Bible teaches
clearly that there is no repentance after this life. There are some who tell

CHAPTER VI.

you of the possibility of repentance in the grave; but I do not find that in
Scripture. I have looked my Bible over very carefully, and I cannot find
that a man will have another opportunity of being saved.

Why should he ask for any more time? You have time enough to repent
now. You can turn from your sins this moment if you will. God says: “I
have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth; wherefore turn, and live ye”
(Ezek. xviii. 32).

Christ said, He “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Are you a sinner? Then the call to repent is addressed to you. Take your
place in the dust at the Saviour’s feet, and acknowledge your guilt. Say, like
the publican of old, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” and see how quickly
He will pardon and bless you. He will even justify you and reckon you as
righteous, by virtue of the righteousness of Him who bore your sins in His
own body on the Cross.

There are some perhaps who think themselves righteous; and that,
therefore, there is no need for them to repent and believe the Gospel. They
are like the Pharisee in the parable, who thanked God that he was not as
other men–“extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican;” and
who went on to say, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.”
What is the judgment about such self-righteous persons? “I tell you this
man [the poor, contrite, repenting publican] went down to his house
justified rather than the other” (Luke xviii. 11-14). “There is none
righteous; no, not one.” “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of
God” (Rom. iii. 10, 23). Let no one say he does not need to repent. Let each
one take his true place–that of a sinner; then God will lift him up to the
place of forgiveness and justification. “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be
abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke xiv. 11).

Wherever God sees true repentance in the heart He meets that soul.

I was in Colorado, preaching the gospel some time ago, and I heard
something that touched my heart very much. The governor of the State was
passing through the prison, and in one cell he found a boy who had his

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window full of flowers, that seemed to have been watched with very tender
care. The governor looked at the prisoner, and then at the flowers, and
asked whose they were, “These are my flowers,” said the poor convict.
“Are you fond of flowers?” “Yes, sir.” “How long have you been here?” He
told him so many years: he was in for a long sentence. The governor was
surprised to find him so fond of the flowers, and he said, “Can you tell me
why you like these flowers so much?” With much emotion he replied,
“While my mother was alive she thought a good deal of flowers; and when
I came here I thought if I had these they would remind me of mother.” The
governor was so pleased that he said, “Well, young man, if you think so
much of your mother I think you will appreciate your liberty,” and he
pardoned him then and there.

When God finds that beautiful flower of true repentance springing up in a
man’s heart, then salvation comes to that man.

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CHAPTER VII.

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son
of God; that ye may knew that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe
on the name of the Son of God.”

(1 John v. 13. )

There are two classes who ought not to have Assurance. First: those who
are in the Church, but who are not converted, having never been born of the
Spirit. Second: those not willing to do God’s will; who are not ready to take
the place that God has mapped out for them, but want to fill some other
place.

Some one will ask “Have all God’s people Assurance?” No; I think a good
many of God’s dear people have no Assurance; but it is the privilege of
every child of God to have beyond doubt a knowledge of his own salvation.
No man is fit for God’s service who is filled with doubts. If a man is not
sure of his own salvation, how can he help any one else into the kingdom of
God? If I seem in danger of drowning and do not know whether I shall ever
reach the shore, I cannot assist another. I must first get on the solid rock
myself; and then I can lend my brother a helping hand. If being myself
blind I were to tell another blind man how to get sight, he might reply,
“First get healed yourself; and then you can tell me.” I recently met with a
young man who was a Christian: but he had not attained to victory over sin.
He was in terrible darkness. Such an one is not fit to work for God, because
he has besetting sins; and he has not the victory over his doubts, because he
has not the victory over his sins.

None will have time or heart to work for God, who are not assured as to
their own salvation. They have as much as they can attend to; and being
themselves burdened with doubts, they cannot help others to carry their
burdens. There is no rest, joy, or peace–no liberty, nor power–where
doubts and uncertainty exist.

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Now it seems as if there are three wiles of Satan against which we ought to
be on our guard. In the first place he moves all his kingdom to keep us
away from Christ; then he devotes himself to get us into “Doubting Castle:”
but if we have, in spite of him, a clear ringing witness for the Son of God,
he will do all he can to blacken our characters and belie our testimony.

Some seem to think that it is presumption not to have doubts; but doubt is
very dishonoring to God. If any one were to say that they had known a
person for thirty years and yet doubted him, it would not be very creditable;
and when we have known God for ten, twenty or thirty years does it not
reflect on His veracity to doubt Him.

Could Paul and the early Christians and martyrs have gone through what
they did if they had been filled with doubts, and had not known whether
they were going to heaven or to perdition after they had been burned at the
stake? They must have had Assurance.

Mr. Spurgeon says: “I never heard of a stork that when it met with a fir tree
demurred as to its right to build its nest there; and I never heard of a coney
yet that questioned whether it had a permit to run into the rock. Why, these
creatures would soon perish if they were always doubting and fearing as to
whether they had a right to use providential provisions.

“The stork says to himself, ‘Ah, here is a fir tree:’ he consults with his mate,
‘Will this do for the nest in which we may rear our young?’ ‘Aye,’ says she;
and they gather the materials, and arrange them. There is never any
deliberation, ‘May we build here?’ but they bring their sticks and make their
nest.

“The wild goat on the crag does not say, ‘Have I a right here?’ No, he must
be somewhere: and there is a crag which exactly suits him; and he springs
upon it.

“Yet, though these dumb creatures know the provision of their God, the
sinner does not recognize the provision of his Saviour. He quibbles and
questions, ‘May I?’ and am ‘I am afraid it is not for me;’ and ‘I think it

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cannot be meant for me;’ and ‘I am afraid it is too good to be true.’

“And yet nobody ever said to the stork, ‘Whosoever buildeth on this fir tree
shall never have his nest pulled down.’ No inspired word has ever said to
the coney, ‘Whosoever runs into this rock cleft shall never be driven out of
it.’ If it had been so it would make assurance doubly sure.”

“And yet here is Christ provided for sinners, just the sort of a Saviour
sinners need; and the encouragement is added, ‘Him that cometh unto Me I
will in no wise cast out;’ ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life
freely.'”

Now let us come to the Word. John tells us in his Gospel what Christ did
for us on earth. In his Epistle He tells us what He is doing for us in heaven
as our Advocate. In his Gospel there are only two chapters in which the
word “believe” does not occur. With these two exceptions, every chapter in
John is “Believe! Believe!! Believe!!!” He tells us in xx. 31, “But these are
written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and
that, believing, ye might have life through His name.” That is the purpose
for which he wrote the Gospel–“that we might believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God: and that, believing, we might have life through His
name” (John xx. 31).

Turn to 1 John v. 13, he there tells us why he wrote this Epistle: “These
things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Notice to whom he writes it “You that believe on the name of the Son of
God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on
the name of the Son of God.” There are only five short chapters in this first
Epistle, and the word “know” occurs over forty times. It is “Know! Know!!
KNOW!!!” The Key to it is Know! and all through the Epistle there rings
out the refrain–“that we might know that we have eternal life.”

I went twelve hundred miles down the Mississippi in the spring some years
ago; and every evening, just as the sun went down, you might have seen
men, and sometimes women, riding up to the banks of the river on either
side on mules or horses, and sometimes coming on foot, for the purpose of

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lighting up the Government lights; and all down that mighty river there
were landmarks which guided the pilots in their dangerous navigation. Now
God has given us lights or landmarks to tell us whether we are His children
or not; and what we need to do is to examine the tokens He has given us.

In the third chapter of John’s first Epistle there are five things worth
knowing.

In the fifth verse we read the first: “And ye know that He was manifested to
take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” Not what I have done, but what
HE has done. Has He failed in His mission? Is He not able to do what He
came for? Did ever any heaven-sent man fail yet? and could God’s own Son
fail? He was manifested to take away our sins.

Again, in the nineteenth verse, the second thing worth knowing: “And
hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before
Him.” We know that we are of the truth. And if the truth make us free, we
shall be free indeed. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be
free indeed.” (John viii. 36.)

The third thing worth knowing is in the fourteenth verse, “We know that we
have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” The
natural man does not like godly people, nor does he care to be in their
company. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” He has no
spiritual life.

The fourth thing worth knowing we find in verse twenty-four: “And he that
keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby
we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” We
can tell what kind of Spirit we have if we possess the Spirit of Christ–a
Christ-like spirit–not the same in degree, but the same in kind. If I am
meek, gentle, and forgiving; if I have a spirit filled with peace and joy; if I
am long-suffering and gentle, like the Son of God–that is a test: and in that
way we are to tell whether we have eternal life or not.

CHAPTER VII.

The fifth thing worth knowing, and the best of all, is “Beloved, now.”
Notice the word “Now.” It does not say when you come to die. “Beloved,
now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that, when He shall appear; we shall be like Him; for we shall
see Him as He is” (v. 2).

But some will say, “Well, I believe all that; but then I have sinned since I
became a Christian.” Is there a man or a woman on the face of the earth
who has not sinned since becoming a Christian? Not one! There never has
been, and never will be, a soul on this earth who has not sinned, or who will
not sin, at some time of their Christian experience. But God has made
provision for believers’ sins. We are not to make provision for them; but
God has. Bear that in mind.

Turn to 1 John ii. 1: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that
ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous.” He is here writing to the righteous. “If any man sin,
we”–John put himself in–“we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous.” What an Advocate! He attends to our interests at the
very best place–the throne of God. He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the
truth; it is expedient for you that I go away” (John xvi. 7). He went away to
become our High Priest, and also our Advocate. He has had some hard
cases to plead; but he has never lost one: and if you entrust your immortal
interests to Him, He will “present you faultless before the presence of His
glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

The past sins of Christians are all forgiven as soon as they are confessed;
and they are never to be mentioned. That is a question which is not to be
opened up again. If our sins have been put away, that is the end of them.
They are not to be remembered; and God will not mention them any more.
This is very plain. Suppose I have a son who, while I am from home, does
wrong. When I go home he throws his arms around my neck and says,
“Papa, I did what you told me not to do. I am very sorry. Do forgive me.” I
say: “Yes, my son,” and kiss him. He wipes away his tears, and goes off
rejoicing.

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But the next day he says: “Papa, I wish you would forgive me for the wrong
I did yesterday.” I should say: “Why, my son, that thing is settled; and I
don’t want it mentioned again.” “But I wish you would forgive me: it would
help me to hear you say, ‘I forgive you.'” Would that be honoring me?
Would it not grieve me to have my boy doubt me? But to gratify him I say
again, “I forgive you, my son.”

And if, the next day, he were again to bring up that old sin, and ask
forgiveness, would not that grieve me to the heart? And so, my dear reader,
if God has forgiven us, never let us mention the past. Let us forget those
things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before, and
press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
Jesus. Let the sins of the past go; for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
(1 John i. 9).

And let me say that this principle is recognized in courts of justice. A case
came up in the courts of a country–I won’t say where–in which a man had
had trouble with his wife; but he forgave her, and then afterwards brought
her into court. And, when it was known that he had forgiven her, the judge
said that the thing was settled. The judge recognized the soundness of the
principle, that if a sin were once forgiven there was an end of it. And do
you think the Judge of all the earth will forgive you and me, and open the
question again? Our sins are gone for time and eternity, if God forgives:
and what we have to do is to confess and forsake our sins.

Again in 2 Corinthians xiii. 5: “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the
faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus
Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Now examine yourselves. Try
your religion. Put it to the test. Can you forgive an enemy? That is a good
way to know if you are a child of God. Can you forgive an injury, or take
an affront, as Christ did? Can you be censured for doing well, and not
murmur? Can you be misjudged and misrepresented, and yet keep a
Christ-like spirit?

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Another good test is to read Galatians v., and notice the fruits of the Spirit;
and see if you have them. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such
there is no law.” If I have the fruits of the Spirit I must have the Spirit. I
could not have the fruits without the Spirit any more than there could be an
orange without the tree. And Christ says “Ye shall know them by their
fruits;” “for the tree is known by his fruits.” Make the tree good, and the
fruit will be good. The only way to get the fruit is to have the Spirit. That is
the way to examine ourselves whether we are the children of God.

Then there is another very striking passage. In Romans viii. 9, Paul says:
“Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” That
ought to settle the question, even though one may have gone through all the
external forms that are considered necessary by some to constitute a
member of a Church. Read Paul’s life, and put yours alongside of it. If your
life resembles his, it is a proof that you are born again–that you are a new
creature in Christ Jesus.

But although you may be born again, it will require time to become a
full-grown Christian. Justification is instantaneous; but sanctification is a
life-work. We are to grow in wisdom. Peter says “Grow in grace, and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. iii. 18); and in the
first chapter of his Second Epistle, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue
knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and
to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly
kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound they make you
that ye shall neither be barron nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord
Jesus Christ.” So that we are to add grace to grace. A tree may be perfect in
its first year of growth; but it does not attain its maturity. So with the
Christian: he may be a true child of God, but not a matured Christian. The
eighth of Romans is very important, and we should be very familiar with it.
In the fourteenth verse the apostle says: “For as many as are led by the
Spirit of God they are the sons of God.” Just as the soldier is led by his
captain, the pupil by his teacher, or the traveller by his guide; so the Holy
Spirit will be the guide of every true child of God.

CHAPTER VII.

Then let me call your attention to another fact. All Paul’s teaching in nearly
every Epistle rings out the doctrine of assurance. He says in 2 Corinthians

v. 1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were
dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens.” He had a title to the mansions above, and he says–I know
it. He was not living in uncertainty. He said: “I have a desire to depart and
be with Christ” (Phil. i. 23); and if he had been uncertain he would not have
said that. Then in Colossians iii. 4, he says: “When Christ, who is our life,
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I am told that Dr.
Watts’ tombstone bears this same passage of Scripture. There is no doubt
there.
Then turn to Colossians i. 12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath
made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who
hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into
the kingdom of His dear Son.”

Three haths: “hath made us meet;” “hath delivered us;” and “hath translated
us.” It does not say that He is going to make us meet; that He is going to
deliver; that He is going to translate.

Then again in verse 14th: “In whom we have redemption through His
blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” We are either forgiven or we are not,
we should not give ourselves any rest until we get into the kingdom of God;
nor until we can each look up and say, “I know that if my earthly house of
this tabernacle were dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. v. 1).

Look at Romans viii. 32: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered
Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all
things?” If He gave us His Son, will He not give us the certainty that He is
ours. I have heard this illustration. There was a man who owed $10,000,
and would have been made a bankrupt, but a friend came forward and paid
the sum. It was found afterwards that he owed a few dollars more; but he
did not for a moment entertain a doubt that, as his friend had paid the larger
amount, he would also pay the smaller. And we have high warrant for

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saying that if God has given us His Son He will with Him also freely give
us all things; and if we want to realize our salvation beyond controversy He
will not leave us in darkness.

Again in the 33d verse: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s
elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that
died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God,
who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed
all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all
these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I
am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor
any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That has the right ring in it. There is Assurance for you. “I Know.” Do you
think that the God who has justified me will condemn me? That is quite an
absurdity. God is going to save us so that neither men, angels, nor devils,
can bring any charge against us or Him. He will have the work complete.

Job lived in a darker day than we do; but we read in Job xix. 25: “I know
that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the
earth.”

The same confidence breathes through Paul’s last words to Timothy: “For
the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed;
for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep
that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” It is not a matter
of doubt, but of knowledge. “I know.” “I am persuaded.” The word “Hope,”
is not used in the Scripture to express doubt. It is used in regard to the
second coming of Christ, or to the resurrection of the body. We do not say
that we “hope” we are Christians. I do not say that I “hope” I am an
American, or that I “hope” I am a married man. These are settled things. I
may say that I “hope” to go back to my home, or I hope to attend such a

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meeting. I do not say that I “hope” to come to this country, for I am here.
And so, if we are born of God we know it; and He will not leave us in
darkness if we search the Scriptures.

Christ taught this doctrine to His seventy disciples when they returned
elated with their success, saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us
through Thy name.” The Lord seemed to check them, and said that He
would give them something to rejoice in. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice
not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your
names are written in heaven.” (Luke x. 20.)

It is the privilege of every one of us to know, beyond a doubt, that our
salvation is sure. Then we can work for others. But if we are doubtful of
our own salvation, we are not fit for the service of God.

Another passage is John v. 24: “Verily, verily I say unto you: He that
heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life,
and shall not come into ‘judgment,'” (the new translation has it so), “but is
passed from death unto life.”

Some people say that you never can tell till you are before the great white
throne of Judgment whether you are saved or not. Why, my dear friend, if
your life is hid with Christ in God, you are not coming into judgment for
your sins. We may come into judgment for reward. This is clearly taught
where the lord reckoned with the servant to whom five talents had been
given, and who brought other five talents saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst
unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast
been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things;
enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. xxv. 20, 21.) We shall be judged
for our stewardship. That is one thing; but salvation–eternal life–is
another.

Will God demand payment twice of the debt which Christ has paid for us?
If Christ bear my sins in His own body on the tree, am I to answer for them
as well?

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Isaiah tells us that, “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was
bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and
with His stripes we are healed.” In Romans iv. 25, we read: He “was
delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Let
us believe, and get the benefit of His finished work.

Then again in John x. 9: “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in he shall
be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” That is the promise.
Then the 27th verse, “My sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and they
follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father which gave
them is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father’s hand.” Think of that! The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are
pledged to keep us. You see that it is not only the Father, not only the Son,
but the three persons of the Triune God.

Now, a great many people want some token outside of God’s word. That
habit always brings doubt. If I made a promise to meet a man at a certain
hour and place to-morrow, and he were to ask me for my watch as a token
of my sincerity, it would be a slur on my truthfulness. We must not
question what God has said: He has made statement after statement, and
multiplied figure upon figure. Christ says: “I am the door; by Me if any
man enter in he shall be saved.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My
sheep, and am known of Mine.” “I am the light of the world; he that
followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “I
am the truth;” receive Me, and you will have the truth; for I am the
embodiment of truth. Do you want to know the way? “I am the way:”
follow Me, and I will lead you into the kingdom. Are you hungering after
righteousness? “I am the Bread of life:” if you eat of Me you shall never
hunger. “I am the Water of life:” if you drink of this water it shall be within
you “a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.” “I am the
resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”
(John xi. 25, 26.)

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Let me remind you where our doubts come from. A good many of God’s
dear people never get beyond knowing themselves servants. He calls us
“friends.” If you go into a house you will soon see the difference between
the servant and the son. The son walks at perfect liberty all over the house;
he is at home. But the servant takes a subordinate place. What we want is to
get beyond servants. We ought to realize our standing with God as sons and
daughters. He will not “un-child” His children. God has not only adopted
us, but we are His by birth: we have been born into His kingdom. My little
boy was as much mine when he was a day old as now that he is fourteen.
He was my son; although it did not appear what he would be when he
attained manhood. He is mine; although he may have to undergo probation
under tutors and governors. The children of God are not perfect; but we are
perfectly His children.

Another origin of doubts is looking at ourselves. If you want to be wretched
and miserable, filled with doubts from morning till night, look at
yourselves. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on
Thee.” (Isa. xxvi. 3.) Many of God’s dear children are robbed of joy
because they keep looking at themselves.

Some one has said: “There are three ways to look. If you want to be
wretched, look within; if you wish to be distracted, look around; but if you
would have peace, look up.” Peter looked away from Christ, and he
immediately began to sink. The Master said to him: “O thou of little faith!
Wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. xiv. 31.) He had God’s eternal word,
which was sure footing, and better than either marble, granite or iron; but
the moment he took his eyes off Christ down he went. Those who look
around cannot see how unstable and dishonoring is their walk. We want to
look straight at the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”

When I was a boy I could only make a straight track in the snow, by
keeping my eyes fixed upon a tree or some object before me. The moment I
took my eye off the mark set in front of me, I walked crooked. It is only
when we look fixedly on Christ that we find perfect peace. After He rose
from the dead He showed His disciples His hands and His feet. (Luke xxiv.
40.) That was the ground of their peace. If you want to scatter your doubts,

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look at the blood; and if you want to increase your doubts, look at yourself.
You will get doubts enough for years by being occupied with yourself for a
few days.

Then again: look at what He is, and at what He has done; not at what you
are, and what you have done. That is the way to get peace and rest.

Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the emancipation of
three millions of slaves. On a certain day their chains were to fall off, and
they were to be free. The proclamation was put up on the trees and fences
wherever the Northern Army marched. A good many slaves could not read:
but others read the proclamation, and most of them believed it; and on a
certain day a glad shout went up, “We are free!” Some did not believe it,
and stayed with their old masters; but it did not alter the fact that they were
free. Christ, the Captain of our salvation, has proclaimed freedom to all
who have faith in Him. Let us take Him at His word. Their feelings would
not have made the slaves free. The power must come from the outside.
Looking at ourselves will not make us free, but it is looking to Christ with
the eye of faith.

Bishop Ryle has strikingly said: “Faith is the root, and Assurance the
flower.” Doubtless you can never have the flower without the root; but it is
no less certain you may have the root, and not the flower.

“Faith is that poor trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the press,
and touched the hem of His garment. (Mark v. 27.) Assurance is Stephen
standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saying, ‘I see the heavens
opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God'” (Acts vii.
56).

“Faith is the penitent thief, crying, ‘Lord, remember me’ (Luke xxiii. 42).
Assurance is Job sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and saying, ‘I know
that my Redeemer liveth;’ ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him'” (Job

xix. 25; xiii. 15).

CHAPTER VII.

“Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink, ‘Lord, save me!’ (Matt.

xxiv. 30). Assurance is that same Peter declaring before the Council, in
after-times, ‘This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders,
which is become the head of the corner: neither is there salvation in any
other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men
whereby we must be saved'” (Acts iv. 11, 12).
“Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine
unbelief!’ (Mark ix. 24). Assurance is the confident challenge, ‘Who shall
lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that condemneth?'”
(Rom. viii. 33, 34).

Faith is Saul praying in the house of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind,
and alone. (Acts ix. 11.) Assurance is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking
calmly into the grave, and saying, ‘I know whom I have believed.’ ‘There is
a crown laid up for me’ (2 Tim. i. 12; iv. 8).

“Faith is Life. How great the blessing! Who can tell the gulf between life
and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy, painful, trying,
anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless, to the very end.

“Assurance is more than life. It is health, strength, power, vigor, activity,
energy, manliness, beauty.”

A minister once pronounced the benediction in this way: “The heart of God
to make us welcome; the blood of Christ to make us clean, and the Holy
Spirit to make us certain.” The security of the believer is the result of the
operation of the Spirit of God.

Another writer says: “I have seen shrubs and trees grow out of the rocks,
and overhang fearful precipices, roaring cataracts, and deep running waters;
but they maintained their position, and threw out their foliage and branches
as much as if they had been in the midst of a dense forest.” It was their hold
on the rock that made them secure; and the influences of nature that
sustained their life. So believers are oftentimes exposed to the most horrible
dangers in their journey to heaven; but, so long as they are “rooted and

CHAPTER VII.

grounded” in the Rock of Ages, they are perfectly secure. Their hold of
Him is their guarantee; and the blessings of His grace give them life and
sustain them in life. And as the tree must die, or the rock fall, before a
dissolution can be effected between them, so either the believer must lose
his spiritual life, or the Rock must crumble, ere their union can be
dissolved.

Speaking of the Lord Jesus, Isaiah says: “I will fasten Him as a nail in a
sure place; and He shall be for a glorious throne to His Father’s house: and
they shall hang upon Him all the glory of His father’s house, the offspring
and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to
all the vessels of flagons” (xxii. 23, 24).

There is one nail, fastened in a sure place; and on it hang all the flagons and
all the cups. “Oh,” says one little cup, “I am so small and so black, suppose
I were to drop!” “Oh,” says a flagon, “there is no fear of you; but I am so
heavy, so very weighty, suppose I were to drop!” And a little cup says, “Oh,
if I were only like the gold cup there, I should never fear falling.” But the
gold cup answers, “It is not because I am a gold cup that I keep up; but
because I hang upon the nail.” If the nail gives way we all come down, gold
cups, china cups, pewter cups, and all; but as long as the nail keeps up, all
that hang on Him hang safely.

I once read these words on a tombstone: “Born, died, kept.” Let us pray
God to keep us in perfect peace, and assured of salvation.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHRIST ALL AND IN ALL.

(Colossians iii. 11.)

Christ is all to us that we make Him to be. I want to emphasize that word
“all.” Some men make Him to be “a root out of a dry ground,” “without
form or comeliness.” He is nothing to them; they do not want Him. Some
Christians have a very small Saviour, for they are not willing to receive
Him fully, and let Him do great and mighty things for them. Others have a
mighty Saviour, because they make Him to be great and mighty.

If we would know what Christ wants to be to us, we must first of all know
Him as our Saviour from sin. When the angel came down from heaven to
proclaim that He was to be born into the world, you remember he gave His
name, “He shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their
sins.” Have we been delivered from sin? He did not come to save us in our
sins, but from our sins. Now, there are three ways of knowing a man. Some
men you know only by hearsay; others you merely know by having been
once introduced to them, you know them very slightly; other again you
know by having been acquainted with them for years, you know them
intimately. So I believe there are three classes of people to-day in the
Christian Church and out of it: those who know Christ only by reading or
by hearsay, those who have a historical Christ; those who have a slight
personal acquaintance with Him; and, those who thirst, as Paul did, to
“know Him and the power of His resurrection.” The more we know of
Christ the more we shall love Him, and the better we shall serve Him.

Let us look at Him as He hangs upon the Cross, and see how He has put
away sin. He was manifested that He might take away our sins; and if we
really know Him we must first of all see Him as our Saviour from sin. You
remember how the angels said to the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem,
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people:
for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord.” (Luke ii. 10, 11.) Then if you go clear back to Isaiah,

CHAPTER VIII.

seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, you will find these words: “I,
even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour” (xliii. 11).

Again, in the First Epistle of John (iv. 14) we read: “We have seen, and do
testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” All the
heathen religions, we read, teach men to work their way up to God; but the
religion of Jesus Christ is God coming down to men to save them, to lift
them up out of the pit of sin. In Luke xix. 10, we read that Christ Himself
told the people what He had come for: “The Son of Man is come to seek
and to save that which was lost.” So we start from the Cross, not from the
cradle. Christ has opened up a new and living way to the Father; He has
taken all the stumbling-blocks out of the way, so that every man who
accepts of Christ as his Saviour can have salvation.

But Christ is not only a Saviour. I might save a man from drowning and
rescue him from an untimely grave; but I might probably not be able to do
any more for him. Christ is something more than a Saviour. When the
children of Israel were placed behind the blood, that blood was their
salvation; but they would still have heard the crack of the slave-driver’s
whip if they had not been delivered from the Egyptian yoke of bondage:
then it was that God delivered them from the hand of the king of Egypt. I
have little sympathy with the idea that God comes down to save us, and
then leaves us in prison, the slaves of our besetting sins. No; He has come
to deliver us, and to give us victory over our evil tempers, our passions, and
our lusts. Are you a professed Christian but one who is a slave to some
besetting sin? If you want to get victory over that temper or that lust, go on
to know Christ more intimately. He brings deliverance for the past, the
present, and the future. “Who delivered; who doth deliver; who will yet
deliver.” (2 Cor. i. 10.)

How often, like the children of Israel when they came to the Red Sea, have
we become discouraged because everything looked dark before us, behind
us, and around us, and we knew not which way to turn. Like Peter we have
said, “To whom shall we go?” But God has appeared for our deliverance.
He has brought us through the Red Sea right out into the wilderness, and
opened up the way into the Promised Land. But Christ is not only our

CHAPTER VIII.

Deliverer; He is our Redeemer. That is something more than being our
Saviour. He has brought us back. “Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and
ye shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah lii. 3.) “We were not
redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold.” (1 Peter i. 18.) If gold
could have redeemed us, could He not have created ten thousand worlds
full of gold?

When God had redeemed the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt,
and brought them through the Red Sea, they struck out for the wilderness;
and then God became to them their Way. I am so thankful the Lord has not
left us in darkness as to the right way. There is no living man who has been
groping in the darkness but may know the way. “I am the Way,” says
Christ. If we follow Christ we shall be in the right way, and have the right
doctrine. Who could lead the children of Israel through the wilderness like
the Almighty God Himself? He knew the pitfalls and dangers of the way,
and guided the people through all their wilderness journey right into the
promised land. It is true that if it had not been for their accursed unbelief
they might have crossed into the land at Kadesh Barnea, and taken
possession of it, but they desired something besides God’s word; so they
were turned back, and had to wander in the desert for forty years. I believe
there are thousands of God’s children wandering in the wilderness still. The
Lord has delivered them from the hand of the Egyptian, and would at once
take them through the wilderness right into the Promised Land, if they were
only willing to follow Christ. Christ has been down here, and has made the
rough places smooth, and the dark places light, and the crooked places
straight. If we will only be led by Him, and will follow Him, all will be
peace, and joy, and rest.

In the frontier, when a man goes out hunting he takes a hatchet with him,
and cuts off pieces from the bark of the trees as he goes along through the
forest: this is called “blazing the way.” He does it that he may know the
way back, as there is no pathway through these thick forests. Christ has
come down to this earth; He has “blazed the Way:” and now that He has
gone up on high, if we will but follow him, we shall be kept in the right
path. I will tell you how you may know if you are following Christ or not.
If some one has slandered you, or misjudged you, do you treat them as your

CHAPTER VIII.

master would have done? If you do not bear these things in a loving and
forgiving spirit, all the churches and ministers in the world cannot make
you right. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”
(Romans viii. 9.) “If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature: old
things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. v. 17.)

Christ is not only our way; He is the Light upon the way. He says, “I am the
Light of the world.” (John viii. 12; ix. 5; xii. 46.) He goes on to say, “He
that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of
life.” It is impossible for any man or woman who is following Christ to
walk in darkness. If your soul is in the darkness, groping around in the fog
and mist of earth, let me tell you it is because you have got away from the
true light. There is nothing but light that will dispel darkness. So let those
who are walking in spiritual darkness admit Christ into their hearts: He is
the Light. I call to mind a picture of which I used at one time to think a
good deal; but now I have come to look more closely, I would not put it up
in my house except I turned the face to the wall. It represents Christ as
standing at a door, knocking, and having a big lantern in His hand. Why,
you might as well hang up a lantern to the sun as put one into Christ’s hand.
He is the Sun of Righteousness; and it is our privilege to walk in the light
of an unclouded sun.

Many people are hunting after light, and peace, and joy. We are nowhere
told to seek after these things. If we admit Christ into our hearts these will
all come of themselves. I remember, when a boy, I used to try in vain to
catch my shadow. One day I was walking with my face to the sun; and as I
happened to look around I saw that my shadow was following me. The
faster I went the faster my shadow followed; I could not get away from it.
So when our faces are directed to the Sun of Righteousness, the peace and
joy are sure to come. A man said to me some time ago, “Moody, how do
you feel?” It was so long since I had thought about my feelings I had to
stop and consider awhile, in order to find out. Some Christians are all the
time thinking about their feelings; and because they do not feel just right
they think their joy is all gone. If we keep our faces towards Christ, and are
occupied with Him, we shall be lifted out of the darkness and the trouble
that may have gathered round our path.

CHAPTER VIII.

I remember being in a meeting after the war of the great rebellion broke
out. The war had been going on for about six months. The army of the
North had been defeated at Bull Run, in fact, we had nothing but defeat,
and it looked as though the republic was going to pieces. So we were much
cast down and discouraged. At this meeting every speaker for awhile
seemed as if he had hung his harp upon the willow; and it was one of the
gloomiest meetings I ever attended. Finally an old man with beautiful white
hair got up to speak, and his face literally shone. “Young men,” he said
“you do not talk like sons of the King. Though it is dark just here,
remember it is light somewhere else.” Then he went on to say that if it were
dark all over the world, it was light up around the Throne.

He told us he had come from the east, where a friend had described to him
how he had been up a mountain to spend the night and see the sun rise. As
the party were climbing up the mountain, and before they had reached the
summit, a storm came on. This friend said to the guide, “I will give this up;
take me back.” The guide smiled, and replied, “I think we shall get above
the storm soon.” On they went; and it was not long before they got up to
where it was as calm as any summer evening. Down in the valley a terrible
storm raged; they could hear the thunder rolling, and see the lightning’s
flash; but all was serene on the mountain top. “And so, my young friends,”
continued the old man, “though all is dark around you, come a little higher
and the darkness will flee away.” Often when I have been inclined to get
discouraged, I have thought of what he said. Now if you are down in the
valley amidst the thick fog and the darkness, get a little higher; get nearer to
Christ, and know more of Him.

You remember the Bible says, that when Christ expired on the cross, the
light of the world was put out. God sent His Son to be the light of the
world; but men did not love the light because it reproved them of their sins.
When they were about to put out this light, what did Christ say to His
disciples? “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” (Acts i. 8.) He has gone up
yonder to intercede for us; but He wants us to shine for Him down here.
“Ye are the light of the world.” (Matt. v. 14.) So our work is to shine; not to
blow our own trumpet so that people may look at us. What we want to do is
to show forth Christ. If we have any light at all it is borrowed light. Some

CHAPTER VIII.

one said to a young Christian: “Converted! it is all moonshine!” Said he: “I
thank you for the illustration; the moon borrows its light from the sun; and
we borrow ours from the Sun of Righteousness.” If we are Christ’s, we are
here to shine for Him: by and by he will call us home to our reward.

I remember hearing of a blind man who sat by the wayside with a lantern
near him. When he was asked what he had a lantern for, as he could not see
the light, he said it was that people should not stumble ever him. I believe
more people stumble over the inconsistencies of professed Christians than
from any other cause. What is doing more harm to the cause of Christ than
all the scepticism in the world is this cold, dead formalism, this conformity
to the world, this professing what we do not possess. The eyes of the world
are upon us. I think it was George Fox who said every Quaker ought to
light up the country for ten miles around him. If we were all brightly
shining for the Master, those about us would soon be reached, and there
would be a shout of praise going to heaven.

People say: “I want to know what is the truth.” Listen: “I am the truth,” says
Christ. (John xiv. 5.) If you want to know what the truth is, get acquainted
with Christ. People also complain that they have not life. Many are trying
to give themselves spiritual life. You may galvanize yourselves and put
electricity into yourselves, so to speak; but the effect will not last very long.
Christ alone is the author of life. If you would have real spiritual life, get to
know Christ. Many try to stir up spiritual life by going to meetings. That
may be well enough; but it will be of no use, unless they get into contact
with the living Christ. Then their spiritual life will not be a spasmodic
thing, but will be perpetual; flowing on and on, and bringing forth fruit to
God.

Then Christ is our Keeper. A great many young disciples are afraid they
will not hold out. “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
(Psalm cxxi. 4.) It is the work of Christ to keep us; and if He keeps us there
will be no danger of our falling. I suppose if Queen Victoria had to take
care of the Crown of England, some thief might attempt to get access to it;
but it is put away in the Tower of London, and guarded night and day by
soldiers. The whole English army would, if necessary, be called out to

CHAPTER VIII.

protect it. And we have no strength in ourselves. We are no match for
Satan; he has had six thousand years’ experience. But then we remember
that the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps is our keeper. In Isaiah xli.
10, we read, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am
thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee
with the right hand of My righteousness.” In Jude also, verse 24, we are
told that He is “able to keep us from falling.” “We have an Advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John ii. 1.)

But Christ is something more. He is our Shepherd. It is the work of the
shepherd to care for the sheep, to feed them and protect them. “I am the
Good Shepherd;” “My sheep hear My voice.” “I lay down My life for the
sheep.” In that wonderful tenth chapter of John, Christ uses the personal
pronoun no less than twenty-eight times, in declaring what He is and what
He will do. In verse 28 He says, “They shall never perish; neither shall any
[man] pluck them out of My hand.” But notice the word “man” is in italics.
See how the verse really reads: “Neither shall any pluck them out of My
hand”–no devil or man shall be able to do it. In another place the Scripture
declares, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. iii. 3.) How safe and
how secure!

Christ says, “My sheep hear My voice . . . and they follow Me.” (John x.
27.) A gentleman in the East heard of a shepherd who could call all his
sheep to him by name. He went and asked if this was true. The shepherd
took him to the pasture where they were, and called one of them by some
name. One sheep looked up and answered the call, while the others went on
feeding and paid no attention. In the same way he called about a dozen of
the sheep around him. The stranger said, “How do you know one from the
other? They all look perfectly alike.” “Well,” said he, “you see that sheep
toes in a little; that other one has a squint; one has a little piece of wool off;
another has a black spot; and another has a piece out of its ear.” The man
knew all his sheep by their failings, for he had not a perfect one in the
whole flock. I suppose our Shepherd knows us in the same way.

An Eastern shepherd was once telling a gentleman that his sheep knew his
voice, and that no stranger could deceive them. The gentleman thought he

CHAPTER VIII.

would like to put the statement to the test. So he put on the shepherd’s frock
and turban, and took his staff and went to the flock. He disguised his voice,
and tried to speak as much like the shepherd as he could; but he could not
get a single sheep in the flock to follow him. He asked the shepherd if his
sheep never followed a stranger. He was obliged to admit that if a sheep got
sickly it would follow any one. So it is with a good many professed
Christians; when they get sickly and weak in the faith, they will follow any
teacher that comes along; but when the soul is in health, a man will not be
carried away by errors and heresies. He will know whether the “voice”
speaks the truth or not. He can soon tell that, if he is really in communion
with God. When God sends a true messenger his words will find a ready
response in the Christian heart.

Christ is a tender Shepherd. You may some time think He has not been a
very tender Shepherd to you; you are passing under the rod. It is written,
“Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He
receiveth.” (Heb. xii. 6.) That you are passing under the rod is no proof that
Christ does not love you. A friend of mine lost all his children. No man
could ever have loved his family more; but the scarlet fever took one by
one away; and so the whole four or five, one after another, died. The poor
stricken parents went over to great Britain, and wandered from one place to
another, there and on the continent. At length they found their way to Syria.
One day they saw an Eastern shepherd come down to a stream, and call his
flock to cross. The sheep came down to the brink, and looked at the water;
but they seemed to shrink from it, and he could not get them to respond to
his call. He then took a little lamb, put it under one arm; he took another
lamb and put it under the other arm, and thus passed into the stream. The
old sheep no longer stood looking at the water: they plunged in after the
shepherd; and in a few minutes the whole flock was on the other side; and
he led them away to newer and fresher pastures. The bereaved father and
mother, as they looked on the scene, felt that it taught them a lesson. They
no longer murmured because the Great Shepherd had taken their lambs one
by one into yonder world; and they began to look up and look forward to
the time when they would follow the loved ones they had lost. If you have
loved ones gone before, remember that your Shepherd is calling you to “set
your affection on things above.” (Col. iii. 2.) Let us be faithful to Him, and

CHAPTER VIII.

follow Him, while we remain in this world. And if you have not taken Him
for your Shepherd, do so this very day.

Christ is not only all these things that I have mentioned: He is also our
Mediator, our Sanctifier, our Justifier; in fact, it would take volumes to tell
what He desires to be to every individual soul. While looking through some
papers I once read this wonderful description of Christ. I do not know
where it originally came from; but it was so fresh to my soul that I should
like to give it to you:-

“Christ is our Way; we walk in Him. He is our Truth; we embrace Him. He
is our Life; we live in Him. He is our Lord; we choose Him to rule over us.
He is our Master; we serve Him. He is our Teacher, instructing us in the
way of salvation. He is our Prophet, pointing out the future. He is our
Priest, having atoned for us. He is our Advocate, ever living to make
intercession for us. He is our Saviour, saving to the uttermost. He is our
Root; we grow from Him. He is our Bread; we feed upon Him. He is our
Shepherd, leading us into green pastures. He is our true Vine; we abide in
Him. He is the Water of Life; we slake our thirst from Him. He is the
fairest among ten thousand: we admire Him above all others. He is ‘the
brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person;’ we
strive to reflect His likeness. He is the upholder of all things; we rest upon
Him. He is our wisdom; we are guided by Him. He is our Righteousness;
we cast all our imperfections upon Him. He is our Sanctification; we draw
all our power for holy life from Him. He is our Redemption, redeeming us
from all iniquity. He is our Healer, curing all our diseases. He is our Friend,
relieving us in all our necessities. He is our Brother, cheering us in our
difficulties.”

Here is another beautiful extract: it is from Gotthold:

“For my part, my soul is like a hungry and thirsty child; and I need His love
and consolation for my refreshment. I am a wandering and lost sheep; and I
need Him as a good and faithful shepherd. My soul is like a frightened dove
pursued by the hawk; and I need His wounds for a refuge. I am a feeble
vine; and I need His cross to lay hold of, and to wind myself about. I am a

CHAPTER VIII.

sinner; and I need His righteousness. I am naked and bare; and I need His
holiness and innocence for a covering. I am ignorant; and I need His
teaching: simple and foolish; and I need the guidance of His Holy Spirit. In
no situation, and at no time, can I do without Him. Do I pray? He must
prompt, and intercede for me. Am I arraigned by Satan at the Divine
tribunal? He must be my Advocate. Am I in affliction? He must be my
Helper. Am I persecuted by the world? He must defend me. When I am
forsaken, He must be my Support; when I am dying, my life: when
mouldering in the grave, my Resurrection. Well, then, I will rather part
with all the world, and all that it contains, than with Thee, my Saviour.
And, God be thanked! I know that Thou, too, art neither able nor willing to
do without me. Thou art rich; and I am poor. Thou hast abundance; and I
am needy. Thou hast righteousness; and I sins. Thou hast wine and oil; and
I wounds. Thou hast cordials and refreshments; and I hunger and thirst.

Use me then, my Saviour, for whatever purpose, and in whatever way,
Thou mayest require. Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel; fill it with
Thy grace. Here is my sinful and troubled soul; quicken and refresh it with
Thy love. Take my heart for Thine abode; my mouth to spread the glory of
Thy name; my love and all my powers, for the advancement of Thy
believing people; and never suffer the steadfastness and confidence of my
faith to abate–that so at all times I may be enabled from the heart to say.
‘Jesus needs me, and I Him; and so we suit each other.'”

CHAPTER IX. 103

CHAPTER IX.

BACKSLIDING.

“I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely: for Mine anger is
turned away.”–Hosea xiv. 4.

There are two kinds of backsliders. Some have never been converted: they
have gone through the form of joining a Christian community and claim to
be backsliders; but they never have, if I may use the expression, “slid
forward.” They may talk of backsliding; but they have never really been
born again. They need to be treated differently from real back-sliders–those
who have been born of the incorruptible seed, but who have turned aside.
We want to bring the latter back the same road by which they left their first
love.

Turn to Psalm lxxxv. 5. There you read: “Wilt Thou be angry with us for
ever? wilt Thou draw out Thine anger to all generations? wilt Thou not
revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Show us Thy mercy,
O Lord; and grant us Thy salvation.” Now look again: “I will hear what
God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to
His saints; but let them not turn again to folly” (verse 8).

There is nothing that will do back-sliders so much good as to come in
contact with the Word of God; and for them the Old Testament is as full of
help as the New. The book of Jeremiah has some wonderful passages for
wanderers. What we want to do is to get back-sliders to hear what God the
Lord will say.

Look for a moment at Jeremiah vi. 10. “To whom shall I speak, and give
warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they
cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they
have no delight in it.” That is the condition of back-sliders. They have no
delight whatever in the word of God. But we want to bring them back, and
let God get their ear. Read from the 14th verse: “They have healed also the
hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when

CHAPTER IX. 104

there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed
abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush:
therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them
they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the
ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk
therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not
walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound
of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.”

That was the condition of the Jews when they had backslidden. They had
turned away from the old paths. And that is the condition of backsliders.
They have got away from the good old book. Adam and Eve fell by not
hearkening to the word of God. They did not believe God’s word; but they
believed the tempter. That is the way backsliders fall–by turning away
from the word of God.

In Jeremiah ii. we find God pleading with them as a father would plead
with a son. “Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in
Me, that they are gone from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are
become vain? . . . Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord; and
with your children’s children will I plead . . . For my people have
committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters,
and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

Now there is one thing to which we wish to call the attention of
backsliders; and that is, that the Lord never forsook them; but that they
forsook Him! The Lord never left them; but they left Him! And this, too,
without any cause! He says, “What iniquity have your fathers found in Me,
that they are gone far from Me?” Is not God the same to-day as when you
came to Him first? Has God changed? Men are apt to think that God has
changed; but the fault is with them. Backslider, I would ask you, “What
iniquity is there in God, that you have left Him and gone far from Him?”
You have, He says, hewed out to yourselves broken cisterns that hold no
water. The world cannot satisfy the new nature. No earthly well can satisfy
the soul that has become a partaker of the heavenly nature. Honor, wealth
and the pleasures of this world will not satisfy those who, having tasted the

CHAPTER IX. 105

water of life, have gone astray, seeking refreshment at the world’s
fountains. Earthly wells will get dry. They cannot quench spiritual thirst.

Again in the 32d verse: “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her
attire? yet My people have forgotten Me, days without number.” That is the
charge which God brings against the backslider. They “have forgotten Me,
days without number.”

I have often startled young ladies when I have said to them, “My friend,
you think more of your ear-rings than of the Lord.” The reply has been,
“No, I do not.” But when I have asked, “Would you not be troubled if you
lost one; and would you not set about seeking for it?” the answer has been,
“Well, yes, I think I should.” But though they had turned from the Lord, it
did not give them any trouble; nor did they seek after Him that they might
find Him.

How many once in fellowship and in daily communion with the Lord now
think more of their dresses and ornaments than of their precious souls!
Love does not like to be forgotten. Mothers would have broken hearts if
their children left them and never wrote a word or sent any memento of
their affection; and God pleads over backsliders as a parent over loved ones
who have gone astray. He tries to woo them back. He asks: “What have I
done that you should have forsaken Me?”

The most tender and loving words to be found in the whole of the Bible are
from Jehovah to those who have left Him without a cause. Jer. ii. 19.

Hear how He argues with such: (Jer. xi. 19.) “Thine own wickedness shall
correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee; know, therefore, and
see, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy
God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.”

I do not exaggerate when I say that I have seen hundreds of backsliders
come back; and I have asked them if they have not found it an evil and a
bitter thing to leave the Lord. You cannot find a real backslider, who has
known the Lord, but will admit that it is an evil and a bitter thing to turn

CHAPTER IX. 106

away from Him; and I do not know of any one verse more used to bring
back wanderers than that very one. May it bring you back if you have
wandered into the far country.

Look at Lot. Did not he find it an evil and a bitter thing? He was twenty
years in Sodom, and never made a convert. He got on well in the sight of
the world. Men would have told you that he was one of the most influential
and worthy men in all Sodom. But alas! alas! he ruined his family. And it is
a pitiful sight to see that old backslider going through the streets of Sodom
at midnight, after he has warned his children, and they have turned a deaf
ear.

I have never known a man and his wife backslide, without its proving utter
ruin to their children. They will make a mockery of religion and will deride
their parents: “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee; and thy
backsliding shall reprove thee!” Did not David find it so? Mark him,
crying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had
died for thee; O Absalom, my son, my son!” I think it was the ruin, rather
than the death of his son that caused this anguish.

I remember being engaged in conversation some years ago, till past
midnight, with an old man. He had been for years wandering on the barren
mountains of sin. That night he wanted to get back. We prayed, and prayed,
and prayed, till light broke in upon him; and he went away rejoicing. The
next night he sat in front of me when I was preaching, and I think that I
never saw any one look so sad and wretched in all my life. He followed me
into the enquiry-room. “What is the trouble?” I asked. “Is your eye off the
Saviour? Have your doubts come back?” “No; it is not that,” he said. “I did
not go to business, but spent all this day in visiting my children. They are
all married and in this city. I went from house to house, but there was not
one but mocked me. It is the darkest day of my life. I have awoke up to
what I have done. I have taken my children into the world; and now I
cannot get them out.” The Lord had restored unto him the joy of His
salvation; yet there was the bitter consequence of his transgression. You
can run through your experience; and you can find just such instances
repeated again and again. Many who came to your city years ago serving

CHAPTER IX. 107

God, in their prosperity have forgotten Him: and where are their sons and
daughters? Show me the father and mother who have deserted the Lord and
gone back to the beggarly elements of the world; and I am mistaken if their
children are not on the high road to ruin.

As we desire to be faithful we warn these backsliders. It is a sign of love to
warn of danger. We may be looked upon as enemies for a while; but the
truest friends are those who lift up the voice of warning. Israel had no truer
friend than Moses. In Jeremiah God gave His people a weeping prophet to
bring them back to Him; but they cast off God. They forgot the God who
brought them out of Egypt, and who led them through the desert into the
promised land. In their prosperity they forget Him and turned away. The
Lord had told them what would happen. (Deut. xxviii.) And see what did
happen. The king who make light of the word of God was taken captive by
Nebuchadnezzar, and his children brought up in front of him and every one
slain: his eyes were put out of his head; and he was bound in fetters of brass
and cast into a dungeon in Babylon. (2 Kings xxv. 7.) That is the way he
reaped what he had sown. Surely it is an evil and a bitter thing to backslide,
but the Lord would win you back with the message of His Work.

In Jeremiah viii. 5, we read: “Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden
by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit; They refuse to return.”
That is what the Lord brings against them. “They refuse to return.” “I
hearkened and heard; but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his
wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as
the horse rusheth into the battle. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her
appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the
time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the Lord.”

Now look: “I hearkened and heard; but they spake not aright.” No family
altar! No reading the Bible! No closet devotion! God stoops to hear; but His
people have turned away! If there be a penitent backslider, one who is
anxious for pardon and restoration, you will find no words more tender than
are to be found in Jeremiah iii. 12: “Go, and proclaim these words toward
the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will
not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord,

CHAPTER IX. 108

and I will not keep anger forever.” Now notice: “Only acknowledge thine
iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast
scattered thy ways to the stranger under every green tree, and ye have not
obeyed My voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the
Lord; for I am married unto you”–think of God coming and saying, “I am
married unto you!–and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.”

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity.” How many times have I held that
passage up to a backslider! “Acknowledge” it; and God says I will forgive
you. I remember a man asking, “Who said that? Is that there?” And I held
up to him the passage, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity;” and the man
went down on his knees, and cried, “My God, I have sinned”; and the Lord
restored him there and then. If you have wandered, He wants you to come
back.

He says in another place, “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah,
what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as
the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea vi. 4). His compassion and His love is
wonderful!

In Jeremiah iii. 22; “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your
backslidings. Behold, we come unto Thee; Thou art the Lord our God.” He
just puts words into the mouth of the backslider. Only come; and, if you
will come, He will receive you graciously and love you freely.

In Hosea xiv. 1, 2, 4: “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast
fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord (He puts
words into your mouth): say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive
us graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips . . . I will heal their
backsliding, I will love them freely, for Mine auger is turned away from
him.” Just observe that, Turn! Turn!! Turn!!! rings all through these
passages.

Now, if you have wandered, remember that you left Him, and not He you.
You have to get out of the backslider’s pit just in the same way you got in.

CHAPTER IX. 109

And if you take the same road as when you left the Master you will find
Him now, just where you are.

If we were to treat Christ as any earthly friend we should never leave Him;
and there would never be a backslider. If I were in a town for a single week
I should not think of going away without shaking hands with the friends I
had made, and saying “Good bye” to them. I should be justly blamed if I
took the train and left without saying a word to any one. The cry would be,
“What’s the matter?” But did you ever hear of a backslider bidding the Lord
Jesus Christ “Good bye”; going into his closet and saying “Lord Jesus, I
have known Thee ten, twenty, or thirty years: but I am tired of Thy service;
Thy yoke is not easy, nor Thy burden light; so I am going back to the
world, to the flesh-pots of Egypt. Good bye, Lord Jesus! Farewell”? Did
you ever hear that? No; you never did, and you never will. I tell you, if you
get into the closet and shut out the world and hold communion with the
Master you cannot leave Him. The language of your heart will be, “To
whom shall we go,” but unto Thee? “Thou hast the words of eternal life”
(John vi. 68). You could not go back to the world if you treated Him in that
way. But you left Him and ran away. You have forgotten Him days without
number. Come back to-day; just as you are! Make up your mind that you
will not rest until God has restored unto you the joy of His salvation.

A gentleman in Cornwall once met a Christian in the street whom he knew
to be a backslider. He went up to him, and said: “Tell me, is there not some
estrangement between you and the Lord Jesus?” The man hung his head,
and said, “Yes.” “Well,” said the gentleman, “what has He done to you?”
The answer to which was a flood of tears.

In Revelation ii. 4, 5, we read: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left the first love. Remember therefore from whence thou
art fallen; and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee
quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou
repent.” I want to guard you against a mistake which some people make
with regard to “doing the first works.” Many think that they are to have the
same experience over again, That has kept thousands for months without
peace; because they have been waiting for a renewal of their first

CHAPTER IX. 110

experience. You will never have the same experience as when you first
came to the Lord. God never repeats himself. No two people of all earth’s
millions look alike or think alike. You may say that you cannot tell two
people apart; but when you get well acquainted with them you can very
quickly distinguish differences. So, no one person will have the same
experience a second time. If God will restore His joy to your soul let Him
do it in His way. Do not mark out a way for God to bless you. Do not
expect the same experience that you had two or twenty years ago. You will
have a fresh experience, and God will deal with you in His own way. If you
confess your sins and tell Him that you have wandered from the path of His
commandments He will restore unto you the joy of His salvation.

I want to call your attention to the manner in which Peter fell; and I think
that nearly all fall pretty much in the same way. I want to lift up a warning
note to those who have not fallen. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take
heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. x. 12). Twenty-five years ago–and for the first
five years after I was converted–I used to think that if I were able to stand
for twenty years I need fear no fall. But the nearer you get to the Cross the
fiercer the battle. Satan aims high. He went amongst the twelve; and
singled out the Treasurer–Judas Iscariot, and the Chief Apostle–Peter.
Most men who have fallen have done so on the strongest side of their
character. I am told that the only side upon which Edinburgh Castle was
successfully assailed was where the rocks were steepest, and where the
garrison thought themselves secure. If any man thinks that he is strong
enough to resist the devil at any one point he needs special watch there, for
the tempter comes that way.

Abraham stands, as it were, at the head of the family of faith; and the
children of faith may be said to trace their descent to Abraham: and yet
down in Egypt he denied his wife. (Gen. xii.) Moses was noted for his
meekness; and yet he was kept out of the promised land because of one
hasty act and speech, when he was told by the Lord to speak to the rock so
that the congregation and their beasts should have water to drink. “Hear
now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. xx. 10).

CHAPTER IX. 111

Elijah was remarkable for his boldness: and yet he went off a day’s journey
into the wilderness like a coward and hid himself under a juniper tree,
requesting for himself that he might die, because of a message he received
from a woman. (1 Kings xix.) Let us be careful. No matter who the man
is–he may be in the pulpit–but if he gets self-conceited he will be sure to
fall. We who are followers of Christ need constantly to pray to be made
humble, and kept humble. God made Moses’ face so to shine that other men
could see it; but Moses himself wist not that his face shone, and the more
holy in heart a man is the more manifest to the outer world will be his daily
life and conversation. Some people talk of how humble they are; but if they
have true humility there will be no necessity for them to publish it. It is not
needful. A lighthouse does not have a drum beaten or a trumpet-blown in
order to proclaim the proximity of a lighthouse: it is its own witness. And
so if we have the true light in us it will show itself. It is not those who make
the most noise who have the most piety. There is a brook, or a little “burn”
as the Scotch call it, not far from where I live; and after a heavy rain you
can hear the rush of its waters a long way off: but let there come a few days
of pleasant weather, and the brook becomes almost silent. But there is a
river near my house, the flow of which I never heard in my life, as it pours
on in its deep and majestic course the year round. We should have so much
of the love of God within us that its presence shall be evident without our
loud proclamation of the fact.

The first step in Peter’s downfall was his self-confidence. The Lord warned
him. The Lord said: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have
you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith
fail not” (Luke xxii. 31, 32). But Peter said: “I am ready to go with Thee,
both into prison and to death.” “Though all shall be offended because of
Thee, yet will I never be offended.” (Matt. xxvi. 23.) “James and John, and
the others, may leave You; but You can count on me!” But the Lord warned
him: “I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou
shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.” (Luke xxii. 24.)

Though the Lord rebuked him, Peter said he was ready to follow Him to
death. That boasting is too often a forerunner of downfall. Let us walk
humbly and softly. We have a great tempter; and, in an unguarded hour, we

CHAPTER IX. 112

may stumble and fall and bring a scandal on Christ.

The next step in Peter’s downfall was that he went to sleep. If Satan can
rock the Church to sleep he does his work through God’s own people.
Instead of Peter watching one short hour in Gethsemane, he fell asleep, and
the Lord asked him, “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?” (Matt.

xxvi. 40.) The next thing was that he fought in the energy of the flesh. The
Lord rebuked him again and said, “They that take the sword shall perish
with the sword.” (Matt. xxvi. 52.) Jesus had to undo what Peter had done.
The next thing, he “followed afar off.” Step by step he gets away. It is a sad
thing when a child of God follows afar off. When you see him associating
with worldly friends, and throwing his influence on the wrong side, he is
following afar off; and it will not be long before disgrace will be brought
upon the old family name, and Jesus Christ will be wounded in the house of
his friends. The man, by his example, will cause others to stumble and fall.
The next thing–Peter is familiar and friendly with the enemies of Christ. A
damsel says to this bold Peter: “Thou also wast with this Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied before them all, saying, “I know not what thou sayest.” And
when he was gone out into the porch another maid saw him and said unto
them that were there, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And
again he denied with an oath. “I do not know the Man.” Another hour
passed; and yet he did not realize his position; when another confidently
affirmed that he was a Galilean, for his speech betrayed him. And he was
angry and began to curse and to swear, and again denied his Master: and
the cock crew. (Matt. xxvi. 69-74.)

He commences away up on the pinacle of self-conceit, and goes down step
by step until he breaks out into cursing, and swears that he never knew his
Lord.

The Master might have turned and said to him, “Is it true, Peter, that you
have forgotten Me so soon? Do you not remember when your wife’s mother
lay sick of a fever that I rebuked the disease and it left her? Do you not call
to mind your astonishment at the draught of fishes so that you exclaimed,
‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord?’ Do you remember when

CHAPTER IX. 113

in answer to your cry, ‘Lord, save me, or I perish,’ I stretched out My hand
and kept you from drowning in the water? Have you forgotten when, on the
Mount of Transfiguration, with James and John, you said to Me, ‘Lord, it is
good to be here: let us make three tabernacles?’ Have you forgotten being
with Me at the supper-table, and in Gethsemane? Is it true that you have
forgotten Me so soon?” The Lord might have upbraided him with questions
such as these: but He did nothing of the kind. He cast one look on Peter:
and there was so much love in it that it broke that bold disciple’s heart: and
he went out and wept bitterly.

And after Christ rose from the dead see how tenderly He dealt with the
erring disciple. The angel at the sepulchre says, “Tell His disciples, and
Peter.” (Mark xvi. 7.) The Lord did not forget Peter, though Peter had
denied Him thrice; so He caused this kindly special message to be
conveyed to the repentant disciple. What a tender and loving Saviour we
have!

Friend, if you are one of the wanderers, let the loving look of the Master
win you back; and let Him restore you to the joy of His salvation.

Before closing, let me say that I trust God will restore some backslider
reading these pages, who may in the future become a useful member of
society and a bright ornament of the Church. We should never have had the
thirty-second Psalm if David had not been restored: “Blessed is he whose
transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”; or that beautiful fifty-first
Psalm which was written by the restored backslider. Nor should we have
had that wonderful sermon on the day of Pentecost when three thousand
were converted–preached by another restored backslider.

May God restore other backsliders and make them a thousand times more
used for His glory than they ever were before.

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‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

“Jesus Himself.”
BY THE REV. ANDREW MURRAY. Author of “Abide in Christ.”
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY. NEW YORK CHICAGO

TORONTO. Publishers of Evangelical Literature.
COPYRIGHT 1893 BY FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY.

PREFACE.

The following brief messages comprise a revision of two addresses, which
originally appeared in the South African Pioneer, the organ of the “Cape
General Mission” (Rev. Andrew Murray, Pres.), and are published by
arrangement, the Mission participating in the proceeds.

“Jesus Himself.”

“Their eyes were opened, and they knew Him.”

The words, from which I want to present a simple message, will be found
in the Gospel according to St. Luke, the 24th chapter and the 31st verse:
“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him.” Some time since, I
preached a sermon with the words “Jesus Himself” as the text; and as I
went home I said to those who were walking with me: “How possible it is
to have Jesus Himself with us and never to know it, and how possible to

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

preach of, and to listen to, all the truth about Jesus Himself and yet not to
know Him.” I cannot say what a deep impression was made upon me as I
thought over it.

Now these disciples had spent a most blessed time with Jesus, but if they
had gone away before He revealed Himself that evening, they would never
have been sure that it was Jesus, for their eyes were holden that they should
not know Him. That is, alas, the condition of a great multitude in the
Church of Christ. They know that Christ has risen from the dead. They
believe, and they very often have blessed experiences that come from the
risen Christ. Very often in a time of Convention, or in time of silent Bible
reading, or in a time of the visitation of God’s grace, their hearts burn; and
yet it can be said of a people whose hearts are burning within them, that
they did not know it was Jesus Himself.

And now if you ask me what is to be the great blessing to be sought, my
answer is this: Not only should we think about Jesus Himself and speak
about Him and believe in Him, but we should come to the point that the
disciples in the text arrived at, “and they knew Him.” Everything is to be
found in that.

If I read that story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, I get from it four
stages in the Christian life. Just think! How did they begin the morning that
day? With

Hearts sad and troubled,

because they thought Jesus was dead. They did not know that He was alive,
and that is the state of very many Christians. They look to the Cross, and
they struggle to trust Christ, but they have never yet learned the blessedness
of believing that there is a living Christ to do everything for them. Oh! that
word of the angel to the women! “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
What is the difference between a dead Christ, whom the women went to
anoint, and a living Christ? A dead Christ, I must do everything for; a
living Christ does everything for me.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

The disciples began the morning with a sad heart. I fancy very possibly
they spent a sleepless night. Oh! the terrible disappointment! They had
hoped that Christ would be the Deliverer of Israel, and they had seen Him
die an accursed death. On the morning of that first day of the week, they
rose with sad hearts–the bitter sadness cannot be expressed. That is just the
life of many Christians. They try to believe in Jesus and to trust Him, and to
hope in Him, but there is no joy. Why? Because they do not know that there
is a living Christ to reveal Himself.

Then there is the second stage. What is that? The stage of which Christ
speaks:

“Slow of heart to believe.”

They had the message from the women. They told the stranger who walked
with them: “Certain women have astonished us, telling us they have seen an
angel, who says He is alive.” And Christ replied to them: “Oh! fools, and
slow of heart to believe.” Yes! there are many Christians to-day who have
heard and who know that they must not only believe in a crucified Christ,
but in a living Christ, and they try to grasp it and take it in, but it does not
bring them a blessing, and why? Because they want to feel it and not to
believe it. They want to work for it, and with efforts get hold of it, instead
of just quietly sinking down and believing, “Christ, the living Jesus, He will
do everything for us.” That is the second stage. The first stage is that of
ignorance, the second stage is that of unbelief–the doubting heart that
cannot take in the wonderful truth that Jesus lives.

Then comes the third stage-

The burning heart.

Jesus came to the two disciples, and after He had reproved them and said:
“Oh! fools, and slow of heart to believe,” He began to open the Scriptures
to them, and to tell them of all the wonderful things the prophets had
taught. Then their eyes were opened, and they began to understand the
Scriptures. They saw that it was true that it was prophesied that Christ must

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

rise. As He talked, there came out from Him–the living risen One–a
mighty influence, and it rested upon them, and they began to feel their
hearts burn within them with joy and gladness.

You still say perhaps: “That is the stage we want to come to.” No; God
forbid you should stop there. You may get in that third stage–the burning
heart–and yet something is still wanting–the revelation of Christ. The
disciples had had a blessed experience of His divine powers, but He had not
revealed Himself, and oh! how often it is that at Conventions and in
churches, and in meetings and in blessed fellowship with God’s saints, our
hearts burn within us. These are precious experiences of the working of
God’s grace and Spirit, and yet there is something wanting. What is that?
Jesus Himself has been working upon us, and the power of his risen life has
touched us, but we cannot say, “I have met Him. He has made Himself
known to me.” Oh, the difference between a burning heart, which becomes
cold after a time, which comes by fits and starts, and the blessed revelation
of Jesus Himself as my Saviour, taking charge of me and blessing me and
keeping me every day! This is the stage of

The satisfied heart.

Oh my brother, my sister! It is what I ask for you, and it is what I am sure
you ask for yourself. I ask it for myself. Lord Jesus! may we know Thee in
thy divine glory as the risen One, our Jesus, our Beloved and our mighty
One. Oh! if there are any sad ones who cannot take this in, and who say, “I
have never known the joy of religion yet”–listen, we are going to tell you
how you can. All will center round this one thing, that just as a little child
lives day by day in the arms of its mother, and grows up year by year under
a mother’s eye, it is a possibility that you can live every day and hour of
your life in fellowship with the Holy Jesus.

He will do it for you.

Come, and let your sad heart begin to hope. Will He reveal Himself? He
did it to the disciples and He will do it to you. Perhaps there are some who
have got beyond the sad heart and who yet feel, “I have not got what I

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

want.” If you throw open your heart and give up everything but just
believing and allowing Him to do what He wants, it will come. God be
praised! it will come.

Jesus will reveal Himself.

Perhaps you have arrived at the stage of the burning heart, and can tell of
many blessed experiences, but somehow there is a worm at the root. The
experiences do not last, and the heart is so changeable. Oh come, my
beloved! Follow Christ. Say, “Jesus, reveal Thyself that we may know Thee
Thyself. We ask not only to drink of the living water, we want the fountain.
We ask not only to bathe ourselves in the light, we want the Sun of
Righteousness within our hearts. We ask not only to know Thee, who hast
touched us and warmed our hearts and blessed us, but we want to know that
we have the unchangeable Jesus dwelling within our hearts and abiding
with us forevermore.”

Now comes the question which I really wanted to put,–What are the
conditions under which our blessed Lord reveals Himself? Or, put it this
way,–To whom is it that Jesus will reveal Himself? We have only to see
how he dealt with these disciples, and we get the answer. What is the
answer? First of all I think I find here that Christ revealed Himself to those
disciples

Who had given up everything for Him.

He had said to them: “Forsake all and follow Me,” and they had done it.
With all their feebleness and all their unfaithfulness they followed Christ to
the end. He said to them: “Ye have continued with Me in My temptations,
and I appoint you a kingdom, as I have received a kingdom from My
Father.” They were not perfect men, but they would have died for Him.
They loved Him, they obeyed Him, they followed Him. They had left all,
and for three years they had been following hard after Christ. You say “Tell
me what Christ wants of me, if I am to have his wonderful presence. Tell
me what is the character of the man to whom Christ will reveal Himself in
this highest and fullest way?” I answer: “It is the one who is ready to

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

forsake all and to follow Him.” If Christ is to give Himself wholly to me,
He must know that He has me wholly for Himself; and I trust God will give
grace that these words spoken about the consecration and the surrender, not
only of all evil, but of many lawful things, and even, if necessary, of life
itself, may lead us to understand what the demand is that Jesus makes upon
us.

The motto of the Cape General Mission is,

“God first.”

In one sense that is a beautiful motto, and yet I am not always satisfied with
it, because it is a motto that is often misunderstood. God first may mean “I”
second, something else third, and something else fourth. God is thus first in
order, but still God becomes one of a series of powers, and that is not the
place God wants. The meaning of the words, “God first” is really “God all;
God everything;” and that is what Christ wants. To be willing to give up
everything, to submit to Christ to teach him what to say and what to do, is
the first mark of the man to whom Christ will come. Are you not ready to
take this step and say: “Jesus! I do give up everything; I have given up
everything; reveal Thyself.”

Oh, brother! oh, sister! do not hesitate. Speak it out in your heart, and let
this be the time in which a new sacrifice shall be laid at the feet of the
blessed Lamb of God.

There is a second thought. There is first the idea of having forsaken all to
follow Him; of having given up everything in obedience to Him, and living
just a life of simple love and obedience. But there is a second thing needed
in the man who is to have this full revelation of Christ. He must be

Convicted of his unbelief.

“Oh! fools, and slow of heart to believe what the prophets have said.” Oh!
brother, sister, if we could have a sight of the amount of unbelief in the
hearts of God’s children, barring the door and closing the heart against

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Christ, how we should stand astonished and ashamed! When there is not
unbelief but where there is faith, Christ cannot help coming in. He cannot
help coming where there is a living faith, a full faith. The heart is opened,
the heart is prepared; and as naturally as water runs into a hollow place, so
naturally Christ must come into a heart that is full of faith. What is the
hindrance with some earnest souls, who say: “I have given myself up to the
Lord Jesus. I have done it often, and by His grace I am doing it every day,
and God knows how earnestly and really I am doing it, and I have the
sanction of God upon it, I know God has blessed me”? They have not been
convicted of their unbelief. “Oh! fools, and slow of heart to believe.” Do
you know what Christ said about a man calling his brother a fool? Yet here
the loving Son of God could find no other word to speak to His beloved
disciples: “Oh! fools, and slow of heart to believe.” You want the Lord
Jesus to give you this full revelation of Himself? Are you willing to
acknowledge that you are a fool for never having believed in Him? “Lord
Jesus, it is my own fault. There Thou art, longing to have possession of me.
There Thou hast been with Thy faithful promises waiting to reveal
Thyself.”

Did you ever hear of a man loving another and not longing to reveal
himself? Christ longs to reveal Himself, but He cannot on account of our
unbelief. May God convict us of our unbelief that we may get utterly
ashamed and broken down, and cry, “Oh, my God, what is this, this heart of
unbelief actually throwing a barrier across the door that Christ cannot step
in, blinding my eyes that I cannot see Jesus, though he is so near? Here He
has been for ten or twenty years, from time to time giving me the burning
heart, enjoying the experience of a little of His love and grace, and yet I
have not had the revelation of Him, taking possession of my heart and
dwelling with me in unbroken continuity.” Oh! may God convict us of
unbelief. Do let us believe because all things are possible to him that
believes. That is God’s word, and this blessing, receiving the revelation of
Jesus, can come only to those who learn to believe and to trust him.

There is another mark of those to whom this special revelation of Christ
will come, and that is,

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They do not rest until they obtain it.

You know the story. Their hearts were burning as they drew nigh to the
place they were going to, and Christ made as if He were going farther. He
put them to the test, and if they had allowed Him quietly to go on, if they
had been content with the experience of the burning heart, they would have
lost something infinitely better. But they were not content with it. They
were not content to go home to the disciples that night and say, “Oh, what a
blessed afternoon we have had! What wonderful teaching we have had!”
No! The burning heart and the blessed experience just made them say,
“Lord, abide with us,” and they compelled Him to come in. They
constrained Him to come in.

It always reminds me of the story of Jacob, “I will not let Thee go, except
Thou bless me.” That is the spirit that prepares us for the revelation of
Jesus. Oh! my dear friend, has this been the spirit in which we have looked
upon the wonderful blessing that we have sometimes heard of? “Oh! my
Lord Jesus, though I do not understand it, though I cannot grasp it, though
my struggles avail nothing, I am not going to let Thee go. If it is possible
for a sinner on earth to have Jesus every day, every hour, and every
moment in resurrection power dwelling in his heart, shining within him,
filling him with love and joy,–if that is possible, I want it.”

Is that your language?

Oh! come then and say: “Lord Jesus, I cannot let Thee go except Thou bless
me.” The question is asked so often: “What is the cause of the feeble life of
so many Christians?” What is really the matter? What is actually the want?

How little the Church responds to Christ’s call! how little the Church is
what Christ would have her to be! What is the cause of all the trouble?
Various answers may be given, but there is one answer which includes all
the other answers, and that is, each believer wants the personal

Full revelation of a personal Christ

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as an indwelling Lord, as a satisfying portion. When the Lord Jesus was
here upon earth, what was it that distinguished His disciples from other
people? He took them away from their fish-nets, and from their homes, and
He gathered them about Himself, and they knew Jesus. He was their
Master, and guarded them, and they followed Him. And what is to make a
difference between Christ’s disciples–not those who are just hoping to get
to heaven, but Christ’s whole-hearted disciples–what is to make a
difference between them and other people? It is this, to be in fellowship
with Jesus–every hour of the day; and just as Christ upon earth was able to
keep those people with Him for three years, day by day, so

Christ is able

in heaven now to do what He could not do when He was on earth–to keep
in the closest fellowship with every believer throughout the whole world.
Glory be to God! You know that text in Ephesians: “He that descended is
the same also that ascended, that He might fill all things.” Why was my
Lord Jesus taken up to heaven away from the life of earth? Because the life
of earth is a life confined to localities, but the life in heaven is a life in
which there is no limit and no bound and no locality, and Christ was taken
up to heaven, that, in the power of God, of the omnipresent God, He might
be able to fill every individual here and be with every individual believer.

That is what my heart wants to realize by faith; that is a possibility, that is a
promise, that is my birthright, and I want to have it, and I want by the grace
of God to say, “Jesus, I will not rest until Thou hast revealed Thyself fully
to my soul.”

There are often very blessed experiences in the Christian life in what I call
the third stage–the stage of the burning heart. Do you know what another
great mark of that stage is? Delight in God’s word. How did the disciples
get their burning hearts? By that strange opening of the Scripture to them.
He made it all look different,–new,–and they saw what they had never seen
before. They could not help feeling,

How wonderful,

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

how heavenly was that teaching. Oh! there are many Christians who find
the best time of the day is the time when they can get with their Bibles, and
who love nothing so much as to get a new thought; and as a diamond digger
rejoices when he has found a diamond, or a gold digger when he has found
a nugget, they delight when they get from the Bible some new thought, and
they feed upon it. Yet with all that interest in God’s word, and with all that
stirring of the heart with joy, when they go into business or attend to their
daily duties, there is still something wanting.

We must come away from all the manifold and multifarious blessings that
Jesus can bestow from time to time, to the blessed unity of that one–that
Jesus makes Himself known, Jesus Himself is willing to make Himself
known. Oh! if I were to ask, “Is not this just what you and I want, and what
many of us have been longing for?” I am sure you would answer,

“That is what I want.”

Think what the blessedness will be that comes from it. You often sing:-

“Oh! the peace my Saviour gives! Peace I never knew before, And my way
has brighter grown, Since I’ve learnt to trust Him more.”

I recently had a letter from some one in the Free State saying what a
wonderful comfort and strength that little verse was in the midst of
difficulties and troubles. Yes; but how can that peace be kept? It was the
presence of Christ that brought the peace. When the storm was threatening
to swallow up the disciples, it was the presence of Christ Himself that gave
the peace.

Oh! Christian, do you want peace and rest? You must have Jesus Himself.
You talk of purity, you talk of cleansing, you talk of deliverance from sin.
Praise God, here is the deliverance and the cleansing, when the living Jesus
comes and gives power. Then we have this resurrection of Christ, this
heavenly Christ upon the throne, making Himself known to us. Surely that
will be the secret of purity and the secret of strength.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

Where does the strength of so many come from? From the joy of a personal
friendship with Jesus. Those disciples, if they had gone away with their
burning hearts to the other disciples, could have told them wonderful things
of a man who had explained to them the Scriptures and the promises, but
they could not have said, “We have seen Jesus.” They might have said,
“Jesus is alive. We are sure of that,” but that would not have satisfied the
others. But they could now go and say,

“We have seen Himself.

He has revealed Himself to us.” We are all glad to work for Christ, but
there is a complaint throughout the Church of Christ, from the ministers in
the pulpit down to the feeblest worker, of lack of joy and lack of
blessedness. Let us try and find out whether this is not the place where the
secret will be discovered–that the Lord Jesus comes and shows Himself to
us as our Master and speaks to us. When we have Jesus with us, and when
we go every footstep with the thought that it is Jesus wants us to go, it is
Jesus who sends us and is helping us, then there will be brightness in our
testimony, and it will help other believers, and they will begin to
understand; “I see why I have failed. I took the word, I took the blessing,
and I took, as I thought, the life, but I was without the living Jesus.”

And if you now ask, “How will this revelation come?” Brother, sister, that
is the secret that no man may tell, that Jesus keeps to Himself. It is

In the power of the Holy Ghost;

Christ, the risen One, entered into a new life. His resurrection life is
entirely different from His life before His death. You know what we read:
“They knew Him.” He revealed Himself, and then He passed away. And
was that vision of Christ worth so much? It was lost in a moment. It was
worth heaven, eternity, everything. Why? Because henceforth Christ was
no longer to be known after the flesh. Christ was henceforth in the power of
the Spirit, which fills Heaven; in the power of the Spirit which is the power
of the Godhead; in the power of the Spirit, which fills our hearts. Christ
was henceforth to live in the life of Heaven.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

Thank God, Christ can by the power of the Holy Ghost reveal Himself to
each one of us; but oh! brother, it is a secret thing between Christ and
yourself. Take this assurance, “Their eyes were opened and they knew
Him,” and believe that it is written for you.

You say, “I have known the other three stages; the stage of the sad heart,
mourning that I knew no living Christ; I have known the stage of the slow
heart to believe, when I struggled with my unbelief; and I know the stage of
the burning heart, when there are great times of joy and blessedness.” You
say that? Oh come then and know the fourth stage of

The satisfied heart,

of the heart made glad for eternity, of the heart that cannot keep its joy in,
but goes away back to Jerusalem, and says, “It is true. Jesus has revealed
Himself. I know it, I feel it.” Oh! brother, oh! sister, how will this
revelation come? Jesus will tell you. Just come to the Lord Jesus and
breathe up before Him a simple child-like prayer, and I, His servant, will
come and take you by the hand and say: “Come, now, my work is done. I
have pointed to the Lamb of God, to the risen One. My work is done.”

Let us enter into the Holy Presence and begin, if you have never yet sought
it before, begin to plead: “Oh! Saviour, that I might have this blessedness
every moment present with me–Jesus Himself, my portion forever.”

“Jesus Himself.”

“Lo, I am with you alway.”

When I think of all the struggles and difficulties and failures of which many
complain, and know that many are trying to make a new effort to begin a
holy life, their hearts fearing all the time that they would fail again, owing
to so many difficulties and temptations and the natural weakness of their
character, my heart longs to be able to tell them in words so simple that a

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

little child could understand,

What the secret is of the Christian life.

And then the thought comes to me, Can I venture to hope that it will be
given to me to take that glorious, heavenly, divine Lord Jesus and to show
Him to these souls, so that they can see Him in His glory? And can it be
given to me to open their eyes to see that there is a Divine, Almighty
Christ, who does actually come into the heart and who faithfully promises,
“I will come and dwell with you, and I will never leave you?” No; my
words cannot do that. But then I thought, my Lord Jesus can use me as a
simple servant to take such feeble ones by the hand and encourage and help
them; to say, Oh, come, come, come, into the presence of Jesus and wait on
Him, and He will reveal Himself to thee. I pray God that He may use His
precious Word. It is simply

The presence of the Lord Jesus.

That is the secret of the Christian’s strength and joy. You know that when
He was upon earth, He was present in bodily form with his disciples. They
walked about together all day, and at night they went into the same house,
and sometimes slept together and ate and drank together. They were
continually together. It was the presence of Jesus that was the training
school of His disciples. They were bound to Him by that wonderful
intercourse of love during three long years, and in that intercourse they
learned to know Christ, and Christ instructed and corrected them, and
prepared them for what they were afterward to receive. And now when He
is going away, He says to them: “Lo, behold, I am with you always–all the
days–even unto the end of the world.”

What a promise! And just as really as Christ was with Peter in the boat, just
as Christ sat with John at the table, as really can I have Christ with me. And
more really, for they had their Christ in the body and He was to them a
man, an individual separate from them, but I may have glorified Christ in
the power of the throne of God, the omnipotent Christ, the omnipresent
Christ.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

What a promise! You ask me, How can that be? And my answer is,
Because Christ is God, and because Christ after having been made man,
went up into the throne and the Life of God. And now that blessed Christ
Jesus, with His loving, pierced heart; that blessed Jesus Christ, who lived
upon earth; that same Christ glorified into the glory of God, can be in me
and

Can be with me all the days.

You say, Is it really possible for a man in business, for a woman in the
midst of a large and difficult household, for a poor man full of care; is it
possible? Can I always be thinking of Jesus? Thank God, you need not
always be thinking of Him. You may be the manager of a bank, and your
whole attention may be required to carry out the business that you have to
do. But thank God, while I have to think of my business, Jesus will think of
me, and He will come in and will take charge of me. That little child, three
months old, as it sleeps in its mother’s arms, lies helplessly there; it hardly
knows its mother, it does not think of her, but the mother thinks of the
child. And this is the blessed mystery of love, that Jesus the God-man waits
to come in to me in the greatness of His love; and as He gets possession of
my heart, He embraces me in those divine arms and tells me, “My child, I
the Faithful One, I the Mighty One will abide with thee, will watch over
thee and keep thee all the days.” He tells me He will come into my heart, so
that I can be a happy Christian, a holy Christian, and a useful Christian.
You say, Oh! if I could only believe that, if I could think that it is possible
to have Christ always, every hour, every moment with me,

Taking and keeping charge of me!

My brother, my sister, it is just literally this that is my message to you.
When Jesus said to His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always,” He meant it
in the fullness of the divine Omnipresence, in the fullness of the divine
love, and he longs to-night to reveal Himself to you and to me as we have
never seen Him before.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

And now just think a moment what a blessed life that must be–the presence
of Jesus always abiding. Is not that the secret of peace and happiness? If I
could just attain (that is what each heart says) to that blessed state in which
every day and all the day I felt Jesus to be watching and ever keeping me,
oh, what peace I would have in the thought, “I have no care if He cares for
me, and I have no fear if He provides for me.” Your heart says that this is
too good to be true, and that it is too glorious to be for you. Still you
acknowledge it must be most blessed. Fearful one, erring one, anxious one,
I bring you God’s promise, it is for me and for you. Jesus will do it; as God,
He is able, and Jesus is willing and longing as the Crucified One to keep
you in perfect peace. This is a wonderful fact, and it is the secret of joy
unspeakable.

And this is also

The secret of Holiness.

Instead of indwelling sin, an indwelling Christ conquering it; instead of
indwelling sin, the indwelling life and light and love of the blessed Son of
God. He is the secret of holiness. “Christ is made unto us sanctification.”
Remember that it is Christ Himself who is made unto us sanctification.
Christ coming into me, taking charge of my whole being; my nature and
my thoughts and my affections and my will; ruling all things. It is this that
will make me holy. We talk about holiness, but do you know what holiness
is? You have as much holiness as you have of Christ, for it is written, “Both
he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one;” and Christ
sanctifies by bringing God’s life into me.

We read in Judges, “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.” But you know
that there is in the New Testament an equally wonderful text, where we
read, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” that is, clothe yourself with Christ
Jesus. And what does that mean? It does not only mean, by imputation of
righteousness outside of me, but to clothe myself with the living character
of the living Christ, with the living love of the living Christ.

Put on the Lord Jesus.

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Oh! what a work. I cannot do it unless I believe and understand that He
whom I have to put on is as a garment covering my whole being. I have to
put on a living Christ who has said, “Lo, I am with you all the days.” Just
draw the folds closer round you, of that robe of light with which Christ
would array you. Just come and acknowledge that Christ is with you, on
you, in you. Oh, put Him on! And when you look at one characteristic of
His after another; and you hear God’s word, “Let this mind be in you which
was also in Jesus Christ,” and it tells you He was obedient unto the death;
and then you answer, Christ the obedient one, Christ whose whole life was
obedience, it is that Christ whom I have received and put on. He becomes
my life and His obedience rests upon me, until I learn to whisper as Jesus
did, “My Father, Thy will be done; lo, I come to do Thy will.”

This, too, is the secret of influence in witness and work. How comes it that
it is so

Difficult to be obedient,

and how comes it that I so often sin? People sing, “Oh, to be wholly Thine,”
and sing it from their hearts. How comes it then that they are disobedient
again? Where does the disobedience come from? And the answer comes, It
is because I am trying to obey a distant Christ, and thus His commands do
not come with power. Look what I find in God’s Word. When God wanted
to send any man upon His service, He first met him and talked with him
and cheered him time after time. God appeared to Abraham seven or eight
times, and gave to him one command after another; and so Abraham
learned to obey Him perfectly. God appeared to Joshua and to Gideon, and
they obeyed. And why are we not obedient? Because we have so little of
this near intercourse with Jesus. But, oh, if we knew

This blessed, heavenly secret

of having the presence of Christ with us every day, every hour, every
minute, what a joy it would be to obey! We could not walk in this
consciousness,–My Lord Jesus is with me and around me,–and not obey
Him! Oh, do you not begin to long and say, This is what I must have, the

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

ever-abiding presence of Jesus! There are some Christians who try not to be
disobedient, who come to their Sunday and week-day duties most
faithfully, and pray for grace and a blessing, and they complain of so little
blessing and power, so little power! And why? Because there is not enough
of the living Jesus in their hearts. I sometimes think of this as a most
solemn truth. There is a great diversity of gifts amongst ministers and
others who speak; but I am sure of this, that a man’s gifts are not the
measure of his real power. I am sure of this, that God can see what neither
you nor I can see. Sometimes people feel something of it; but in proportion
as a man has in reality, not as a sentiment or an aspiration, or a thought, but
in reality, the very spirit and presence of Jesus upon him, there comes out
from him an unseen silent influence. That secret influence is the

Holy presence of Jesus.

“Lo, I am with you always.” And now, if what I have said has sufficed just
to indicate what a desirable thing it is, what a blessed thing it is to live for,
then let me now give you an answer to the question that arises in more than
one heart. I can hear some one say, “Tell me how I can get this blessed
abiding presence of Jesus; and when I have got it, how I can ever keep it. I
think if I have this, I have all. The Lord Jesus has come very near to me. I
have tried to turn away from everything that can hinder, and have had my
Lord very near. But how can I know that He will be with me always?” If
you were to ask the Lord, “Oh, my blessed Lord Christ, what must I do,
how can I enjoy Thy never-failing presence?” His first answer would be,
“Only believe. I have said it often, and you only partly understood it, but I
will say it again-

My child, only believe.”

It is by faith. We sometimes speak of faith as trust, and it is a very helpful
thing to tell men that faith is trust: but when people say, as they sometimes
do, that it is nothing else but trust, that is not the case. It is a far wider word
than trust. It is by faith that I learn to know the invisible One, the invisible
God, and that I see Him. Faith is my spiritual eye-sight for the unseen and
heavenly. You often try hard to trust God, and you fail. Why? Because you

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have not taken time first to see God. How can you trust God fully until you
have met Him and known Him? You ask, “Where ought I to begin?” You
ought to begin with first believing; with presenting yourself before this God
in the attitude of silent worship, and asking Him to let a sense of His
greatness and His presence come upon you. You must ask Him to let your
heart be covered over with his holy presence. You must seek to realize in
your heart the presence of an Almighty and all-loving God, an unspeakably
loving God. Take time to worship Him as the omnipotent God, to feel that
the very power that created the world, the very power that raised Jesus from
the dead, is at this moment working in your heart. We do not experience it
because we do not believe. We must take time to believe. Jesus says, “Oh,
my child, shut your eyes to the world, and shut out of your heart all these
thoughts about religion, and begin to believe in God Himself.” That is the
first article of the Creed–“I believe in God.”

By believing I open my heart,

to receive this glorious God, and I bow and worship. And then as I believe
this, I look up and I see the Lamb upon the Throne, and I believe that the
Almighty power of God is in Jesus for the very purpose of revealing His
presence to my heart. Why are there two upon the Throne? Is not God
enough? The Lamb of God is upon the Throne in your interest and in mine;
the Lamb upon the Throne is Christ Himself, with power as God to take
possession of me. Oh, do not think you cannot get that realization. And do
not think of it as now only within your reach; but cultivate the habit of
faith. “Jesus, I believe in Thy glory; I believe in Thine omnipotence; I
believe in Thy power working within me. I believe in Thy living, loving
presence with me, revealing itself in Divine power.”

Do not be occupied with feelings or experiences. You will find it far
simpler and easier just to trust and say, “I am sure He is all for me.” Get rid
of yourself for the time; don’t think or speak about yourself; but

Think what Jesus is.

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And then remember it is believe always. I sometimes feel that I cannot find
words to tell how God wants His people to believe from morning till night.
Every breath ought to be just believing. Yes, it is indeed true; the Lord
Jesus loves us to be just believing from morning to evening, and you must
begin to make that the chief thing in life. In the morning when you wake,
let your heart go forth with a large faith in this; and in the watches of the
night let this thought be present with you–my Saviour Jesus is round me
and near me, and you can look up and say, “I want to trust Thee always.”
You know what trust is. It is so sweet to trust. And now cannot you trust
Jesus; this presence, this keeping presence? He lives for you in Heaven.
You are marked with His blood, and he loves you; and cannot you say, “My
King, my King, He is with me all the days?” Oh, trust Jesus to fulfill His
own promises.

There is a second answer that I think Christ would give if we come to Him
believing, and say, “Is there anything more, my blessed Master?” I think I
can hear His answer:

“My child, always obey.”

Do not fail to understand the lesson contained in this one word. You must
distinctly and definitely take that word OBEY and obedience, and learn to
say for yourselves: “Now I have to obey, and by the grace of God I am
going to obey in everything.” At our recent exhibition at the Cape, Mr.
Rhodes, our Prime Minister, went to the gate, thinking he had got the fee in
his pocket. When he got to the gate, however, he found he had not enough
money, and said to the door-keeper, “I am Mr. Rhodes; let me in and I will
take care you do not suffer.” But the man said, “I cannot help that, sir, I
have my orders,” and he refused to let Mr. Rhodes in. He had to borrow
from a friend, and pay before he could pass the gate. At a dinner afterward
Mr. Rhodes spoke about it, and said it was a real joy to see a man stick to
his order like that. That is it. The man had his orders, and that was enough
to him, and whoever came to the gate had to pay his fee before he could
enter. God’s children ought to be like soldiers, and be

Ready to say, “I must obey.”

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

Oh! to have that thought in our hearts–“Jesus, I love to obey Thee.” There
must be personal intercourse with the Saviour, and then comes the joy of
personal service and allegiance. Are you ready to obey in all feebleness and
weakness and fear? Can you say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I will obey?” If so, then
give yourself up absolutely. Then your feeling will be, “I am not going to
speak one word if I think that Jesus would not like to hear it. I am not going
to have an opinion of my own, but my whole life is to be covered with the
purity of His obedience to the Father and His self-sacrificing love to me. I
want Christ to have my whole life, my whole heart, my whole character. I
want to be like Christ and to obey.” Give yourself up to this loving
obedience.

The third thought is this: If I say, “My Master, blessed Saviour, tell me all, I
will believe, I do obey, and I will obey. Is there anything more I need to
secure the enjoyment of Thine abiding presence?” And I catch this answer:

“My child, close intercourse with me every day.”

Ah, there is the fault of many who try to obey and try to believe; they do it
in their own strength, and they do not know that if the Lord Jesus is to reign
in their hearts, they must have close communion with Him every day. You
cannot do all He desires, but Jesus will do it for you. There are many
Christians who fail here, and on that account do not understand what it is to
have fellowship with Jesus. Do let me try and impress this upon you: God
has given you a loving, living Saviour, and how can He bless if you do not
meet Him? The joy of friendship is found in intercourse; and Jesus asks for
this every day, that he may have time to influence me, to tell me of
Himself, to teach me, to breathe His Spirit unto me, to give me new life and
joy and strength. And remember, intercourse with Jesus

Does not mean half-an-hour

or an hour in your closet. A man may study his Bible or his commentary
carefully; he may look up all the parallel passages in the chapter; when he
comes out of his closet he may be able to tell you all about it, and yet he
has never met Jesus that morning at all. You have prayed for five or ten

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

minutes, and you have never met Jesus. And so we must remember that
though the Bible is most precious, and the reading of it most blessed and
needful; yet prayer and Bible reading are not fellowship with Jesus. What
we need every morning is to meet Jesus, and to say, “Lord, here is the day
again, and I am just as weak in myself as ever I was; do Thou come and
feed me this morning with Thyself and speak to my soul.” Oh, friends, it is
not your faith that will keep you standing, but it is a living Jesus, met

Every day in fellowship

and worship and love. Wait in His presence, however cold and faithless you
feel. Wait before Him and say: “Lord, helpless as I am, I believe and rest in
the blessed assurance that what Thou hast promised Thou wilt do for me.”

I ask my Master once again, “Lord Jesus, is that all?” And his answer is:
“No, my child; I have one thing more.” “And what is that? Thou hast told
me to believe, and to obey, and to abide near to Thee: what wouldst Thou
have more?”

“Work for me my child.

Remember, I have redeemed thee for My service; I have redeemed thee to
have a witness to go out into the world confessing Me before men.” Oh, do
not hide your treasure, or think that if Jesus is with you, you can hide it.
One of two things will happen–either you must give all up, or it must come
out. You have perhaps heard of the little girl, who, after one of Mr.
Moody’s meetings, was found to be singing some of the hymns we all
know. The child’s parents were in a good position in society, and while
singing those hymns in the drawing-room her mother forbade her. One day
she was singing the hymn “Oh, I’m so glad that Jesus loves me,” when her
mother said, “My child, how is it that you sing this when I have forbidden
it?” She replied, “Oh, mother, I cannot help it; it comes out of itself.” If
Jesus Christ be in the heart, He must come out. Remember, it is not only
our duty to confess Him; it is that, but it is something more. If you do not
do it, it is just an indication that you have not given yourself up to Jesus;
your character, your reputation, your all. You are holding back from Him.

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

You must confess Jesus in the world, in your home; and in fact everywhere.
You know the Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the
Gospel to every creature;” “and, lo, I am with you,” meaning, “Any one
may work for Me, and I will be with him.” It is true of the minister, the
missionary, and every believer who works for Jesus. The presence of Jesus
is intimately connected with work for Him. You say, “I have never thought
of that before. I have my Sunday work, but during the week I am not doing
work for Him.” You cannot have the presence of Jesus, and let this continue
to be the case. I do not believe you could have the presence of Jesus all the
week and yet do nothing for Him; therefore my advice is, work for Him
who is worthy, His blessing and His presence will be found in the work. It
is

A blessed privilege to work for Christ

in this perishing world. Oh, why is it that our hearts often feel so cold and
closed up, and so many of us say, “I do not feel called to Christ’s work”? Be
willing to yield yourself for the Lord’s service, and He will reveal Himself
to you.

Christ comes with His wondrous promise, and what He says, He says to all
believers: “Lo, I am with you always; that is My promise; this is what I in
My power can do; this is what I faithfully engage to perform; will you have
it?

I give Myself to thee, O soul.”

To each of those who have come to Him, Christ says, “I give Myself to
thee, to be absolutely and wholly thine every hour of every day; to be with
thee and in thee every moment, to bless thee and sustain thee, and to give
thee each moment the consciousness of My presence; I will be wholly,
wholly, wholly thine.”

And now, what is the other side? He wants me to be wholly His. Are you
ready to take this as your motto now,

‘Jesus Himself’, by Andrew Murray

“Wholly for God”?

O God, breathe Thou Thy presence in my heart that Thou mayest shine
forth from my life. “Wholly for God,” let this be our motto. Come let us
cast ourselves on our faces before His feet. Our missionary from
Nyassaland says he has often been touched by seeing how the native
Christians, when they are brought to Jesus, do not stand in prayer; they do
not kneel; but they cast themselves upon the earth with their foreheads to
the ground, and there they lie, and with loud voices cry unto God. I
sometimes feel that I wish we could do that ourselves; but we need not do it
literally. Let us do it in spirit, for the everlasting Son of God has come into
our hearts. Are you going to take Him and to keep Him there, to give Him
glory and let Him have His way? Come now and say, “I will seek Thee
with my whole heart; I am wholly Thine.” Yield yourself entirely to Him to
have complete possession. He will take and keep possession. Come now.
Jesus delights in the worship of His Saints. Our whole life can become one
continuous act of worship and work of love and joy, if we only remember
and value this, that Jesus has said, “Lo, I am with you all the days, even
unto the end of the world.”

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We Would See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession


We Would See Jesus
Roy and Revel Hession
Christian Literature Crusade
P. O. Box1449 Fort Washington, PA 19034

We Would See Jesus
This book was produced by the Christian Literature Crusade. We hope it has been helpful to you in living the Christian life. CLC is a literature mission with ministry in over 40 countries worldwide. if you would like to know more about us, or are interested in opportunities to serve with a faith mission, we invite you to write to:

Christian Literature Crusade P. O. Box1449 Fort Washington, PA 19034

PREFACE

This is a book that seeks to be simply about the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

We Would See Jesus is somewhat of an amplification of The Calvary Road, which was published in 1950 and which God has been pleased to bless to many in various parts of the world. We believe that this book will be found to carry on from where the other left off.

The first book dealt with various aspects of the Christian life and revival, such as brokenness, fullness, fellowship, and so on. It is, of course, helpful to have Christian experience dealt with aspect by aspect. We have since learned, however, that we do not need to itemize the Christian life it is enough to see Jesus. Seeing Him we are convicted of sin, broken, cleansed, filled with the Spirit, set free from bondage, and revived. Each aspect of Christian experience is made real m us just by seeing Him. He is both the Blessing we all seek and the easy accessible Way to that blessing. If we concentrate on trying to make a certain aspect of things “work”, it will become a formula for us and will only lead us into bondage. But the Lord Jesus has come to take from us every yoke of bondage and to set us free to serve Him in the freshness and spontaneity of the Spirit, and all that by the simple sight of Him which the Holy Spirit gives to the eye of faith.

We would see Jesus, this is all we’re needing;
Strength, joy, and willingness come with the sight;
We would see Jesus, dying, risen, pleading;
Then welcome day, and are well mortal night.

This, then, is the direction and theme of the present book Jesus. However, we cannot pretend that it is a complete treatment of such a theme. The reader will find much that has not been touched upon. But, as we have said, it is enough to see Jesus and to go on seeing Him. As we do so, we shall see everything else we need to see, as we need to see it, and all in its right relation to Him, who must ever be for us the center.

6

Two words occur again and again in the following pages, and they are used in a special sense. As we have not thought it right to interrupt the flow of thought with chapters to amplify their meaning, we think it well to insert something here as to the sense in which these words are used.

The first is the word “grace”. So often people speak of this as some blessing which we receive from God at special times. We have, however, sought to use it in the strictly New Testament sense of the word. There, it is the great word of our salvation and of all God’s dealings with us; for it is written, “By grace are ye saved through faith. ” Nothing is more important than that we should apprehend its meaning in both our minds and experience. Missing this, we miss everything. In the New Testament grace is not a blessing or an influence from God which we receive, but rather an attribute of God which governs His attitude to man, and can be defined as the undeserved love and favor of God. Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. ” The whole essence of grace is that it is undeserved. The moment we have to do something to make ourselves more acceptable to God, or the moment we have to have a certain feeling or attribute of character in order to be blessed of God, then grace is no more grace. Grace permits us to come (nay, demands that we come) as empty sinners to be blessed, empty of right feelings, good character, and satisfactory record, with nothing to commend ourselves but our deep need, fully and frankly acknowledged. Then grace, being what it is, is drawn by that need to satisfy it, just as water is drawn to depth that it might fill it. This means that when at last we are content to find no merit nor procuring cause in ourselves, and are willing to admit the full extent of our sinfulness, then there is no limit to what Goodwill do for the poor who look to Him in their nothingness. If what we receive from God is dependent, even to a small extent, on what we are or do, then the most we can expect is but an intermittent trickle of blessing. But if what we are to receive is to be measured by the grace of God quite apart from works,

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then there is only one word that adequately describes what He pours upon us, the word which so often is linked with grace in the New Testament, “abundance”! The struggle, of course, is to believe it and to be willing to be but empty sinners to the end of our days, that grace may continue to match our needs.

When we come to the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving has only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

This, then, is grace and this is God! What a melting vision this gives us of Him! The other word that needs a little explanation as to its use in these pages is the word “revival”. The popular sense in which this word is used is that of a general and more or less spectacular movement of the Holy Spirit, in which many are saved and the Church built up. That this is a legitimate use of the word we would not deny, but we have used it throughout in the sense of the work of God which He does firstly in the lives of believers, and which is both personal and immediate for each believer who recognizes the decline there has been in his Christian experience, who bows to the dealings of God with him, and who sees Jesus as all he needs and believingly apprehends Him as such. It is simply this that lies at the heart of even the most spectacular movements of revival. After all, what are such movements but the communication of this life to ever increasing numbers? And what does God use to this end but the radiant testimonies of the revived themselves? It is plain, then, that our first responsibility is to be revived ourselves, and to give our testimony to those around us. We can trust God, then, to fit us and the life He is giving us into whatever corporate movement of His Spirit that He pleases. May God grant that every reader have an abundant fulfillment of the longing, expressed long ago by the Greeks to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12: 21).

Roy and Revel Hession

9

CHAPTER I
SEEING GOD THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.

What is the purpose of life? This is the one question to which most of us are longing to find the answer. We find ourselves driven and pulled in different directions by inner urges, longings, and desires which we do not seem able to satisfy. We look enviously at others and imagine that their lives are much fuller and more satisfying than ours. We think that if we could gain this prize or enjoy that pleasure, we should be truly, satisfied; but when at last we do achieve those prizes or pleasures we find that we are no happier than we were before. And the older we grow, the more frustrated we feel, and we find ourselves asking “What is the purpose of life? How can I find it? How can I be sure it is the right one?” These are questions to which many a professing Christian yet needs to end the answer, as well as the man who has no knowledge of God.

However, when we turn to the Bible we find a clear and simple answer to this fundamental question. It plainly states that there is but one purpose for mankind, and that purpose is the same, whatever our sex, our age, our nationality, or status in society.

“What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him”(Deut. 10:12).

“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to . . . humble thyself to walk with thy God” (Mic. 6:8 (margin)).

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30).

It appears, therefore, that the Bible answer to the question,

10

“What is the purpose of life?” is to know, and to love, and to walk with God; that is, to see God. Indeed, men in former times came to speak of “the end of life” as being the “Vision of God”. The divines who in the seventeenth century produced the Westminster Confession answered the question, “What is the chief end of man?” with the words, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.”

Today, however, we do not hear much about the need to see God. It is only as we turn the pages of the past that we become aware of our lack of this emphasis, both in preaching and in living the Gospel. In former days, we find, even in times of spiritual darkness, that there were always some who were gripped by a consuming passions the longing to see God. For them there was only one goal, to know their God. They were heart thirsty, and they knew that God alone could satisfy their thirst. As we read of their search for God, we find some traveling along strange paths. We see them living in desert or cave, or withdrawing to the monastery. In their desire for that holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. I2:I4), they might strip themselves of every earthly possession, or mortify their bodies by self inflicted torture. They were sometimes fanatical, sometimes morbidly introspective. We look back on many of them now as poor, misguided souls who were in bondage to legalism and asceticism. But let us always remember that these things were done in the longing and search for God, and that their emphasis was on personal holiness in order to see God.

At the present time the situation is very different. We have much more light on the Bible and the message of the Gospel, and we look back rather despairingly on many of these seekers of old. But the solemnizing fact is this, that the coming of more light has not brought an increasing passion to see God. In fact, it seems to have had the reverse effect. That deep hunger for God Himself a patently lacking, and it would appear that we have lowered our goal in the Christian life to something less than God Himself.

Two emphases stand out today.

First of all, instead of stressing holiness in order to see God, the emphasis is on service for God.

11

We have come to think of the Christian life as consisting in serving God as fully and as efficiently as we can. Techniques and methods, by which we hope to make God’s message known, have become the important thing. To carry out this service we need power, and so instead of a longing for God, our longing is for power to serve Him more effectively. So much has service become the center of our thinking that very often a man’s rightness with God is judged by his success or otherwise in his Christian work.

Then there tends to be today an emphasis on the seeking of inner spiritual experiences. While so many Christians are content to live at a very low level, it is good that some do become concerned about their Christian lives, and it is right that they should. However, the concern arises not so much from a hunger for God, but from a longing to find an inner experience of happiness, joy, and power, and we find ourselves looking for “it”, rather than God Himself.

Both these ends fall utterly short of the great end that God has designed for man, that of glorifying Him and enjoying Him for ever. They fail to satisfy God’s heart and they fail to satisfy ours.

*******************************

To understand why the seeing of God should be the main goal of life and why He should make such a claim on us, we must turn our minds back to the very dawn of history.

The story of man began when God, who is complete in Himself and therefore could have no needs, deliberately chose, it would seem, to be incomplete without creatures of His own creating. “Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:II). It was for this purpose and no other, that of existing for the pleasure of God, that man was brought into being. He was intended to be the delight of God and the object of His affection. On man’s side, the basis of that original relationship was that it was completely God centerd. Man knew that he had only been created to delight God, and his only concern was to respond to the Divine affection, to live for Him, and to do His will. It was his joy

12

continually to submit his will and desires to those of his Creator, and in nothing to be independent of Him. As he thus lived in submission to God, every need in man’s nature was satisfied by God. As C. S. Lewis puts it in describing that early unfallen relationship, “In perfect cyclic movement, being, power and joy descended from God to man in the form of gift and returned from man to God in the form of obedient love and ecstatic adoration. ” Truly these were the “palmy days” of the human race, when man was as much at home in the unseen realm as in the seen, when the faculty within him called spirit was able to commune with God who is Spirit.

To insist, then, that to see God and be in living relationship with Him is me supreme goal of life is not to insist on anything strange or unnatural. It is the very purpose for which we were recreated, the sole raison d’etre for our being on the earth at all.

More than that, however, for us to see God is the sole purpose of God’s redemption of the world by the Lord Jesus Christ; for man soon lost the Divine purpose for his life, and needed to be redeemed. That loving, submissive relationship with God did not last long. Those walks together in the cool of the day came to an end, for one day sin stalked into the garden. Under the temptation of Satan, who suggested that by a simple act of transgression man could forsake the creaturely position and become “as gods” (Gen. 3: 5), man deliberately chose no longer to be dependent on God. He set himself up on his own, putting himself at the center of his world, where before he had delighted to put God. Thereafter he became a proud, unbroken spirit. No longer would he willingly submit to his Creator; no longer would he recognize that he was made for God. Moreover, on God’s side the foundation of His fellowship with man was destroyed, because God in His holiness could not have fellowship with man who was unholy. There could never be fellowship between light and darkness, between holiness and sin; and man instinctively realized this, for his first reaction was to hide from the presence of the Lord God behind the trees of the garden.

We, too, descendants of those first sinners, are involved in all this. We are born with the same God defiant nature that

13

Adam acquired the day he first sinned. We all start life as “I” specialists, as someone has quaintly put it, and our actions are governed by self interest. Such is the rebellious attitude of man to God’s authority now that the Bible is driven to say” There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). The natural heart defies God and says, “Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?” (Job 21:I4, 15).

Thus did man lose the original Dive purpose of his He. Had God chosen to leave man there, in his alienation and in all the miseries that would inevitably follow, no angel in the sky could have charged Him with injustice, nor even with lack of love. He had already showered upon man His love, and man had thrown that love back in His face. But the love of God was such that, when man had done all that, He yet purposed his recovery, and He stretched out His hand the second time, this time to redeem. To create, God had but to speak, and it was done. But to redeem, He had to bleed. And He did so in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent to take for us the place of death upon the Cross which our sin had so richly deserved. Redemption, however, was no last minute thought, brought into being to meet an unexpected emergency. No sooner had sin entered the garden than God spoke of One who was to come and who was to bruise the serpent’s (that is, Satan’s) head, His own heel being bruised in the process (Gen. 3:I5), and to restore all the damage which sin and Satan had done. God thereby revealed that the sad turn of events had not taken Him by surprise, but that there was One in reserve to meet this very situation. Scripture calls Him “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev.13:8), because with God the remedy antedated the disease. And all this was done with the one purpose of bringing us fallen men with our sinful, proud, unbroken natures back to that relationship with God of submissiveness and God centeredness that was lost in the Fall, and where once more He can delight in us and we in Him.

If to bring us back into this relationship with God is the whole purpose of His creation and then His redemption of us,

14

we can be quite sure that this will be the one great object offal His present dealings with us. If an aeroplane designer designs a plane to fly at a certain altitude and finds that it will not leave the ground, he will bend every effort to make that plane do that for which he designed it. So does God bend every effort to bring us back to Himself. An initial repentance on our part and our conversion to God is only the gateway to the road back to fellowship with Himself. It is only when we get on the road that God can start dealing with our self centered wills, so that, painful though it is to wills “swollen and inflamed by years of usurpation”, we come back to the place of submission and God centeredness. If we will not from our own choice seek Him and want Him, He often has to allow sorrow, suffering, trials, ill health, smashed plans, and failure, so that in our need we will find our need of Him. Such suffering, however, is never punitive, but wholly and only restorative in its intention. It is Love humbling us and drawing us to the place of repentance and to God.

*********************

In the light of all this, we can see how far short the goals we set ourselves, such as service and activity for God and the finding of special inner experiences, fall from the great goal God has purposed for us.

To concentrate on service and activity for God may often actively thwart our attaining of the true goal, God Himself. At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. We feel it is bound to mean more to Him than our experience of Him. Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with God seems selfish and self centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards Himself and our proud, unbroken natures. Christian service of itself can, and so often does, leave our self centered nature untouched. That is why there is scarcely a church, a mission station, or a committee undertaking a special piece of service, that is without an unresolved problem of personal relationships eating out its heart and thwarting its progress.

15

This is because Christian service often gives us opportunities of leadership and position that we could not attain in the secular world, and we quickly fall into pride, self seeking, and ambition. With those things hidden in our hear, we have only to work alongside others, and we find resentment, hardness, criticism, jealousy, and frustration issuing from our hearts. We think we are working for God, but the test of how little of our service is for Him is revealed by our resentment or self pity, when the actions of others, or circumstances, or ill health take it from us!

In this condition we are trying to give to others an answer which we have not truly and deeply found for ourselves. The tragedy is that much of the vast network of Christian activity and service is bent on propagating an answer for people’s needs and problems which few of those propagating it are finding adequate in their own lives. We need to leave our lusting forever larger spheres of Christian service and concentrate unseeing God for ourselves and finding the deep answer for life in Him. Then, even if we are located in the most obscure corner of the globe, the world will make a road to our door to get that answer. Our service of help to our fellows then becomes incidental to our vision of God, and the direct consequence of it.

This does not mean that God does not want us engaged actively in His service. He does; but His purpose is often far different from what we think. Our service, in His mind, is to be far more the potter’s wheel on which He can mould us than the achieving of those spectacular objectives on which we set our hearts. He sees a sharp point in our make up that is continually wounding others. He sees within our hearts the motives of self seeking and pride. He, therefore, allows someone to come and work alongside us who will rub against that sharp point and round it off. Or He allows someone to thwart our plans and to step into our shoes. If we are making service for Him an end in itself we will be full of reactions and will want to fight back or to break away and start an independent work of our own, and we become more self centered than ever. But if we will bow to what God has allowed, and repent of our sinful reactions, we will find that that very situation has led us

16

into a deeper experience of His grace and of His power to satisfy our hearts with Himself alone.

In the same way, the inordinate seeking of inner spiritual experiences may also thwart us finding our true goal, for if we make our purpose in life a quest for these things we tend to become occupied with our personal experiences or lack of them. This produces the sad situation of hungry, dissatisfied Christians seeking out this speaker or that, hoping that he will be found to have the secret; or going to this Convention or that Conference, trying new formulas for blessing, seeking fresh experiences, and falling either into pride or despair, according to whether they feel they have the blessing or not. This leaves the Christian still self centered, occupied with himself and his experience; and it can lead to much mental anguish through the confusion of our many teachings and emphases on sanctification and kindred doctrines. Yet, all the time the One who alone can satisfy the heart is by our side, longing to be known and loved and proved.

***************

This, then, is the purpose of life, to see God, and to allow Him to bring us back to the old relationship of submission to Himself. We might wish that God would be content with some lesser purpose for us. As C. S. Lewis says, “It is natural to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and arduous destiny. . . It is a burden of glory, not only beyond our deserts, but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring. ” * But we must not rebel against this high purpose for us. Clay does not argue with the potter. It knows that the potter has every right to make it into whatever shape He chooses. Our highest good is achieved only in submitting. It has been said that there is a God shaped blank in every man’s heart. It is also true that there is a man shaped blank in God’s heart. It is because of the latter that God yearns so much for us and pursues us so relentlessly, and it is because of the former that mere earthly things, even service, will never satisfy our hearts. Only God Himself can fill that blank which is made

* C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain.

17

in His shape. If we will yield to this, some of us will have a new outlook on life. We will have a new zest for life, even in the dreariest surroundings. As soon as the emphasis is changed from “doing” to “being”, there is an easing of tension. The situations may not change, but we have changed. If fellowship with God is to be our first concern, then we can have fellowship with God in the kitchen, in sickness, in any kind of trying and difficult situation. Whatever lies across our path to be done, even the most irksome chores, are there to be done for God and/or His glory. Gone will be the former striving, bondage, and frustration. We shall be at peace with our God and ourselves.

One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do, I press toward my Lord:
My God my glory here from day to day,
And in the glory there my great reward.

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CHAPTER II
SEEING GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST

PERHAPS the previous chapter has left us feeling frustrated. We agree with the argument, we realize that our goal should be God Himself, but He seems far off, unknowable.

The fact is, God is unknowable, unless there is an easily appreciated revelation of Himself. Apart from that revelation, men have groped for Him in vain and have had to say with job, “Oh, that knew where I might find Him! “(Job. 23:3). Even the wonders of creation fail to give the revelation of Him that is needed. Of them, job said, “Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of Him” (Job 26:14 RV.). Left to themselves, men arrive at a false knowledge of God, a knowledge that only begets fear and bondage, and which repels men rather than draws them to Him.

However, the glorious, central fact of Christianity is that God has made a full and final revelation of Himself which has made Him understandable, accessible, and desirable to the simplest and most fearful of us. He has done so in a Son, through whom He made the worlds and who, having humbled Himself to take on Him our flesh and blood, and by Himself to purge our sins, has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. And that Son is the Lord Jesus. The disciples themselves had battled with this difficulty of the unknowableness of God, and one day one of them said to the Lord Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. “In reply, Jesus uttered the stupendous words, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. ” (John 14: 9). Later in the New Testament we find Paul saying the same thing to the Colossians, “His dear Son . . . who is the image of the invisible God. ” (Col. 1:15). And again, to the Corinthians, “God. . . hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Con 4:6).

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It is this verse about the light of the knowledge of the glory of God being seen in the face of Jesus Christ that helps us most here. Light is invisible unless it shines upon some object. We think we see a ray of sunshine shining into the room. But that is not so. We see only the particles in the air upon which the light shines and which thus reveal the presence of light. “God is light” (1 John 1:5) we read, but He is invisible and unknowable unless He shines upon some object that will reveal Him. The object upon which He has shone is the face of Jesus Christ, and as we look into that face, there shines in our hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, which we can see nowhere else.

In yet other verses the New Testament gives us three beautiful illustrations of the way in which the Lord Jesus is the revelation of the Father. In one place He is called “the Word”(John 1:1), for the word is the expression of the thought. In another He is called “the express image of His Person” (Heb. 1:3), for the wax impress is the exact expression of the seal. And in the same verse He is called “the brightness of His glory”, for the brightness of the rays express the sun, and are all that we can see of the sun. Yes, just as the word is the son of the thought, and the wax impress the son of the seal, and the rays the son of the sun, so Jesus is the Son of God, equal to Him but never independent of Him and perfectly expressing Him to us in terms that we can simply appreciate. And He was all this, not merely at the Incarnation, but before time began, and will ever be so when time has ceased to be.

Thou art the Everlasting Word,
The Father’s only Son,
God manifestly seen and heard
And heavens beloved One.
In Thee most perfectly expressed
The Father’s glories shine;
Of the full Deity possessed,
Eternally Divine.

True image of the Infinite,
Whose essence is concealed;
Brightness of uncreated light,
The heart of God revealed.

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Nowhere else can we fully see God but in the face of Jesus Christ.

In his biography of Martin Luther, D’Aubigne describes how Luther was seeking to know God. He says that “he would have wished to penetrate into the secret councils of God, to unveil His mysteries, to see the invisible and to comprehend the incomprehensible”. Stupitz checked him. He told him not to presume to fathom the hidden God, but to confine himself to what He has manifested to us in Jesus Christ. In Him, God has said, you will find what I am and what I require. Nowhere else, neither in heaven nor in the earth, will you discover it.

What exactly is it that we see when we look into the face of Jesus Christ? The verse we are considering says we see not only “the light of the knowledge of God”, but also the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. In Him we see not only God but His glory displayed. This gives us a new understanding of that which makes God glorious and it comes as both a surprise and a shock. For the face that reveals the glory of God is a marred face, spat upon and disfigured by the malice of men. The prophetic word of Isaiah concerning Him, “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isa. 52:14) can really be translated “His visage was marred so that it was no longer that of a man”, so great was His disfigurement. But, you say, that is not the vision of glory, but of shame and disgrace! However, it is glory as God counts glory, for the glory of God consists in something other than what we suppose. We are always falling into the mistake of thinking God is “such an one as ourselves” (Psa. 50:21) and therefore that His glory consists in much the same things as that in which man’s glory consists, only on a bigger scale. Man’s glory is normally thought to lie in his ability to exalt himself, and humble others to his will. That is glory, that is power, says the world. “Men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself” (Psa. 49: 18). How often have we coveted the glory of being able to sit at a desk as a high administrative chief and at the touch of a button

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command men to do what we want! Glory in man’s eyes is always that which exalts him.

In Jesus, however, we see that God’s glory consists in thievery reverse not so much in His ability to exalt Himself and humble man, but in His willingness to humble Himself for the sake of man not so much in a mighty display of power that would break in pieces those that oppose Him, but rather in the hiding of that power and the showing of grace to the undeserving when they turn to Him in repentance. When Moses said, “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory”, God replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee” (Exod. 33:18, 19). Not, “I will make all My power, My majesty, My holiness pass before thee” but “I will make all My goodness tithe weak, the sinful, and the undeserving pass before thee. “In showing His goodness (grace, as it is called in the New Testament) He was showing His glory. His glory is His grace (Eph.1i:6). It is this that makes the angels hide their faces and bow in wondering adoration of God. And it is this glory which is fully seen in the face of Jesus and nowhere else. “In Him most perfectly expressed the Father’s glories shine. ”

This was the conception of glory that occupied the Saviour’s mind. On one occasion He said, “The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (John 12: 23). A few verses farther on He speaks of it as an hour when He would be lifted up and would draw all men to Him (John 12:32). Again and again He had said, “Mine hour is not yet come. ” Now He says, “It is come. ” Were we reading all this for the first time, we would surely feel like saying at this point, “Never was the hour of glory and vindication more merited than in His case, for none had walked the path of vilification and opposition more patiently than He!” What is our surprise, then, when we discover that lie is speaking, not of being lifted up on a Throne, but on a Tree, as a public spectacle of shame, and all that for rebellious man, that He might save him from the miseries of his sin. “This, ” says Jesus in effect, “is the hour of My glory, for it is the hour of My grace to sinners. ” In Jesus, then, we see that God’s highest glory consists in His securing our deepest happiness. What a God is this!

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How different is this sight of Him from the conception our guilty consciences have given us! A guilty conscience always makes us want to hide from Him, as if He were the God with the big stick! Little wonder, then, that He goes on to say, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, [revealing the glory of God in grace] will draw all men unto Me. ” Here is a revelation of God that makes Him not only understandable but also infinitely desirable.

We need to look, then, no farther than the face of Jesus Christ to see God, and to know Him as He really is.

In Him I see the Godhead shine,
Christ for me !

How good of God to simplify our quest like this l We need not be philosophers, nor theologians, nor scholars. We need not nay, we should not pry any farther. All we need to know of the Father has been revealed in the Lord Jesus with such simplicity that a child can understand. . . perhaps with such simplicity that unless we become as little children we will not understand, for so often it is our intellect that gets in the way.

The one cry that we all need to utter is that of the Greeks to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus!” for, seeing Him, we see all, and every need of our hearts is met.

*********

We must now ask ourselves what it actually means to “see Jesus”. Perhaps it will help us to see what it does not mean.

To see Jesus does not mean that we are to seek to see Him in a mystical way, nor to crave for visions. We once heard someone, on being asked if they were seeing Jesus for themselves, reply, “Oh, yes, I am always trying to conjure up pictures of Him in my mind. ” Some people are given to visions, but visions are not to be sought after, nor gloried in. Paul was very reticent about what he had seen (2 Cor. 12:1-5). The fact of having a vision does not necessarily mean that we know the Lord Jesus more deeply than anyone else sometimes it can be a hindrance.

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Furthermore, we must not imagine that a merely objective contemplation of Christ and His love, or an academic delight untruth, is what is needed. Important as Bible study is, it can be strangely sterile and does not necessary mean that the student is enjoying a transforming vision of the Lord Jesus Himself though we shall never get very far without a patient and daffy waiting on God over the Scriptures. To see Jesus is to apprehend Him as the supply of our present needs, and believingly to lay hold on Him as such. The Lord Jesus is always seen through the eye of need. He is presented to us in the Scriptures not for our academic contemplation and delight, but for our desperate need as sinners and weaklings. The acknowledgment of need and the confession of sin, therefore, is ever the first step in seeing Jesus. Then, where therein acknowledged need, the Holy Spirit delights to show to the heart the Lord Jesus as the supply of just that need. Basically He is revealed through the Scriptures, but often in other ways too through another’s testimony, through the words of a hymn, or through the even more direct approach of the Spirit to the soul without any such means. Then, as the soul believingly appropriates for himself what the Spirit shows of Jesus, striving, strain, a consciousness of guilt, fear, and sorrow flee away and “our mouth is filled with laughter and our tongue with singing “(Psa.126:2).

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CHAPTER III
SEEING JESUS AS ALL WE NEED

0NE of the most breathtaking occasions when Jesus claimed equality with the Father was when He said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The sentence immediately challenges our attention because of the extraordinary liberty it takes with our grammar. If the Lord Jesus had merely wanted to express His pre existence, He would surely have said, “Before Abraham was, I was. ” But He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM. ”

Without any doubt He is taking us back to that day when Moses, bowing before God at the burning bush, asked what name he should give the God who was sending him to the Children of Israel. God’s reply then was, “I AM THAT I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you . . . Jehovah, God of your fathers, hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations” (Exod. 3:14, 15). Thereafter, God’s personal name became Jehovah, which comes from the same Hebrew root as I AM, and means the same. Thus it was, when the Lord Jesus said this word to the Jews, He dared to claim to be the great I AM of the Old Testament, whom they all knew to be the covenant God of their fathers. He went farther, saying that for them their own eternal destiny would depend on their accepting Him as such, for, said lie, “If ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins”(John 8:24) . *

The meaning of this great name, Jehovah, that is, I AM, which Jesus claimed for Himself is twofold. It means first offal that He is the Ever present One, who stands outside of

* The word “He” is in italics in the Authorized (King James) Version, which means it is not in the Greek and can be omitted. This throws into relief the name, “I am”.

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time, to whom there is no past nor future, but to whom everything is present. Clearly, that is the first meaning of this strange mixture of tenses. . . “Before Abraham was, I AM. “And that surely is what eternity is not merely elongated time, but another realm altogether where everything is one glorious present. It is for this reason that the French Bible always translates the name, Jehovah, as “L’Eternel”, the Eternal One.

The relation of the Eternal One to us in time can be illustrated by the relation of a reader to the events in a book. In the story in the book there is a sequence of time. As the pages are turned, certain incidents go into the past, others come into the present and yet others remain in the future. And yet the reader himself is in another realm altogether. He can open the book at any page, and to him the incidents there are all present, actually happening at that moment, as he reads them. What a vision this gives of our Lord Jesus, the Eternal One, the I AM! To Him our lives with their past and future are all present; our yesterdays as well as our tomorrows are all now to Him.

More important for us, however, is the fact that this name, Jehovah, is used almost uniformly in connection with that earthly people to whom He brought Himself into covenant obligations, the Children of Israel. To the Gentile nations, He was just God. But to His chosen people, to whom He had pledged special promises, He was ever Jehovah. * The fact that this Name was intended to have a special significance to them is made clear when God says to Moses, “I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah was I not known to them” (Exod. 6 :2, 3). Quite obviously, then, this name is meant to convey to them a new and precious revelation. What is it?

* The pity is that the Authorized Version largely obscures the use of the name “Jehovah” by almost always using the word “Lord” in the translation doubtless carried over from the Jewish tradition that the name of Jehovah was too sacred to write. The version, however, does help us by putting “LORD” all in capitals, whenever it is Jehovah in the original. The same applies whenever “God” is spelled with capital letters, GOD. Watch for it.

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The special revelation which this name gives is that of the grace of God. “I am” is an unfinished sentence. It has no object. I am what? What is our wonder when we discover, as we continue with our Bibles, that He is saying, “I AM whatever My people need” and that the sentence is only left blank that man may bring his many and various needs, as they arise, to complete it!

Apart from human need this great name of God goes round and round in a closed circle, “I am that I am” which means that God is incomprehensible. But the moment human need and misery present themselves, He becomes just what that person needs. The verb has at last an object, the sentence is complete and God is revealed and known. Do we lack peace? “I am thy peace, ” He says. Do we lack strength? “I am thy strength. ” Do we lack spiritual life? “I am thy life. ” Do we lack wisdom? “I am thy wisdom”, and so on.

The name “Jehovah” is really like a blank cheque. Your faith can fill in what He is to be to you just what you need, as each need arises. It is not you, moreover, who are beseeching Him for this privilege, but He who is pressing it upon you. He is asking you to ask. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16: 24). Just as water is ever seeking the lowest depths in order to fill them, so is Jehovah ever seeking outman’s need in order to satisfy it. Where there is need, there is God. Where there is sorrow, misery, unhappiness, suffering, confusion, folly, oppression, there is the I AM, yearning to turn man’s sorrow into bliss whenever man will let Him. It is not, therefore, the hungry seeking for bread, but the Bread seeking the hungry; not the sad seeking for joy, but rather joy seeking the sad; not emptiness seeking fullness, but rather Fullness seeking emptiness. And it is not merely that He supplies our need, but He becomes Himself the fulfillment of our need. He is ever “I am that which My people need”.

Oh, the grace of it, the surprise of it! Why should He? What claim have we on Him for this? Even man before the Fall had no claim on his God for this, much less man who has rebelled and fallen, and most of whose needs and miseries are but the

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result of his own sin! But that is grace and that is God. Grace, being what it is, is always drawn by need. And this is no extra nor afterthought on the part of God. It is His way of revealing Himself. Apart from our need, He is “I am that I am”, but as He is allowed to become the fulfillment of our need, He is seen for what He really is. That is why a mere academic understanding of the things of God is never the way to see Him and to know Him. It is as we come to Him with our needs that then “thou shalt know that I am the Jehovah”.

Sometimes in the Old Testament this blank cheque, the name “Jehovah”, is filled in for us, to encourage us to fill it in ourselves, as we have need. Every now and then we come across Jehovah compounded with another word to form His completed name for that occasion. In one place the Children of Israel had need of a banner to rally their drooping spirits and to lead them into victory against the forces that lay against them as they journeyed through the wilderness. They found their Jehovah God to be just that to them, and so, after the victory over Amalek, they built an altar and called the name of it Jehovah Nissi, which means “I am thy banner” (Exod. 17: 15). It was His warfare, not merely theirs.

In another place Gideon feared for his life, for he had seen an angel of Jehovah face to face. Then Jehovah said to him, “Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. ” Thus it was discovered that Jehovah was peace, even to a sinner like Gideon, and to commemorate the new revelation he built an altar unto Jehovah and called it “Jehovah Shalom”, meaning “I am thy peace” (Judges 6:24).

In yet another place Jeremiah says of the Messiah who was to come, “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, ‘Jehovah Tsidkenu”‘, that is, “I am thy righteousness” (Jer. 23:6 (margin)). Israel shall be saved and dwell safely because Jehovah will stand for them, answering every accusation against them, becoming their surety and righteousness.

So it goes on, seven such wonderful compounds of Jehovah, *

· The remaining four are: Genesis 22:14 (Jehovah Jireh, I am the One who provides); Exodus ig:26(Jehovah Rapha, I am the One who heals); Psalms 23:1 (Jehovah Ra ah, I am thy shepherd); Ezekiel48:35 (Jehovah Shammah, I am the One who is there, or, who is present). In some cases the Authorized Version does not give the Hebrew name, but merely the English translation of it.

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seven places in the Old Testament, where the cheque “I am” is filled up for us for our encouragement. What a study these compound names are! That, however, is outside the scope of this little book, for our aim is to fix our attention on the supreme compound of Jehovah JESUS. This might be written JE SUS, and, it seems, is but a contraction of JehovahSus, * which simply means, “I am thy Salvation”. Sooner or later, if Jehovah means, “I am what you need”, He will have to undertake our basic need as sinners. As such, we are justly condemned by His holy law, and we languish in the misery and famine of the “far country” of our own choosing. All the other needs which the other compound names of Jehovah reveal Him as meeting are not especially the needs of His people as sinners. But in Jesus, Jehovah undertakes to be what His people need as sinners, without excuse and without rights.

God could have undertaken His people’s other needs without sending Jesus. He did so in the Old Testament, and He could have continued to do so in our time. But when it came to His people’s needs as sinners it had to be Jesus. There was no other way. There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. And God did not withhold Him. He so loved us that He sent Him, the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, to effect by the shedding of His blood a full redemption from sin for us, and as a risen Saviour to be continuously all His people need, as sinners for our need as sinners is continuous, right up to the gates of heaven. We can now say, not only where there is need, there is God,

* Actually, the name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Kenosha”. The first letters of this name “Je” are a contraction of “Jehovah” and are linked with a Hebrew name meaning “salvation” to make Be full name, “Jehovah is salvation”. Joshua is a further contraction of Jehmhua. Therefore Jehoshua, Joshua, and Jesus are all me same name, the first two being the Hebrew forms, and the last one the Greek form. This explains why Joshua is called Jesus in Hebrews 4:8.

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but where there is san, there is Jesus and that is something far more wonderful. There is not always something blameworthy in a need, and we can understand God being touched and drawn by humanity’s need. But humanity’s sin, surely that does not draw Him, except in judgment. But no just because God is what He is, and Jesus is what He is, and grace is what it is, it is gloriously true, where there is sin, there is always Jesus seeking to forgive sin and recover all the damage that it has caused. He is not shocked at human failure; rather He is at home in it, drawn by it, knowing what to do about it, for Hein Himself and in His blood is the answer to it all.

So it is, whenever we think of Jesus, we must think of Someone whose coming was necessitated only by the offensive business of our sin. He is firstly and lastly the answer to sin. But God, in giving Him to be the answer to our sin, has given Him to be the answer to all our other needs, both spiritual, moral, and material, for “how shall He not with Him also freely gives all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Jesus thus takes into Himself all the meaning of the Old Testament compound names of Jehovah, fulfilling and eclipsing them all in the final compound name He beam, JESUS, I am thy salvation.

All this implies that we must see ourselves as sinners, believers though we may be of many years standing, and that we must do so, not in a merely theoretical way, but under the searching and specific conviction of the Holy Spirit. In the pages that follow we shall come back to that again and again, for apart from seeing ourselves as sinners, we shall see no beauty in Jesus that we should desire Him (Isa. 53 :2). He has no meaning except as the answer to sin. “To see thyself a sinner is the beginning of salvation, ” said St. Augustine and we may add, to continue to see ourselves as sinners is the continuance of salvation. An African, who had been convicted of sin after being a professing Christian for years, testified, “I never saw Jesus till I saw Him through my sins. ”

“We would see Jesus” is our theme. Seeing Him is not merely attaining an objective knowledge of Him; it is something subjective and experimental. It is seeing Him by faith to be just what I need as a sinner, a failure, a poverty stricken

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weakling, and allowing Him to be just that to me in this hour. And it is not selfish to seek to see Him thus. It is in His beingwhat I need as a sinner that He is revealed and known.

Jesus Christ A made to me,
All I need, all I need;
He alone is all my plea,
He is a11 I need;
Wisdom, righteousness and power,
Holiness this very hour,
My redemption full and sure;
He is all I need. and basic need?

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CHAPTER IV
SEEING JESUS AS THE TRUTH

We have just seen, doubtless with gratitude, that Jesus Christ is made to us all we need. What, then, is our first basic need? It is to know the truth about ourselves and about God. Until we do so, we are living in a realm of illusion and we are impervious to the word of grace; it seems largely irrelevant to our case. The breaking in of me truth about our selves and about God, and the shattering of the illusion in which we have been living, is the beginning of revival for the Christian as it is of salvation for the lost. We cannot begin to see the grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ until we have seen the truth about ourselves and given a full answer to all its challenge.

This word “truth” is an important word, especially in the writings of the Apostle John, from which much in this chapter is derived. It is one of his keywords, and in his Gospel and three Epistles it occurs no less than forty two times. John puts truth in contrast to the lie, the devil’s lie. The devil, he says, “abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). This settles for us the meaning of the word, as John uses it. It is not truth in the sense of the body of Christian doctrine, but truth in the sense of honesty, reality, a revelation of things as they really are.

One of the devil’s greatest weapons has always been lying propaganda. It is the way by which he conditions men to disobedience. He wove a web of lies around man in the Garden of Eden, and he has been doing so ever since. He lied to man about his perilous position as a sinner. “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen.3:4), he said, “you’re all right. There is nothing to worry about: you can eat of the tree with impunity. ” He lied also to man about God when he imputed to Him certain base

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motives for His prohibition with regard to the tree. “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof …ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), he said, “He does not want you to be a godlike Himself; He is keeping you down.” He flattered man and maligned God. And the tragedy was that man believed the lie and acted on it, with all the tragic consequences of the Fall of man that we know.

And the devil is still weaving his web of lies about us today. He is still telling us that we are good people and devoted Christians, and that there is nothing to be concerned about in our lives. He is still telling us that God is not all that holy and uncompromising, or that God does not love us or treat unfairly. And the tragedy is that we are still believing him. The result is that we have lost sight of things as they really are, and me now living in a realm of complete illusion about ourselves.

We must not, however, blame only the devil for all this. He has a ready ally in our hearts. In the first chapter of the first Epistle of John we have the three steps in me building up of this world of illusion about ourselves. The first step is in verse 6, where we have the words, “we lie, and do not the truth”. In other words, we give an impression of ourselves which is not the truth. We act a lie, even if we do not actually tell a lie. Some of us, perhaps, have been doing that for years, play acting, wearing a mask. And little wonder, for “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20). There is much about ourselves that we want to hide.

The next step is in verse 8, where we have the words, “We deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”. The means that we have acted a lie for so long that we have come to believe our own lie. We begin by deceiving others, and end by deceiving ourselves. We really do believe now that we are the sort of people we have given ourselves out to be. We are quite sure that we “have never done anybody any harm” and that we are not jealous or proud as other people are, and that we are truly consecrated to the Lord. The Pharisee who thanked God that he was not as other men were, honestly thought he was telling the truth. He was, however, just as covetous, unjust, and

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adulterous as anybody else, but his own heart had deceived him. He was living in the same realm of illusion as we are.

The third step in the process is in verse xo, “We make Him a liar”. All the leads us to the plate where, when God comes to show us our sin and our real selves, we say automatically, “Not so, Lord.” God, we feel, has made a mistake. He is pointing to the wrong man. Of course, we all admit theoretically we are sinners, but when God comes close, either through a message or through the faithful challenge of a friend, to show us that our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer.17:9) and to do so on specific points, we cannot see that it is right. However, to say that we have not sinned, when God says we have, is to make Him a liar. That is ever the end of this blindness, and Me we are there God can do little further for us. We have become strangers not only to God, but also to ourselves. It is clear, then, that our first and basic need is to be introduced to ourselves, to know the truth as God sees it.

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It is just here that Jesus Christ is made to us what we need, for He says, “I am …the Truth” (John 14:6). In the soul’s experience the is the first of His great “I am’s”, and our first step is to be willing to see the whole truth about ourselves and the God with whom we have to do, as it is revealed in Jesus Christ.

It is important to understand that Jesus is not saying here that He merely teaches us the truth, as if the truth were some thing apart from Himself ; but that He Himself is the truth. Therefore, truly to see Him is to see the truth. If we are asked, Where do we see Jesus as the truth, we reply, Supremely on the Cross of Calvary. There in Him we see the whole naked truth about sin, man and the God with whom he has to do. The very scene that reveals the richest and sweetest grace of God to wards man also reveals the starkest truth as to what man is If grace flows from Calvary, so does truth, for both “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Let us try to illustrate these things at the point. It is by

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seeing the concern of the doctor, and the extreme measures prescribed, that the patient learns for the first time the gravity of the trouble from which he is suffering. It is by the reading of the severe sentence imposed on another man that the undiscovered law breaker, who has been doing the same things himself but thinking lightly of them, discovers how seriously the law regards his offences. It is by seeing the suffering and sorrow undergone by a mother because of his ways that the wastrel son comes to judge the true character of those ways.

So, in like manner, Jesus says from the Cross, “See here your own condition by the shame I had to undergo for you”. If the moment the Holy One took our place and bore our sins He was condemned of the Father, and left derelict in the hour of His sufferings, what must our true condition be to occasion so severe an act of judgment!

The Bible says He was made in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom.8:3), which means that He was there as an effigy of us. But if the moment He became that effigy, He had to cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46), what must God see us to be? It is plain that God was not forsaking the Son as the Son. He was forsaking the Son as us, whose likeness He was wearing. What is done to an effigy is always regarded as done to the one it represents. That derelict figure suffering under the wrath of God is ourselves, at our best as well as at our worst. There for all to see is the naked truth about the whole lot of us, Christian and non Christian alike. If I cannot read God’s estimate of man anywhere else, I can read it there. In very deed, truth, painful and humbling, has come by Jesus Christ, enough to shatter all our vain illusions about ourselves.

However, not only has the truth about ourselves come by Jesus Christ but also the truth about God and His love towards us. Left to ourselves, our guilty consciences only tell us that God is against us, that He is the God with the big stick. We see Him only as the One who sets the moral standards for us, most of them impossibly high, and therefore who cannot but censure us when we fail. There is nothing to draw us to a God like that. But the Cross of the Lord Jesus gives the lie to all

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this and shows us God as He really is. We see Him, not charging us with our sins, as we would have thought, but charging them to His Son for our sakes. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them”(2 Cor. 5:i9). What we thought was the big stick was really His outstretched arm of love beckoning us back to Himself. In the face of Jesus Christ, marred for us, we see that God is not against the sinner, but for him; that He is not his enemy, but this Friend; that in Christ He has not set new and unattainable standards, but has come to offer forgiveness, peace, and new life to those who have fallen down on every standard there is. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. ” This is what one writer has called “the surprising generosity of the Cross”. It not only surprises our guilty consciences but also melts and draws us, impelling us to return to Him in honesty and repentance, knowing that nothing but mercy is waiting for us.

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There are no illustrations of spiritual truth like Old Testament ones; its ritual and history abound in them. Indeed, much of the ritual was instituted only to be an illustration of later New Testament truth. And we must not be thought fanciful in taking up such illustrations and using them, for the New Testament itself does so in a number of instances.

One such Old Testament illustration which the New Testament uses to show us the Lord Jesus is that contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews 13:11-13. “The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.

“What would the picture of “without the camp” mean to the Hebrew Christians to whom the apostle Paul was writing? They would be taken back in imagination to the days when their nation was in the wilderness. They would visualize that great, orderly encampment, with the sacred tabernacle in the center

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of it. Around the well defined encampment they would visual ise a no man’s land, known to all as “outside the camp”, and that place would be associated in their minds with certain classes of people.

Outside the camp was where the foreigners had to live; those who were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Eph.2 :12). Such were not permitted normally to live within the camp. Outside the camp, too, were the lepers. Because of the contagious nature of that terrible disease, they were banished from the camp, uncared for and excluded from all the delights open to others.

It was also the dread place of execution for law breakers and criminals. According to the law of Moses, the death penalty was to be imposed on adulterers, sabbath breakers, idolaters and murderers by stoning, and outside the camp was where that took place.

In this passage, however, the apostle tells us what is perhaps the most gruesome detail of the place. It was the place where the bodies of those beasts whose blood had been sprinkled in the Holy Place for sin were burnt on the refuse heap. The body which had had symbolically placed upon it the sins of the offerer was burnt as so much sin cursed refuse, utterly ab horrent to both God and man. Day after day without the camp the smoke was going up, and the place was pervaded by the stench of it.

In all, that region outside the camp was not a pleasant place. It was the place of foreigners, lepers, criminals, and sin cursed refuse a place to be avoided. Yet the Scripture tells us that it was to the spiritual counterpart of that place outside the camp that the Lord Jesus went forth, bearing His Cross, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood. The actual place where He was crucified has a name as gaunt and grim as the associations connected with outside the camp of old “a place of a skull” (Matt. 27:33). But the Gospel tells us that the place He went to was our place, and how glibly we often say, “He took my place !” But when we consider the place He actually had to take for us we get a shock, for it is then we see,

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as perhaps we can in no other way, what our true Place is, and what our true character is before God.

First of all, then, He went for us to the place where He was a stranger, even to His Father, the place of God forsakenness. Hanging there on the Cross, He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Sin in its beginnings is the sinner forsaking God, but in its ultimate penalty it is God forsaking the sinner, and that is hell. That was the place to which Jesus went on the Cross, Be place where God forsook Him. And He did so because that was our place. Ours was the curse He bore. Ours was the God forsakenness which He endured. The logic of it all is inescapable; if the moment He took our place God forsook Him, what must our true place be before God? What truth shines from Calvary as to our dreadful condition before God!

Then, He went forth and took the place for us of a moral leper, as if He were one Himself. Indeed, that is inferred in the Scripture, “We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa.53:4). Hebrew scholars suggest that the word “stricken” has the meaning of being stricken with the plague of leprosy. All through the Bible leprosy is an illustration of sin. It is a subtle disease. Beginning in a small way with only mild symptoms, it ends up as a ravaging monster, rendering the sufferer loathsome to the eye and bringing him to death. Sin, in its inception in our lives, may appear small, but in its culmination it is something utterly loathsome to both God and man, bringing the sinner to eternal separation from God. What contempt there is in the phrase “moral leper” when we refer it to another man! That was just the place the Lord Jesus was willing to take for us, that of a moral leper, loathsome to the eye of God. You ask, Why did He take so low a place? The answer is, He did so because He saw us to be just that, and He had to take that place if He was to save us. Therefore, Jesus hanging on the Cross outside the camp as a moral leper, is a declaration of my condition. If I did not know I was one in any other way I would know it by contemplating the place that Jesus had to take for me. What impurities, immoralities, and perversions stain so many lives today, yet are so carefully hidden awayl But there, it is openly declared on the Cross

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before all men by the very place that Jesus took for us ! And although we may think that these things may not have come to fruition in us as they have in others, Calvary declares that they are in us in essence and in embryo none the less.

Then, too, He went to the spiritual counterpart of that place where the criminals were stoned. “If He were not a malefactor, ” said the Jews to Pilate, “we would not have delivered Him up unto thee” (John 18:30). Jesus did not die on a bed, about which there is nothing disgraceful; He died on a Cross, and a Cross was a punishment about which there was a peculiar disgrace, for it was reserved only for criminals. Indeed, there was a criminal on either side of Him, and everybody thought that He must be one, too. They “did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”, because of something that He must have done, and they “hid as it were their faces from Him”. And the astonishing thing is that He never disabused them. He did not say, as we would have done, “Please, oh please, do not think that I am here for anything I have done I am here for other people’s sins. ” Instead, He kept sent. He was willing to let them think lie really was a criminal. He was willing to be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53: 12) and to die as such, just because He saw that that was our place, and He was willing to take it for us. The Bible certainly tells us that in essence we are all criminals in God’s sight. “Whosoever hateth his brother, ” it says, “is a murderer” (1 John3 :15). Anything that is not truelove for my brother is hate, and hate is murder. Again we read, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). God says that the lustful thought is the same in His sight as the actual deed. But even if the Bible did not say any of these things about us, we would still know they are true, and our guilt would be evident to the world, for at Calvary that fact is openly declared by Jesus dying for us.

Supremely, however, Jesus was led forth without the camp in the same way that the bodies of the sacrificial beasts were taken to be burnt, as so much sin cursed refuse. No words can describe the moral depths which Jesus plumbed for us on the

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Cross. It is not too much to say that He was dying there as so much sin cursed refuse, and only because sin cursed refuse is what we are seen to be in God’s sight. There the smoke and stench of our sin went up from His blessed body. You and I may give one another the impression of being earnest, godly Christians, but before the Cross we have to admit that we are not that sort of person at all. At Calvary the naked truth is staring down at us all the time from the Cross, challenging us to drop the pose and own the truth. This, then, is what Calvary shows us to be. These are not just pictures of what we were, but of what we still are, apart from Him. No matter how long we have been Christians, nor how mature we think we have become, Calvary has something fresh to show us of sin today. For sin is like an octopus. It’s tentacles are everywhere. It has a thousand lives and a thousand shapes, and by perpetually changing its shape it eludes capture. If we are to see sin in all its subtle shapes and forms, and prove the power of Jesus to save us from it, we need to pray daily:

Keep me broken, keep me watching
At the Cross where Thou hast died.

For only there do we know our need as sinners, and therefore of Jesus.

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What is to be our response to all this revelation of truth about ourselves and God? The sort of response that God is asking of us is very different from what one would naturally think, as will be found in John 3:20. The verse begins by saying, “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. ” This means that when we have sin to hide, we shun the light, that is, everything that would expose us. Then it goes on to say, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. ” We might have thought that if it says, “He that does evil hates the light”, it would have gone on to read, “He that doeth good cometh to

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the light. ” Surely the opposite of doing evil is doing good l But that is not the contrast here. What God says is, he that doeth truth cometh to the light. The alternative that God presents to our doing evil is not doing good, but doing truth; that is, honesty with regard to our evil. He does not want in the first place our efforts to do good where we have done evil, to try to be kind where we have been unkind, to be friendly where we have been critical. We could do all that without any repentance for what has been there already, and without any cleansing and peace in our hearts. What God asks first of all is truth, that is, plain truthful repentance, and confession of the sin that has been committed. That will take us to the Cross of Jesus for pardon, and, where necessary, to the other whom we may have wronged, for his forgiveness, too. In that place of humble truthfulness about ourselves we shall find peace with God and man, for there we shall find Jesus afresh, and lay hold as never before on His finished work for our sin upon the Cross. Simple honesty, that is, “doing truth” about our sins, will put us right with God and man through the blood of Christ, where all the “doing good” in the world will not.

Let us welcome Jesus today as the Truth. Begin with the first thing that He is showing you. It is probably the thing that is on your mind now, even as you are reading this. The reward of your obedience to light will be more light on further sin. He does not show us ourselves all at once, for we could not bear it. But He does so progressively, as each bit of truth obeyed leads to further revelations of ourselves. The fact that the Cross, which declares the painful truth, is also the remedy for sin, will give us a new readiness to respond to its diagnosis. If I know there is an infallible cure for a certain disease I can bear being told that I suffer from that disease. As long as I know there is a fountain for sin and uncleanness, I can face the light about myself and my sin. And the wonderful thing is that when we love the Lord Jesus as Truth we will find that lie is just as precious in that relationship as in any other. It is only our dark, deceitful hearts that make us afraid of Him as Truth. He wants us to be unafraid of Him in this capacity, nay, welcoming Him. He has given

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us His Holy Spirit, three times called “the Spirit of Truth”, to “guide us into all Truth”, and we can safely put our hands inHis and say, “Lord, show me all Thou dost see and all that Thou dost want me to see. I will accept it. I will not defend or argue. If Thou dost say it, then I know it is true. ”

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CHAPTER V
SEEING JESUS AS THE DOOR

What we have seen of the Lord Jesus as the awesome truth bout ourselves and our sins prepares us for the next sight of Him, the sight which the Holy Spirit longs to give tithe convicted heart that of the Lord Jesus as the Door. Such a sight of ourselves as we have had must give the convicted heart a sense of utter exclusion from a Holy God. If that is what we have been like all the time, and if those are the sins to which we have been blind for so long, little wonder, then, that God has seemed so far from us, that our hearts have been cold and that our Christian service has seemed hard and barren. We need look no farther for the cause of the deadness that reigns in our fellowship and our churches. Not only does the soul see itself rightfully excluded because of its sin but, knowing its weakness, it wonders if there can be a way to God that a person with a heart like his can tread.

Here the Lord Jesus presents Himself to us as just what we need, and confronts us with another great “I am”. Says He, “I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved”(John 10:9). If the deceived need to see the truth, the excluded need to find a door, and Jesus is both Truth to the deceived and Door to the excluded. He is the Door to revival and every other blessing for the Christian as He is the Door to salvation for the lost and a Door, moreover, as easily accessible to the weakest and most failing as to the most saintly.

The very fact that the Lord Jesus said He was the Door presupposes that there is a wall, a barrier, which excludes us from God. There is indeed. Who of us has not found it so? It has withstood our most earnest moral endeavours and thwarted our every resolution. We go to pray, but it is there. We seek His help, but it is still there. Our very worship of Him is ever from a distance. Only those who have never seriously set

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themselves to seek God can imagine there is no such barrier. The Bible tells us the nature of this barrier. It tells us it is sin, and only sin, that separates man and God (Isa. 59:2) By sin, it means the attitude of self centeredness, and independence of God which is common to us 8. 11, and the many acts of transgression which have issued from it. It is because “we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts” that “we have offended against His holy laws”. And sin always builds a wall between us and God.

This wall has not always been there. It was erected only with the first act of transgression. Only then did man want to hide from God. Only then did God in justice have to set the Cherubim and the flaming sword to bar the way back to the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:24). Since then, all Adam’s descendants have been born on the other side of that flaming sword, in the “far country” of separation from God into which the first prodigal, father of them all, went. And there men remain until their eyes are opened to see the one Door back which God has provided for them.

I found myself speaking one day to a woman in a counseling room after one of the great Crusade meetings which have been held in Britain in recent years. She told me that she had come forward because her son of sixteen had done so. I said, “But what about you?” She replied, “Oh, I’ve always been a Christian. ” The moment she said that, I knew she had never been a Christian at all. No one has “always been a Christian”, but rather always a sinner, always separated from God by sin until saved by Divine grace. Mere human religiousness does nothing to restore us.

Let us not think that this separating power of sin appliesonly to those who have never known Christ personally. Those of us who have passed initially through the Door backto God know all too often the wall that sin can still erect between the soul and God. Though we have been restored fromthe “far country ” of original sin, sin may yet come in, perhaps sin more subtle forms, and we find ourselves as a result in other”far countries”, smaller but none the less real the “far country” of jealousy, or of resentment, or of self pity, or of

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compromise with the world. And there always arises “a mighty famine in that land” (Luke 15: i4), as it did for the Prodigal Son, and we begin to be in want. It is “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). Who of us does not know the coldness of heart towards the Lord, the apparent deadness of the Sacred Page and the accumulating defeats in other areas of life because of the barrier that sin in one particular area has brought between us and God? We are not suggesting that the new born child of God loses his place in the family of God because of sin that has come in, but he does lose his fellowship with his heavenly Father, and then famine conditions invariably obtain in his heart until he repents.

In those famine conditions, however, the Christian is all too often blind to the real sin or sins that have separated him from God, and therefore he attempts to deal only with the famine itself rather than with its causes. He may resolve to pray more or to serve God more faithfully. Or he may “join himself to a citizen of that country” (Luke 15:15) as the prodigal did, and make worldly alliances in the hope of bringing back a little pleasure to his now joyless heart. All such efforts will always prove futile, and God uses that experience ultimately to show him that it is with sin that he must deal, and what that sin is.

However, even when a man knows the sins that have separated him from God, he occupies himself so often with the problem of how not to sin again rather than with getting back to God and to peace. It is frankly too late for such considerations. Sin has come in and done its damage. Even if we “get the victory” and never do that thing again, that fact would never bring us back to rest and joy. The simple truth is that words such as “Jesus satisfies” and “He Yen be victory” just do not apply when we are in the far country. All that, and much more, awaits us only upon our return to the Father’s house.

It is just here that we flounder for lack of knowing how to get back; how to get through the many barriers that sin has brought. If we knew this, we would be radiantly happy souls indeed. Sin, though it might come, would not defeat us with despair and deadness of spirit, for we would know a sure way

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into freedom and joy again, and we could avail ourselves of it just as often as we needed to. Truly our need, then, is to see a door.

This is the point at which the Lord Jesus meets us again. To the enquiring heart who would ask Him to show him the Door, He says in effect, “If ye had known Me, ye should have known the Door also. He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Door. I am the Door, by Me if any man enter he shall be saved. ” Jesus does not merely show us the Door; He Himself is the Door. This is God’s great gift of love to a prodigal world that still has its back to Him a never failing Door back to peace and satisfaction, if we will but turn and see Him standing so near and accessible to us. And such a Door is He, that neither preparatory steps nor subsequent steps are necessary to enter into what we need. In simply coming to Him we have passed from one spiritual condition to another, for He is Himself both the blessing needed and the Door to it. It is just such a picture of Him as the door that we have in the well known hymn whiff begins,

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee!

This picture gives us the basic word of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel does not call unto try to be like Christ, but rather to come through Christ. We are presented with a door rather than an example. Again and again we find Paul’s Epistles punctuated with the phrase, “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23 and similar verses) or its equivalent. He never mentions a blessing or an experience of good that God has for us, but thathe hastens to add “through Jesus Christ our Lord”. And rightly so, for what use is a delectable garden or a handsome house if therein no open gate or door by which to get there? This is what disappointed Christian are asking for all the time. “It is all right to talk about this wonderful life of fellowship with God, ” they say, “but how does a man like me get there?I have tried so often. ” Jesus delights to tell us, “I am how you get there! I am the Door. ” Therein no blessing that God has

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for us, be it salvation, victory, peace of heart, or revival, but that God has provided an easy accessible Door to it in His Son.

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If we are truly to see the Lord Jesus as our Door and to experience the blessedness of it, there are four essential thingswhich we must understand about Him in that capacity.

First, we must see Him as the open Door, wide open! How easy it is to see Him as something other than that! There are times when some of us seem to see Him as little more than the One who sets the standard, who delineates the path of duty and who only censures us when we do not attain it. That is to make Him but another Moses, who only causes us to despair, and if we see Him as a Door at all, it is only as a shut Door. But that is not the Jesus from heaven. “The law was given by Moses” and condemned the whole lot of us, “but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). If grace is God’s goodness to those who do not deserve it, that means He is an open Door through which sinners may come. The hour of its opening was that hour when, hanging upon the Cross, He cried in triumph, “‘It is finished’: and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). As if to make quite clear what was being accomplished out there on Calvary, the veil of the temple, which for centuries had hung as an excluding barrier between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple, was rent at that very moment from top to bottom. In that way the separating barrier of sin between man and God was declared breached, and the Door for sinful man declared open. We are now urged to have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living Way”, for the blood of Jesus Christ tells us that all the judgment due to our sin was exhausted on the Cross. When we truly see that, even the most self condemned have boldness to come.

This means that there is now no barrier or obstacle between man and God. What appear to be the obstacles — man’s coldness, unbelief, and such sins are the very things that qualify him for this Door, provided he will acknowledge them, for it is

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a Door for people who are characterized by just such sins. We cannot suppress or conquer these things, but we can judge them as sin and bring them to Jesus. And as we do so, what appeared to be an all excluding wall is found to be in Him an open door, and we have passed into peace and fellowship with God.

Second, we need to see this Door as open on street level, that is, open for the failure as a failure, and not merely for us when we have become a little more successful. The Jews in the New Testament could easy believe that there was salvation for the Gentile, if he was circumcised and became a Jew. What they could not and would not believe was that there was salvation for the Gentile as a Gentile, without becoming a Jew at all. This was the controversy that dogged Paul’s steps all his years. He insisted all the way through that the Gentile could be saved as a Gentile, and the sinner as a sinner, without anything to commend him to God but the blood of Jesus Christ(Gal. 2:14 16, etc. ). In other words, he insisted on seeing Christ as the Door open on street level.

We Christians would not think of going back on the Gospel committed to Paul as concerns “them that are without”, at least, not in theory. But when we think of our own deep needs and failures, and when we pray about being used of God and when we ask God for revival, we put the door for ourselves somewhere higher than on street level. Here we instinctively feel that the failure cannot be blessed as a failure, but only as a better Christian, and so we try to make ourselves such. We succeed only in putting the door just beyond our reach, for it is the becoming that little bit better that defies us. And all the time the Door is open on street level, the level of our shame and failure, and all that is needed is the willingness to acknowledge that such is our true condition, and to come in faith to Jesus. We sometimes talk about the price of revival, and we need to be very careful as to what we mean when we speak like this. We may place that price so high that we put revival right beyond the reach of the ordinary run of mortals. Maybe that is our way of attempting to justify God, that He has not yet, apparently, given the revival His people need. But that is a

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wrong done to God and a cruelty done to His Church. There is without doubt a price to be paid for revival, but it is not of necessity the price of long nights of prayer or excruciating sacrifices, but of simply humbling pride to repent of sin. The Door is open on street level to revival as it is to salvation and every other blessing. In coming to Him in repentance we come into Revival, for He is Himself Revival and the simple Door to it. If it is contended that this is not the widespread, spectacular revival which is written about and which is needed today, we can only say that such a movement has always begun this way with God being allowed to deal with one person, and with that person giving his testimony. May it not be that the reason why God has not blessed us with revival as we have wanted it, is that we have sought it, not by faith, but by the works of the law (Rom. 9:32) we have missed the door on street level? And may it not be that we have been expecting to “see revival” in others, rather than being willing to be personally revived ourselves and be the first to admit our need of this? Is it not significant that when there is patently an experience of revival in lives, those revived do not talk about revival but rather about Jesus?

The glorious truth is that Christ is immediately available to us, as we are, and where we are. God has made Him as accessible to us sinners as He possibly can. Listen to the apostle Paul on this point. “The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, `Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. )’ But what saith it? `The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart:’ that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Rom. 10:6 8). It is not a matter of straining to attain the heights, nor artificially trying to abase ourselves to the depths. His blood has made Him available tithe sinner as a sinner, and to the failing saint as a failing saint, if he will only admit that that is what heir. The word which we need, therefore, to contact Him is right in our mouth and in our heart, the simple word of confession and faith. This leads to the next sight that we must have of this

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wonderful Door opened at the Cross. It is a low Door, that is, we have to bow our heads low in repentance if we are to enter by it. Scripture mentions again and again the disease (if we may call it that) of the “stiff neck”. It is a figurative way of speaking of man’s self will and stubbornness, shown especially in his unwillingness to admit himself wrong. Sometimes you can feel your neck going almost literally stiff when someone accuses you and you resent it! When our necks are like that, and our wills unbroken to acknowledge our sin, we can never enter by that Door. We just hit our heads against the lintel! He bowed His head on the Cross for us (John 19:30), and we shall have to bow our heads low in self judgment and repentance of sin if we are to know the power of His blood to cleanse and bring us into rest.

So often the way in which we repent to God and sometimes apologize to another for a wrong shows that we have not truly judged ourselves. We betray the fact that we feel it is only an unfortunate slip, and that we have on this occasion acted out of character with our true saves. What deception !The truth is we have not acted out of character at all, but in accordance with our true form, as declared to us by that Figure hanging on the Cross for us! Sometimes we should do well to add, when we are putting something right with another, “So you see what I really am. ” The head must be bowed low tithe dust to admit that we are no better than what Jesus had to become for us.

Then we find Him a Door indeed. Then we must understand that this Door is a narrow Door. “Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7: 14 R.V.). At first the road to the Cross seems broad, and we can all go together. But as we get nearer to that place of repentance the path gets narrower. There is not room for us all abreast. We can no longer be lost in the crowd. Others fall behind. At last when we come to the One who is the Door Himself, there is not room even for two, you and that other one. If you are going to enter, you will have to stand there utterly alone. It must be you alone who repents, without waiting for any other. But we do not want to be the one to repent. The devil tells us that the other by our side is

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so very wrong, and he makes us unwilling to repent unless they repent first. But men never get through the Door that way! You must be the one to repent and to do so first, as if you were the only sinner in the world. The other may be wrong, but your reactions to their wrong (reactions of, perhaps, resentment, criticism, or unforgiveness) are wrong too, and in God’s sight more culpably so. For “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” is second only to “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matt. 22:37), and those reactions in your heart are not love. Jesus never fails as a Saviour when we come to Him as sinners. But if in any degree we are not finding Him a real Saviour who brings us fully out of darkness and defeat into light and liberty, it is because on one point or another we are not willing to be broken and see ourselves as sinners.

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We are now in a position to look at a final picture the Lord gives us in John 10 this time not so much of the Door but of the way in which we so often miss it. Said He, “He that entereth not by the door, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). The first interpretation of this word concerns the false teacher who seeks entrance to the sheepfold as a shepherd, but only to the enrichment of himself and the destruction of the sheep. However, as we look at this man trying to get into the sheepfold by painfully and slowly climbing up the wall, we may see that from another point of view this is an illustration of what we so often do. He has his fingers and toes in the crevices as he tensely struggles up. Every now and then he falls to the bottom and has to start climbing again. After repeated failures he is in despair that he will ever reach the top and thus get into the sheepfold. But all the time, there is the door open for him at street level. Either he has not seen it or he is unwilling to make use of it. Perhaps it is the latter, for he could not enter by that door as a self styled shepherd, but only as a repentant sheep.

What a picture this is of the grievous mistake we so often make in our anxiety to get into an experience of salvation or

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sanctification or revival or some other blessing of which west and in need! We are not entering by the Door, but are striving to climb up some other way by the way of self improvement, turning over a new leaf, determining to have longer devotions, trying to witness more, and so on. We seethe standard of the victorious life above us, and we are quite sure that if we can attain to it in this or that particular we shall be in fellowship with God and filled with His Spirit. But it is the attaining to it which all the time defeats us. And all the time we are climbing so hard the Lord Jesus stands immediately available to us as our Door, open on street level, and we could so quickly enter in if we were willing to bow our heads at His Cross. All the different and subtle ways by which we try to climb up some other way are but variants of the way of works which God has declared can never bring us into rest (Eph. 2:8,9).

It may be asked, Is it wrong to do such things as have been mentioned? Of course not; they are to have an essential part in every Christian life. But they are valueless if what God is asking us at the moment is to repent about something. Unconfessed sin vitiates all our religious exercises; even as it is written, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? . . . Your hands are full of blood” (Isa. 1:11, 15). But the human heart would much rather offer to God its works, no matter how costly, than humble itself to confess sin. That is the reason why man is always predisposed to go the way of works; he does not want to bow his head to go through the Door. That is the reason, also, why God has rejected the way of salvation by works or sanctification by works; the way of works is so often but a substitute for repentance. “Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (Psa. 51:16,17), and that spirit always finds its way through the Door.

Yet another reason why God rejects the way of works as a means to enter into blessing is that it makes Christ of none effect to us (Gal. 5:4). Said Paul, “If righteousness (or any other blessing) come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”(Gal. 2:2I). The more tense and striving I become in my

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Christian service and the harder I struggle to climb by my efforts over the wall of my coldness of heart, the farther I get from grace and from God and from His Door opened for me. I am in effect “going about to establish my own righteousness”, and am not submitting myself to be cleansed from sin in the precious blood of Christ.

More than that, such striving never produces peace in our hearts, only despair, for we never feel we have quite reached the top of the wall. But the despair and burden roll away, and relief, joy, and praise to God take their place when at last we see Jesus and His finished work. We come down from our unrepentant strivings to those dear, pierced feet of His, and in a matter of moments we have entered by faith into a peace and rest of heart that has eluded us for so long. Truly, to see Jesus is to lose our burdens and to enter into satisfaction.

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CHAPTER VI
SINAI OR CALVARY?

It would seem from what we have read in the foregoing chapter that it is simplicity itself for us to enter by the Door which is the Lord Jesus. However, Satan knows how to beset us round with subtle difficulties when, under conviction of sin and out of touch with God, we would long to find peace and freedom. Therefore, before going on to consider that into which the Door leads us, we must pause in this chapter to try to help the convicted soul in some of the battles that go on in his heart just outside the Door.

Whenever a sense of sin lies upon our conscience, two Persons, it seems, fight to get hold of that conviction the devil and the Holy Spirit. The devil wants to get hold of it in order to take it and us to Sinai, and there condemn us and bring us into bondage. The Holy Spirit, however, wants to take us and our sin to Calvary, there to bring us through the Door into peace and freedom. These two places represent for us the two covenants; the one from “Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage” (Gal. 4:24) the covenant of law; and the other the covenant of grace, wrought out and sealed for us by the death of the Lord Jesus on Calvary. The devil seeks to take us to the one, and the Holy Spirit to the other. Put like that, the issues seem simple, but in practice the mischievous thing is that the devil often simulates the voice of the Holy Spirit in order that the uninstructed Christian will think it is God who is taking him to the place of condemnation and bondage, and that therefore he must follow.

Mount Sinai was, of course, the historical place where God gave the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20). Ten times God spake out of the cloud and fire, and each time it was to announce a great moral commandment binding upon man”Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not”. There the basic covenant

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of law was given by which man’s relationship with God was to be governed. Put quite simply, it was, “This do and thou shalt live”, and “This fail to do, and thou shalt die”. That is still the covenant that the heart of man finds it easiest to understand, and to which his conscience most readily responds. In ordinary life today it represents for us the whole system of moral and religious standards that each man has worked out for himself as a result of the moral light which has played upon his life from various sources.

Now, when a sense of failure of some sort lies upon the conscience, the devil immediately endeavours to take us to the law, that which we have called Sinai, in order to accuse us with regard to the standards we have adopted there, but which we have failed to keep. The higher our moral and spiritual standards, the more there is for the devil to accuse us. He is rightly called “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). He not only accuses us to God, but he accuses the Christian to himself, and he does so by pointing to all the matters, real or imaginary, in which the Christian is failing to keep the law which he has espoused, and he thus produces in him a sense of condemnation. This is what the psychiatrist diagnoses in his neurotic patient as a “guilt complex”, but it is also something that many a healthy minded Christian carries around with him all too often. The source of it all is the devil, and that which gives strength to his accusations is clearly the law. This sheds light on Paul’s words, “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). These accusations have usually two effects upon the Christian, and they are precisely the effects which the devil designs to produce. First, they cause in him the reaction of self excuse. In the Epistle to the Romans there is the statement, “Their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom. 2:15). To excuse ourselves and to assert our innocence is ever the natural reaction to accusation; and this is exactly what the devil wants us to do. By his accusation she has provoked us to try to stand before God on the ground of our own righteousness and innocence; and he knows, and we ought to know too, that there is nothing for us on that ground. All that God has for sinners, He has for them on the condition

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that they will acknowledge that that is what they really axe. And so our thoughts go round and round, one half of us accusing ourselves, and the other half excusing ourselves, and all the time that we are thus excusing ourselves, we are getting farther and farther from the grace of God and from peace. This was precisely the effect that the accusations of his friends had on job. In suggesting that his trials came as a result of some wrong in him, they provoked him to assert vigorously his innocence, and on that ground he found that God fought against him. Upright man that he really was, he had none the less to be broken to accept the sinner’s place before he could be at peace with God again.

The second effect of the devil’s accusations is to cause us to get on to the ground of self effort and “striving”. He tells us what we are not, in order to get us to struggle in our own strength to make up for it. He accuses us that we are not praying enough, or not speaking enough to others of their need of Christ, or not giving enough to God, or that we are not humble enough, and so on, simply in order to get us to attempt to do all those things in the energy of self. The whole purpose of the devil. in these accusations is to get us into striving and self effort, and thus into real bondage. In that condition he has got us trying to “climb up some other way” into blessing (and a hard, painful business it is, for the wall is high!) instead of entering in by the Door, open on street level. And he can do all this under the guise of being the voice of God to us. But he is “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). His accusations, though they have the appearance of truth and of being based on the law of God, are but half truths, and all the more dangerous for that reason.

How we need to discern the voice of the devil, and to know in experience God’s answer to the thunderings of Mount Sinai against us! It is to reveal just that to us, that the Holy Spirit has come.

If the devil wants to reach that sense of sin that lies upon our conscience, so does the Holy Spirit. But how differently

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He works! He takes that sin, and us with it, to Calvary, to. Jesus our Door. There He shows us that that sin, and much else, was anticipated and settled by the Lord Jesus in His death upon the Cross. Whether what the devil says to us is true or false is all settled by the Lord Jesus for us. The worst that the devil can say about us is not to be compared to the dark depths of sin that swept over Him there. At the Cross the most self condemned finds nothing but forgiveness, cleansing, and comfort. The fact, then, that we are the sinners we are, of which the devil loves to accuse us, is only a half truth. The other half of the truth is that Jesus died for us and did a complete work for us. That is something the devil never tells us. Only the gentle Holy Spirit tells us that. Indeed, it is His great delight to “comfort all that mourn” (Isa. 61:2) and to do so by giving us a fresh sight of Jesus and His blood, and of His appearing even now in the presence of God for us.

This revelation has two effects on the believer when he truly sees it the exact opposite of the two effects of the accusations of Satan, which have already been mentioned. First, he freely acknowledges his sin, and judges himself. If the accusations of Satan had the effect of causing him to excuse himself, and protest his innocence, the grace of God revealed at Calvary has the effect of causing him to admit his sin. He is not even at too great pains to sort out what may be a true accusation and what may be false; the answer in the blood of Christ is the same in either case. Furthermore, if he could regard himself innocent on one score, there are many others on which he is hopelessly guilty. In any case, it ill befits him to be attempting to prove his innocence on even one point before the Cross, where the Wholly just died as the Wholly Unjust for him. Thus there is produced in him that attitude of heart which in the sight of Goths of great price, the attitude of the broken and contrite heart. The moment he adopts this attitude he is brought right on to redemption ground, where nothing but grace is lavished upon him by God.

Second, the sight of Calvary and its meaning for him provokes him not only freely to admit his sin, but also to rest from self initiated activity to get himself right. Perhaps no

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verse expresses more clearly this effect of our coming to the Cross than one in Isaiah where it says, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved” (Isa. 30:15). The situation in this thirtieth chapter of Isaiah was that Israel was in a serious plight, with her enemies descending on her from the north. In this plight she resorted to alliances with other nations, in particular with Egypt, to whom she sent her ambassadors for help. Into this scene Isaiah steps with the word, “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me”. He declares that “the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose”, for the root cause of their predicament is their departure from the Lord; it is for this cause that God has brought upon them the armies of Babylon, that He might humble and chasten them. He therefore calls upon them to return to the Lord in repentance. To this the people might well have replied, “To return to the Lord is all very well, but what relevance has it to a situation like ours in which we are besieged by our foes?” And Isaiah would doubtless have said, “It has every relevance, for in dealing with your wrong relationship with God you are dealing with the root cause of all your present troubles. ” “But, ” they might have replied, “what are we to do about the armies of Babylon?” “If you return tithe Lord, ” he would have answered, “you can rest about that, for God will never fail to work for those who, having repented, rest in quiet confidence in His overruling and restoring grace. “This, then, is something of the background and meaning of this great word to them, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved”.

The same word is for us, too. Having returned, that is, having repented, we can rest, and we can do so because we see that Jesus has done a finished work for us on the Cross. We can rest, first, about our righteousness, which has received such a damaging blow both in our eyes and in the eyes of others by the sin that we are having to repent of. We see that the precious blood of Jesus has anticipated and settled the very sin w e are confessing, and has provided a perfect righteousness for us before God, and we can rest content to have none other before men. Indeed, it is not until we are content to have no other righteousness before both God and

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men that we find peace. But then, when we do, what rest is ours from futile efforts to justify ourselves! We can say, “If others think me a failure, they think the truth but a failure who has found peace through the blood of His Cross”, and we are prepared to give them just that testimony. We have learnt at last to overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11),and our hear are free. We stand before God and move amongst men with the witness:

This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
More than that, having returned, we can rest about the consequences of our sin, and about the situation in which it may have involved us. Up to the moment of our repentance the situation in which we have involved ourselves is our responsibility. We have made our bed and we must lie in it, or, more likely, do our frenzied best to get ourselves out of it. But the moment we repent and put the blame where it belongs, on ourselves, the all availing blood of Jesus comes into view on our behalf before God, and He then is pleased for Christ’s sake to make the tangled situation His own responsibility, and we can rest about it. He first gives the repentant one peace through the blood, and then deals with his situation. As some one has said, “God forgives the messer, and unmesses the mess”, or rather, He makes the mess the raw material for a fresh purpose of love.
This is the vision of grace which was given Jeremiah as he watched the potter at work (Jer. 18: 1 6). When the potter saw the vessel marred in his hand he might well have discarded it. Instead, “he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it”. So does God delight to do with all our marred vessels when we truly humble ourselves, be the marred vessel our whole life or just a day in that life, be it a complex set of circumstances or just a relationship with one other person which we have spoiled. And as we rest as repentant ones at the Cross and take whatever steps He may show us to be necessary, we watch Him bringing a new purpose

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to birth, His order comes out of our chaos, and we are left with nothing but adoring praise to Him. The new purpose He works may not be unmixed with discipline, but grace assures us it is going to be one of infinite good, and so we rest.

So it is that the value of the blood of Christ extends not only to our sin but also to the circumstances connected with our sin. This is a sight of the power of the blood of Christ which brings infinite relief and peace to the tortured, remorseful soul and which causes him to rest indeed from his anxieties to prove the grace of His wonderful God.

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The same word of rest applies to our dealing with the qualities we know we lack in our lives. We are convicted that we lack love for somebody, or that we lack faith in a certain matter, or that we have been prayerless. As we have seen, the devil wants to accuse us of these things in order to provoke us to strive to make up for them in our own strength. But the Holy Spirit takes us with our conviction to Calvary to provoke us to repent about them and then rest about them. So often, however, it would seem that we are reading this verse as it were “in returning and resolving ye shall be saved”. Knowing that we are not loving towards somebody, we try to be more loving. Aware that we lack faith in a matter, we struggle to trust more. Convicted that we have not been praying as we should, we make resolutions as to how long we shall spend on our devotions each day in the future. The trouble with all this is that it is we who are doing it all, and it is not the work of Christ. As we know, or ought to know, “that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing”, we can be almost certain that very little will come of it.

The Holy Spirit, however, is not concerned primary to get us to try to be better, but to repent deeply of the sin there is; not to try to be more loving to that person, but to repent of having been jealous and critical towards him and so on. Then, having repented, the Holy Spirit would bid us rest as sinners at the Cross, where sin is cleansed away, and so be at peace. As we rest as sinners in that low place, Jesus pours into our

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hearts His own love for that other person, a love that will sometimes send us to that person to put things right with them, and He gives us a forbearance towards them that was never there before. In that low place where we confess our worry, He gives us His own faith, “the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). There, too, He will lead us to those devotions which He wants on each occasion. So it is, instead of trying to “climb up some other way” into victory, we enter into it by the Door, as we bow in repentance at His Cross. In this way we find the reality of “Not I, but Christ liveth in me”, for it is into His love, patience, and victory that we enter, not ours. And so it is that we learn by experience, “In return ing and rest shall ye be saved”.

An illustration will help at this point to make clear the application of the principles involved in the words, “In re turning and rest shall ye be saved”. At a certain place in East Africa, which had been a very real centre of revival, a time of spiritual coldness had come, and the one time joyous testimony seemed to have died from among the fellowship of those who met there. This was known and acknowledged by the Christians, but the spiritual famine seemed to continue. Then there came among them an African Christian from another part, a man full of zeal and one who thought he “knew all the answers”. He charged them with their coldness and said, “Little wonder, when the township next to you is completely pagan and you are doing nothing to preach the Gospel there.” He urged them to get busy and conduct open air meetings there. A godly leader in the local group answered him with great wisdom along these lines. “You are quite right we are cold. We have acknowledged that to God and have been repenting. But we are not going to start striving to do this or that to bring the blessing back, not even street preaching. Having repented, we are going to rest as sinners under the blood of Jesus until God is pleased to meet us again.” Sure enough, God soon met them, and the Holy Spirit began to work again in their midst, and each was able to praise again for fresh sights of Jesus. Their cups were so full that when they went to that pagan township to make their purchases they could not but witness of Jesus

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to those they met in the shops and elsewhere. And ere long, a man was saved, and then another, and then another, and a work of grace began in that place. Thus they discovered the efficacy of the way of repentance and rest, for it brought Jesus Himself into their situation; and they were enabled to take that way only because they saw the efficacy of His finished work on the Cross for them.

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How differently, then, does the Holy Spirit work from the devil. While Satan accuses only to bring despair, bondage,and striving, the Holy Spirit convicts only to bring comfort, freedom, and rest. Indeed, it is by discerning this fact that we can learn to distinguish between the accusing of Satan and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If the reproof is of a nagging nature, that is, blaming, without any end to it, and if it is a vague and general reproof, rather than clearly specific, then we may know it to be, as a rule, the accusation of Satan. If the reproof is clear and specific, and if we instinctively know that we have only to be willing to say, “Yes”, and repent, to have peace and comfort, then we may be assured that it is the voice of Be gracious Holy Spirit, and we may safely obey His convictions, and turn to Calvary.

Under the law with its ten fold lash,
Learning, alas, how true,
That the more I tried the sooner I died,
While the law cried, You ! You !! You !!!
Hopelessly still did the battle rage,
“O wretched man” my cry,
And deliverance I sought by some penance bought,
While my soul cried, I! I!! I!!!

Then came a day when my struggling ceased,
And trembling in every limb,
At the foot of the Tree where One died for me,
I sobbed out, HIM ! Him !! Him !!!

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CHAPTER VII
SEEING JESUS AS THE WAY

THE picture of the Lord Jesus as the Door properly belongs to the beginning of the Christian life. It is pre eminently the message which the unregenerate man needs to hear when, under conviction of sin, he desires to return to God and find salvation. We have, however, applied this picture of the Door in a previous chapter to the needs of the believer, because he is sometimes so cold and defeated, and has been so for so long, that when ultimately he gets right with the Lord the entrance into more abundant life is an important crisis for him. In any case, the principles of grace revealed by the Door are for him ever afterwards. The entrance for him into every further blessing is “through Jesus Christ our Lord” and must be entered by repentance and faith. It will, however, save the reader from confusing the imagery if, as he reads the present chapter, he regards the picture of the Door as applying either to the beginning of the Christian life or to some further crisis experience. What follows now applies to the Christian life itself after entrance by the Door, and is concerned with how to continue in the experience of grace into which we have entered.

Now, what lies beyond the Door? Scripture could have pictured the Door leading us into a house or a garden. If it had done so, we would have gathered that the Lord Jesus brings us into a static experience of salvation, peace, and holiness, and that once having entered in, we would more or less stay there, enjoying it all without continuous co operation on our part.

Scripture, however, gives us the picture of the Door leading us, not into a house, but on to a Way. Said the Lord Jesus, “Narrow is the Gate, and straitened the Way that leadeth unto

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life” (Matt. 7:14 R.V.). The Gate opens on to a Way that stretches right ahead. And the Lord Jesus who had said, “I am the Door”, now says, “I am the Way” (John 14:6) that lies beyond the Door. Both Door and Way are the same blessed Person.

Now a Way speaks not of a final, settled blessing but rather of a walk, of an experience which is continuous. A walk is simply a reiterated step, where something is happening each moment in the present; after one step, the next step; after the one “now”, the next “now”. This illustrates the fact that our experience of Christ is to be a continuous present tense, a glorious “now”. This moment we are to be at peace with God through Him; and after this moment, the next moment in living fellowship with Him, and thus the next moment and soon. Here, past crises do not help us. The Door experience was essential, but is now past. We may be able to testify that we were saved or sanctified on such a date, but God does not want us to be continually harking back to that in our mind, but to be living with Him each moment in the present, where He will be to us all we need.

Now a walk like that requires that there should be a way on which to walk. As we drive easy along our modern paved highways we can hardly imagine the almost impassable terrain that confronted our fathers when they sought to make their way through a country where there were no roads. Whenever an undeveloped country is being opened up, the first thing to be done is always to build highways. The best automobiles in the world are valueless without such roads. And we have only to contemplate for a moment the fact that we are called to walk in continuous, present tense fellowship with God to find ourselves asking, Haw? How can people like ourselves, in circumstances like those in which we are, enjoy a continuous walk like that? With evil propensities within us, and sin around us, we are faced with what looks like an impassable swamp. We need a Way, and a Way of such an order that foolish wayfaring men like ourselves may walk thereon in peace and safety.

God has provided for us such a Way. He who provided for

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us the Door has not failed to provide the Way we so much need after we have entered by the Door. It was foretold long before, and prophets like Isaiah eagerly looked forward to it. Said he, “And an Highway shall be there, and a Way, and It shall be called the Way of Holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it. . . but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isa. 35:8). That Way consecrated for people like ourselves is the Lord Jesus Himself, for He said, “I am the Way. ” On either side are the swamps of sin, but stretching through them and above them is our Highway, exactly suited to our faltering feet, the Lord Jesus Himself.

This was the conception that the early Christians had of the Christian life. In the Acts of the Apostles they always referred to what they had found in the Lord Jesus as a Way. On no less than six occasions Christianity is referred to there as “this Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). * Indeed, in that book it bears no other name. To them Jesus was not only their Door, but their Way, on whom and with whom they were continuously and delightedly walking.

The Door, then, speaks of the beginning or the crisis, while the Way speaks of the going on. Both are fully provided for in the Lord Jesus.

Now if there is one thing more important than entering by the Door, it is going on in the Way. Having entered by the Door, the walk is going to occupy us right to the end of our days. But it is just this which is our greatest difficulty. Compared with the ease with which we entered by the Door, the walk seems hard indeed. It seems difficult to maintain that fresh fellowship with God which was so vivid when we began. It is hard to maintain His peace in our hear. It seems difficult to make the means of grace work; and prayer, the Bible, and worship become unreal to us. We find it difficult to be effective witnesses for Christ, and to manifest the sweetness and holiness we should. The truth is that many of us who have entered by the Door are not really walking the Way at all, though we still have our faces Zionwards. We have slipped off the Highway

* The R. V. brings out “this Way” even more clearly in these verses than the Authorized Version.

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that has been divinely cast up, and are painfully dragging our steps through the swamp that abounds on either side. Sometimes I have heard a Christian apply to himself the expressive word “stuck” when he is in that condition.

Basically this difficulty is due to the fact that we are not seeing Jesus as the Way, but are trying to make other things the way, and they just do not work. Some feel that prayer is the most important thing in the Christian life, and it becomes the way for them. Others would put Bible study in that place, others fellowship, others personal witnessing, yet others the Church and the Sacraments, and yet others Christian neighbourliness. It is felt that if we do these things, then we shall be really living the full Christian life, and we thus make them the Way.

None of these things, however, is the Way, and they only make the Christian life hard and barren when we try to make them such, even in a small degree. First, they have no answer to sin, and sin is the Christian’s problem all the time. Satan knows how to provoke our hearts to wrong reactions. Prayer, witnessing, fellowship, church going, and so on do not cleanses in nor give the guilty conscience peace. That which does not anticipate and have an answer for the sin that comes can never be the Way for the Christian. Then, the value of these things depends on our doing them. But the doing is just our difficulty. We find we cannot do them, at least not as our conscience tells us they ought to be done. And because we fail to do them, they fail to bring us into the peace we need. Or if we think we have done them as they should be done, then they undo all the good they might have brought us by begetting in us the terrible sin of pride.

Not only, however, do they not bring us into peace, but the seeking of spiritual life by works can be positively harmful in another way. The unattained standards and the unfulfilled duties burden and condemn the conscience, and we sigh and drag our steps under the load. Paul was alluding to just this experience when he said, “The commandment, which was ordained to life (if I could keep it), I found to be unto death (because I faded to keep it)” (Rom. 7:10). The man who says,

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“I believe in prayer”, or “I believe in witnessing”, or in anything else, will invariably end by being cursed by the very things in which he professes to have such faith, because sooner or later he is bound to fall down an those very things. Then his unattained standards will only nag him and he will be in bondage to them. As many as are of the works of he law are always under a curse, for according to moral law, cursed is very man who continues noon all the things, in which he professes to believe, to do them (Gal. 3:10). The only One we can believe in without being cursed is Jesus, because He has come to redeem us from the curse of our unattained standards, having been “made a curse for us” on Calvary (Gal. 3:13).

Only the Lord Jesus Himself is the Way; to attempt to walk on any other is to fall and to despair. This does not mean that we are not to do these things; of course they are to occupy a prominent place in the Christian’s life. But it does mean to say that they are not the Way, as so often we make them. The Lord Jesus Himself is the Way. None else will suit our stumbling feet.

Someone at this point may object that he does not regard these things as the Way itself, but only as a way to Christ who is the true Way. There is, however, no way to Christ, for Christ Himself is the Way. We do not need a way to the Way. It is that little way to the Way that defeats us, and makes the real Way of none effect to us, because we cannot get there. In the early days of railways in Britain, some towns refused to have the railways go through them, because they feared that the sparks from the engine would set their property alight. Instead, the station was set on the outskirts of the town, to the immense inconvenience of later generations of townsmen. Not so this Way, which is Christ, for it runs right by us in our need and poverty, and we can End Him as we are and where we are. To say otherwise is to rob the Gospel of its sweetness.

We cannot but ask at this point, where do the means of grace come in; what is their proper place? Here we could not do better than quote from a recent writing * of the Rev.

* Captivated by Christ. Published by Christian Literature Crusade, U. S. A.

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Wesley Nelson, of Oakland, California, both as making this point clear and as summarizing much that has been already said:

“Because prayer is revitalized through fellowship with Christ, there is a tendency to look upon prayer as a way to Christ, and to try vainly to pray more fervently in order to come closer to Him. The Bible witnesses to Christ, and when Christ is near, the Bible is a new book. Therefore some torment themselves for not reading or studying it more faithfully in order to know Him better. Christ is the Way to the Bible, as He is to prayer. The Spirit of Christ Himself must speak through the pages of the Scriptures before they can become meaningful. The time of daily personal devotions becomes a more blessed experience to those who know Christ intimately. Sometimes this tends to be looked upon as away to Christ, and the responsibility to keep it only adds tithe burden of a troubled conscience. The sheep do not come to the still waters to find the Shepherd. It is the Shepherd Himself who leads them beside the still waters. Christ is immediately available right where we an as we are. He in turn becomes the way to these various means of worship. He leads us into those forms of personal devotion and worship which are most adapted to each one’s spiritual needs. ”
If, however, we have not a continuing devotional life with the Lord, expressing itself in prayer and feeding on His Word, it is because we have become spiritually cold and have got out of touch with the Lord. This is, perhaps, the surest index of where we are spiritually at any given time. In such a case the remedy is not, as is popularly supposed, to make a new attempt to pray and read the Bible more regularly, but to go direct to the Lord Jesus Himself to repent of the coldness and of the things that have caused it, and to receive from Him again His cleansing. Then it is that prayer and the study of His Word are suffused once more with the glory of His Presence and become a delight, and our witness to others becomes fresh and spontaneous. It is as simple as that! In this way we find Jesus to
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be the Way to our devotions, rather than our devotions the Way to Him except in so far that in getting right with Him we do actually pray, and in dealing with us God invariably uses His Word.

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Let us look now more positively at Jesus as the Way. Apart from Him, the sinner is faced with an excluding wall and the saint with impassable swamps. Both wall and swamps symbolize the same thing, sin. If it is sin that blocks the sinner’s entrance, it is sin that impedes the saint’s progress. With sin around him in the world, and sin within him in his heart, how can he hope to walk in fellowship with God? If the sinner needs a Door, the saint needs a Way a Highway cast up, a Way prepared, along which he can walk in rest, joy, and power, through (or rather, above) the swamps of sin. As we have seen, Jesus Christ is that Way of rest, joy, and power, even as He was the Door of entrance.

The important thing, however, is to see that the very thing that made Him the Door makes Him the Way, too. It was not His life nor His teaching that made the Lord Jesus the Door, but rather His Cross, His blood, His finished work for sin. It is the same blood and finished work that constitutes Him the Way for us. It is redemption at the beginning of the Christian life and redemption all the way along. This means that this! a Way on which sin is anticipated, taken account of, and finished, even before it has come to existence in us. The worst discoveries we may make about ourselves do not take Him by surprise. The answer to sin is always there; indeed, the Way Himself is the answer. Here the convicted saint need not despair nor feel nagged, for his sin is cleansed and fellowship with God made real the moment it is confessed. Indeed, he need not regard himself as having slipped off the Way through his many sins of ignorance, if he gives an immediate and honest assent as soon as God shows them to him.

We may therefore call this Way the Way of the Blood. Indeed, in Hebrews io the new and living Way into the Holy of Holies of God’s presence is clearly stated to be the blood of

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Jesus (Heb. 10:19-22). Therefore, even the most self condemned are bidden to have boldness to draw near by this Way, for it is consecrated for just such. Isaiah, too, prophesies the same comfort of this Way, as we have seen, when he speaks of “the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it . . . but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isa. 35:8, 9). True, its title, the Way of Holiness, may at first sound forbidding, and the phrase, “the unclean shall not pass over it”, may seem to exclude us. But who does walk there? It does not say “those who have never been unclean”, or even “those who have only seldom been unclean”, but “the redeemed”, that is, those who on many or few occasions have been defiled by sin, but who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and who are continually cleansed just as often as may be necessary. This gives people no better than ourselves the chance to walk in daily, hourly fellowship with God, and takes from our souls all striving and strain as we do so, for “if we walk in the light, as He is in the light . . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

This Way is not only the Way of the blood, but also the Way of Repentance. If that which makes Jesus the Door His blood also makes Him the Way, then the steps of repentance and faith by which we entered through the Door are the constantly reiterated steps by which we walk the Way. There are not two messages, one for the unsaved and the other for thes aved. It is the same blessed Lord who is presented to both, and the response which is required from both is that of repentance. It must ever be so when we speak of the blood of Jesus. If His blood, on the one hand, declares that sin is finished for us, it also demands, on the other hand, that sin should be admitted by us, for His blood only cleanses sin confessed as sin. When the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Way”, He added, “and the Truth and the Life. ” Those two words do not introduce two entirely new thoughts, but refer back to “the Way” and qualify it. It was as if He were saying, “I am the Way, which is the Way of Truth and the Way of Life. “This means that the light of Truth is always shining on his Highway, continually showing us the truth about ourselves

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and our sin. The thoughts and reactions of our hearts, the words of our lips, and the deeds of our hands are all spotlighted as sin by the light of Truth, whenever they are so, and we are required to agree continually with God under this conviction, and repent. This is what John calls “walking in the light, as He is in the light”. If we are willing to say “Yes” to God under His light, then “we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”. If, however, we refuse to say “Yes”, and repent, then the walk with Jesus stops, we slip off the Highway, and we find ourselves in the darkness, where we are so much less able to sees in the next time. Very soon, ft we still refuse, we shall be struggling again in the swamps. Thank God, we can always return to the Way the moment we are willing. The simple steps of repentance and faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus, by which we first entered the Door, have only to be repeated, and we are back with Him in the AOL “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

This is what is meant by Isaiah’s phrase, the Way of Holiness. It is what we may call Gospel holiness, Be chief dement of which is not that sin never comes, but that it is hated and judged and confessed to Jesus immediately it does come. Then, according to 1 Corinthians 1 :30, He “is mane unto us sanctification (that is, holiness)”. He becomes to us what we can not be in ourselves. We find ourselves possessed with a power that is not ours, and a holiness that is not ours either but all His, who lives in us. So it is that victory ever comes by repentance coupled with a simple trusting Him to be to us what He promises. The glorious fact is that we need not be defeated for any longer than it takes us to recognize sin as sin, and bring it to the Lord Jesus in confession. Then He not only cleanses and delivers but also becomes Himself our victory on that point, as we trust Him. What is this but continuous revival? The Way of Truth is found to be the Way of Life.

Most important, this Way is simply walking with Jesus Himself. The central phrase of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Highway is, “He shall be with them” (Isa. 35:8 margin). He is both

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the Way itself and the One who walks beside us on that Way, bearing on His shoulders the responsibility of all our affairs. We can go shopping with Jesus, go to work with Him, do the most menial tasks in the house with Him, and undertake the largest responsibilities in our profession with Him. If we are cleansed from our sin as we go, we shall many times a day turn to Him to seek His guidance, to ask His help, or just to praise Him for His love and sufficiency. In no part of life are we to be independent of Him. His presence is to suffuse everything we do with peace. If in anything that peace is disturbed or shattered, we know that sin has come in, and we must repent, for the peace that comes from an ungrieved Holy Spirit in our hearts is the arbitrator over all that we do or think (Col. 3 :15).

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Before leaving this picture of the Lord Jesus as the Way, we need to point out its relevance to a matter which is rightly on the hearts of an increasing number of the Lord’s people the matter of the Church’s need for revival.

It is not uncommon to hear of how the Holy Spirit has visited a Mission Station, a Bible School, or a Church in convicting power. Many Christians have been convicted of sin and broken before the Lord in repentance, and others have been saved for the first time. Hearts have been cleansed in the blood of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. Great joy has been in that place and the fruits of me Spirit have begun to appear in lives. After the disturbance of such an experience, sometimes involving the cessation for the time being of the usual routine, normal activities are resumed, albeit at a higher level. However, nobody seems to expect such times of humbling and cleansing to continue, and alas, they do not. Gradually the new life begins to recede, and the higher level at which all seemed to be living seems to drop, until not long after that time of outstanding blessing things are not much different from what they were before. And though perhaps not all their gains are lost, they are none the less left with little more than a bright memory which contrasts painfully with the present state of things. And what is true of the experience of a group

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is often true of the individual, who has to lament, “Where is the blessedness I knew?”

Now what has gone wrong here? In that time of revival we were in a crisis experience, a Door experience. The Spirit was convicting us, and we saw Jesus as the One who would bring us into peace and victory if we would repent. But we did not see that the steps of consenting to conviction, brokenness, and repentance which we were taking, were not only the Door but also the Way which we were to travel ever after. We certainly saw that those humbling steps were necessary to bring us into the state of peace and fellowship with God which we needed, but we did not expect to have to repeat them too often! Surely, we thought, the blessing we were entering into would last amore or less extended period! That was just the mistake we made. Those humbling steps needed to be often repeated; those steps should have become the habit of our soul. The crisis should have led us on to a walk, and a walk consists of reiterated steps, the same steps which we took in the crisis. As we have seen, the Lord Jesus is the Way as well as the Door, and the steps by which we entered are to be continually reiterated if we are to walk the way of peace, power, and rest. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Co1. 2:6) continually. If we are to know His presence and power, there will have to be on our part continual willingness for conviction, a continual brokenness before the Lord, a continual repentance and a continual cleansing from sin in His blood, for sin makes its approach to us constantly. There is no such thing as a static experience of peace and holiness. Revival, holiness, and victory mean a constant walking with the Lord Jesus.

We once asked a missionary from one of the fields in East Africa where revival has been continuing for so many years, what was the leading feature, as he observed it, in the life of the fellowship out there. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Living with Jesus in the Now. ” They were finding the Lord Jesus as the Way indeed.

And now a word as to recapturing the lost experience. An outstanding experience of being filled with the Spirit can some

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times prove more of a curse to us than a blessing, for if such an experience be lost, the devil uses the memory of it to nag us and condemn us. That which was ordained to be unto life we find to be unto death. More than that, the devil uses that past experience to provoke us to try to regain it by the way of works, and we get more and more into darkness and despair a sour resolutions to do this or that prove abortive. The way back, however, is simple, so simple that it may elude us. It is simply to take our eyes off the blessings that Jesus gives, to cease to strive to recapture them, and to put our eyes on Jesus Himself, just as we are and where we are. Then He Himself will show us what is wrong with our present relationship with Him, and as we bow the head in repentance, we find Him again, but this time in a capacity more precious than ever before; as our new and living Way, involving us in a daily walk with Him in repentance and faith.

This Way may be thought of, then, variously as the Way of the Blood, or the Way of Repentance, or Walking with Jesus, or under some other term. They all mean the same. Christ Himself is the Way, and thereon His redemption is continually experienced. It is the primitive Way of the early Church which has today been lost sight of in the maze of merely human efforts and teachings, and has largely been superseded by the Way of works in its various subtle forms. As Jeremiah says, we have been caused to stumble in our ways from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, in a way not cast up (Jer. 18: i5), in which there is little repentance and little of the joy of there deemed. We need to rediscover each for himself that ancient path “where is the good way, and walk therein and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16).

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CHAPTER VIII
SEEING JESUS AS THE END

Now that we have seen the Way of We Blood of Jesus, and our need to walk it in repentance and true brokenness, we must ask ourselves, Where does it lead? What is its end? This is an important question, because the various ends we naturally set before ourselves in the Christian life are often very different from the one great End to this Way which God has appointed. It is this fact which accounts for the continual frustration we so often experience in our Christian lives and service.

The natural thing is for us to think that the way of repentance, humbling, and surrender will lead us to being made powerful in His service, to being much used of God in winningsou1s, to having our Church filled with an increasing number of seeking souls; in short, that it will lead to revival and to spiritual success. Much that we have read of the lives of outstanding men of God has led us to believe this. We have read that there came a time in their experience of being broken down before God, of full surrender, and of being filled with His Spirit, from which time it seemed God was able to use them mightily. How easy it is for us to think that if we go the same way we shall arrive at the same end. Even as we submit to the Spirit’s conviction and seek to repent and surrender more completely, we have this end in mind, and there lurk mental pictures of what we shall become one day. I remember the embarrassment in my mind when, having given my testimony of the Lord’s dealings with me to a fellow worker in the field of evangelism, he asked me, “Has all this meant more fruit in your meetings, more souls saved?” I was embarrassed because I could not say it had, and I felt it should have and I certainly wanted it to be so. It was the end expected both by myself and others, and I was disturbed that it had not worked out.

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Others of us may be willing to let God deal with us, and to put things right, because we feel that in this way we are going to have peace and happiness and become the joyous, released personalities we have always longed to be. That is the end we have in mind. Yet others have the thought that if they are willing to be broken and repent, it will provoke the other person to repent too, and there will be a much needed relief from tension in the home. That is the end in mind as they seek to respond to the Lord an easier situation in the home. And so we could go on. None of us need look any farther than our own hearts to know the ends to which a full response to Christ is normally thought to lead, and which often become the motive for such a response. It is because these and similar things are ends that God seldom allows us to achieve them, and that we are characterised by so mute striving and frustration. They are the wrong ends.

That this is so is made clear when we understand what Jesus said was the true End of the Way. To get His word on the point, we must go to John i4, the passage with which we have already been dealing, and in which He says, “I am the Way. ” Follow the argument of the passage. Jesus had said a surprising thing to HE disciples, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. ” Thomas replied (colloquializing it a little), “That I just what we don’t know. We don’t know whither, nor do we know the way. ” “Oh yes, you do know the Way, “said the Lord in effect, “for I am the Way. Knowing Me, you know the Way. ” But where did the Way lead? To the Father, of course, for He went on, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. ” But the Father was not unknown to them either, for He continued, “If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father ado. ” Philip, quite puzzled, joined in at the point and said, “Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us. ” It was in reply, to this that the Lord uttered the stupendous words, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. ” Thus it was they discovered that they knew both the Way and the Whither, for the Lord Jesus was both. For us, too, He is both the Way and the Whither. In finding Him, men have not only found the Way, but the End, too. We do not have to go

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beyond Him to something else to satisfy our needs. He is the End of all that we need, and the simple, easy accessible Way to that End.

In the light of this we can see what some of us have been doing. We have been availing ourselves of Jesus and His blood as the way, but to ends other than Himself. We have been willing to go to all lengths to put things right, sometimes at great cost to ourselves, because the end we seek is seen to be so desirable. The intensely earnest soul will pray, “God, I will pay any cost to have revival, to enjoy Thy power on my ministry. ” But in the shadows around those ends there often lurk the subtle motives of self interest and self glory. Little wonder, then, that in spite of our agonizings in prayer, God has not allowed us to reach those ends. Even if our motives are quite free from self interest, those things are still not to be the end nor the reason for which we get right with the Lord. Our end is to be the Lord Jesus Himself. The reason for which we are to get right, is not that we might have revival, or power, or to be used of God, or have this or that blessing, but that we might have Him. Our sin has caused us to slip His hand; a cloud has come between His lovely face and ourselves, and at all costs we want to find Him and His fellowship again. That, and that only, is to be the reason why we should be willing to go the way of repentance not for any other motive than that we want Him. He is to be the End; but alas, other ends, idols all of them, have taken His place in our hearts.

The story of the ten leprous men who were healed by the Lord Jesus is a graphic illustration of this. Of the ten, only one, when he discovered himself healed, returned to Jesus to give Him thanks and glorify God. The other nine held on their way, eager to enjoy the new life into which their healing from leprosy had introduced them. To them the Lord Jesus was but the means to the end, the end being a life of health. But to the other who fell down at His feet, craving fellowship with the One who had healed him, He was not only the means but the End Himself.

Such is the humility of our adorable Lord that He is willing in the first days of our spiritual experience to be a means to

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such ends as peace and happiness and power. Indeed, with men in their sins, enlightened self interest is all that God has to appeal to. What is the Gospel appeal “Flee from the wrath to come” but an appeal to such self interest? And, as I say, He is willing for us to see Him and His atoning Cross a Way to such an escape, such an end. But not for long can He allow us to go on making Him the means to ends other than Himself. He knows all such ends will not satisfy our hearts, for we are made for Him, and we are restless till we rest in Him. Moreover, such ends, if that is all we come to, would fail to satisfy His heart, for the Bible tells us that the whole purpose of Jesus on the Cross was to reconcile us “unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). Again, we are told that God has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Eph. 1:5), and that Jesus gave Himself for us “that He might. . . purify unto Himself a peculiar people” (Titus 2 :14)

So it is that He allows us to be frustrated and disappointed in our strivings after this or that end until at last He comes to us and says, “My child, I never promised you that if you would surrender, repent and get right with Me, you would have an eased situation, great power, success in your service, or even revival. What I do promise you is that, if you will walk with Me, and allow Me to show you sin as soon as it comes in and cleanse you from it, you will have not these things, but ME. Make Me your End and you will surely have that End, and you shall be satisfied, lacking nothing that is in the will of God for you. ” The shameful thing is, however, that, when this comes home to us, we feel a little disappointed. We have to admit it was not Himself we really wanted, but rather His gifts, and that for subtle, selfish reasons! As the hymn writer says, “I yearned for them, not Thee. ” That is why He has not allowed us to have them!

This explains to me something that used to puzzle me in my early Christian service. Years ago, in my evangelistic ministry, it appeared to me that the key to the situation was the Christians. If there was a blockage of sin there, then the Holy Spirit could not work amongst the unconverted. I could find,

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I thought, various Scriptures to support this view. It seemed clear that if the Christians would repent of their sins and get right with God, then the Holy Spirit would be free to move in power amongst the lost. Consequently, I began to devote the first week of my campaigns to speaking to Christians and calling them to repentance, and very often God blessed them greatly, and there was real repentance at the Cross. But when, in the second week, we turned especially to the unconverted, things were sometimes difficult, and there was not always the mighty working of God that I thought there should have been. The reason now is clear. Our repenting and getting right with God was a means to an end, the end being that souls should be saved an end other than Jesus Himself. We had our eye on that all the time we were getting right, and that was why God could not set His seal to it. We were repenting “under law” as a sort of bargain with God. We were ultimately driven to God in prayer, and when at last souls were saved, it was not because we had repented, but because He was gracious. We should have got right just because we were wrong and because we loved Jesus, and our sins had made Him hide His lovely face from us, and at all costs we wanted Him back. That such revived, radiant Christians would be a powerful inducement to the lost to turn to Christ is indeed a fact, but that would not be the end for which they repented.

The wonderful thing is, however, that when we are willing to be convicted of the sin of making these other things our ends, and to have the Lord Jesus as our only end, God delights to give us with Him many of these very things which we are now not seeking first. “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). And who can tell what is not included of His generosity in those “all things”? What wonderful things will He not do for those who are willing to walk with the Lord Jesus for His own sake!

Perhaps the best illustration of this is the incident of Solomon asking for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5 13) When God said to Solomon: “Ask what I shall give thee”, he was, so to speak, offered a blank cheque. Instead of seeking selfish ends, he simply asked: “Give therefore Thy servant an understanding

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heart to judge Thy people. ” The margin puts it “a hearing heart!’, that is, a disposition of brokenness which is willing to listen to God, and to be told what to do. God was so delighted that Solomon made this the end that he was seeking that He said: “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given One a wise and an understanding heart. ” He got the end that he was seeking. But that was not all: “I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. ” God threw in with the one thing he desired the many other things which had ceased to be chief ends for him, and God did so just because they had ceased to be such to him. So it will be with us when we, too, cease to make other selfish things the end, and are content to see in Jesus only our end. With Him God will give us all that is in His will for us.

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We have just considered the ends which we seek, which come short of Christ. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves seeking ends beyond Him.

We may not fail to see the importance of the way of repentance, and the need for the cleansing of the blood of Christ. We may be those who are open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and are willing to come back to the Cross when necessary. But we feel that the blessing we seek, and need so much, still lies beyond. This applies very much to our search for such blessings as victory, power, healing, the fullness of the Spirit, and even revival itself. We believe the blood of Christ and our repentance certainly provide the way to that blessing, but not the very blessing itself. We are convinced that to get right with God at the Cross is but the preparation for God’s mighty moving in on us. For that we still have to pray and struggle and wait, we feel. We think we must now go on from Calvary to some other place in experience, say, Pentecost, and that the

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place of repentance at Jesus’ feet must be left for some much more positive position. Reasonable as all this may sound, the result is invariably the same we have not found the End which we seek. We are left still searching and dissatisfied, still without the glowing testimony, “I have found. “Surely God has something better for us than this. He has indeed, but only by our seeing His Son as the End as well as the Way. If the Lord Jesus said that in coming to Him men have found not only the Way to the Father, but the Father Himself, surely He means that to apply to every other blessing we seek. The glorious truth is that lie is Himself not only the Way to blessing, but the needed blessing itself; not only the Way to power, but our power; not only the Way to victory, but our victory; not only the Way to sanctification, but our sanctification; not only the Way to healing, but our healing; not only the Way to revival, but our revival, and so on for everything else. He is Himself made to us what we need. In Him dwells 0lthefulnessofthe Godhead bodily, as Paul says, and we are complete in Him (Col. 2 :10). In coming to Him as a sinner, as so often we must, we find Him to be just there all we need. We do not have to go any farther than the Cross into a blessing, which we imagine lies beyond. Pentecost is found, not at Pentecost, but at Calvary, where sinners repent, as is also revival and every other blessing. Way and End are the One Person, found together in the one moment of each successive act of repentance and faith.

We are now in a position to understand the reasons for many of the frustrations in the spiritual life. We have sought peace, holiness, victory, revival as blessings apart from and additional to the Lord Jesus, and they have for this reason eluded us. We have prayed and struggled for them and sought to fulfill allsorts of conditions, but in vain. We have even been willing to walk the humbling Way of the blood of Jesus, and to let Him convict us and bring us to repentance; but even so the great baptism of love and power is looked upon as something yet to be received.

In contrast to this, let us ponder again Paul’s great word,

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“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). J. B. Phillips, in his well known colloquial translation of the epistles, quotes it, “Christ is the end of the struggle for righteousness by the law to everyone that believes. ” * What a pregnant phrase, Christ is the end of the struggle! That for which earnest Jews struggled in those days was righteousness. This is not, in the first place, personal righteousness of character, but something even greater than that being right with God, or what we may call rightness with God. In going through the Epistle to the Romans, it is helpful whenever you come to the word “righteousness” to read “rightness with God”, for that gives the meaning of the word as Paul uses it. It was to achieve the rightness with God that the Jew struggled to keep his complicated law, but his failure to do so only condemned him in his heart, and the assurance that he was right with God on that ground seemed the more removed the more he tried. It was into this state of need that the apostle came with his glorious message, “Christ is the end of the struggle for rightness with God to every one that believes.” Christ had borne on the Cross for them the curse of the Divine law which they had so often broken, and now His blood was reckoned to them as their perfect rightness with God even while they were still sinners, provided they repented and put their faith in Christ. What was before to them but the distant end of many struggles was the beginning and basis of a new life received from Christ, from which they could go on. They were given the privilege of beginning at the end!

The Lord Jesus, however, is not only the end of our struggles for rightness with God, but for everything else for peace, for victory, for holiness, for healing, for revival. What struggles we have had to obtain these blessings, what excruciating surrenders sometimes, what prayings, what self mortifications, what battles to make our sinful hearts less sinful. But in coming to Him in helpless repentance and confession of sin we have come to the One who in the moment of our abasementis the very blessing we have been struggling for in so many

* J. B. Phillips in Letters to Young Churches

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other directions. He is our peace; He is our power; He is our victory; He is our revival. There is nothing beyond Him.

The well is deep and I require
A draught of the Water of Life;
And none can meet my soul’s desire
For a draught of the Water of Life;
Till One draws near who the cry will heed,
Helper of men in their time of need,
And I, believing, find indeed
That Christ is the Water of Life.
How often, however, is it otherwise with earnest Christians? I shall never forget sharing in a Conference in Alsace some few years ago, and having the privilege of working with an African leader, deeply taught of the Lord and possessed of that rare gift, the gift of revival leadership. The Lord had worked deeply, many had been convicted and melted, and, having come to the Lord Jesus with all that He had shown them, were gloriously set free and were returning home with their “cups running over” with praise to God. A small group who had been at the Conference, and who had been blessed like so many others, approached us and asked us if we would speak the next day at their prayer meeting for revival in the town near by. They told us that they had been meeting two or three times a week for several years, praying for revival, and now of course they were going to pray more than ever for revival. It was only before the meeting that the situation really dawned on us. Here were a people who had seen Jesus anew, had been convicted of their sins and knelt at His feet, and were freshly filled with Himself and they were going to go on praying for revival! This meant that they had seen Jesus only as the way to revival, and not as Revival itself. God gently showed them through the lips of that African leader that they were doing what many of the people did in the days when our Lord Jesus first appeared on the scene in Judea. They were still waiting for and praying for the coming of their Messiah, when all the time He stood there among them, unknown and unrecognized. Maybe He did not fulfill at that time their mental picture of what Messiah would be, but today He is at me right hand of the Majesty on High, Messiah indeed. In the same way, what
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God does in our hearts in the way of convicting and melting may not fulfill the traditional conception of revival; but if Jesus has come afresh into the central place, be assured it is revival; and who knows where this will end if we go on walking with Him?

It may be asked, Are we not, then, to pray for revival? Our first responsibility is to be revived ourselves, and to have a testimony that we have come to the end of our struggle and that we have found Jesus Himself as all we need, with all that that involves of repentance. Then we, and others in fellowship can pray that what God has done in our hearts He will do in other hearts in ever widening circles. We are not, then, praying for revival as something that has not yet come, but as Someone who has already come to our hearts, if to none others as yet. Revival has begun (and it has begun, even if the Reviver has come to only one heart), and it is now but a matter of it spreading. The beach head for new life established in but a few hearts needs now to be extended to other hearts, and to that end God will use our testimony and willingness for self giving quite as much as our prayers. Such prayers, however, will be offered by those who know they have found both the Way and the End; the striving and tenseness that characterize so much of our praying for revival will be absent, and a calm confidence and boldness will take their place.

Does all this mean that the one who has found both the Way and the End in the Lord Jesus has attained all the heights of spirituality that God has for him? By no means! He is still a sinner; he still needs the blood of Jesus; he still repents. Indeed, he is quicker to repent than ever, for part of his discovery is that the way of repentance is the way of proving the Lord Jesus as his all. What, then, has such a man found? He has found at last where the true gold is, and has sunk his shaft into that precious vein, the Lord Jesus. He is not now shaken or disturbed by the report of “lucky strikes” anywhere else, in this doctrine, or that experience, or the other emphasis. And the strange thing is, that after all his attempts to find the answer in so many other directions, he has come back to thievery same shaft he sank when God first saved him, that which

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he sank into the redemption of the Lord Jesus. He now only needs to go daily deeper in that one place deeper conviction, deeper repentance, deeper dying to self, deeper cleansing, deeper faith, and He will find the re and fullness of His living Lord as much as he ever needs.

Let us see Jesus, then, as the End and the easy accessible way to that End both of them consecrated by His blood for needy people no better than ourselves.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend.
My Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my He, my Way, my End
Accept the praise I bring.

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CHAPTER IX
SEEING JESUS FOR OTHERS

It is only when we have truly seen the Lord Jesus to be the End that we have come tithe beginning of the real Christian life that God has for us. As we have seen, what previously was the far distant End righteousness, peace with God, holiness, revival to be achieved only after many struggles, now becomes the beginning for us. We have found Christ Himself to be for us all those things, and we have seen His precious blood to be the easy accessible way to that End. We are now given the privilege of beginning at the End!

Now, what is involved in this new beginning? We hardly need to ask the question, for instinctively everyone who makes the new discovery knows that it is for others. The new testimony which such a one gives is not only that his Lord might be glorified, but that others should share the same life that he is enjoying. Indeed, it is the spreading of this new life in Christ to others which is the spreading of revival

Those whose normal climate of living is that of law rather than of grace will feel they are at last on familiar ground, and will expect here at least some exhortation as to what they have to do in the way of witnessing, soul winning, reaching others, etc. But no, not even here does grace quit the field. There never comes a time when grace ends and self has to begin again, and the applies to what we call our service as much as to any other part of our Christian lives. In no place do we need to know the Way of Grace more than in the impartation of this Lie to others. Our service for our fellows does not come from strained efforts on our part to live for them, but rather from seeing Jesus doing so, and then simply making ourselves available to Him that we may be the channel of His grace and power to them. This was the way in which He walkedin His relationship with the Father, and it is the way in which

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we must walk in our relationship with Him. Said He, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what lie seeth the Father do: for what things so ever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). And we, too, can do nothing but what we see the Lord Jesus doing. Until we see that, we are helpless, and our service is nothing more than self initiated striving. But if we will first seek to see what the Lord Jesus is doing in a situation, then we can move with Him, even as the Son moved with the Father, and in that co operation between man and God the true works of God are produced. Ours is not to originate anything, but simply to yield ourselves to Him to be the channel of what He initiates and carries through, and to trust Him to do so through us.

Let us state the truth simply and boldly the Lord Jesus is for others. Just as the vine does not bear its grapes for its own refreshment but for the refreshment of others, so has this Divine Vine chosen to be and to act only and always for others. All He did was for others. When He came from heaven, it was for others. When He laid down His life, it was for others. Even when lie was raised again from the dead, it was quite as much to justify others as to justify Himself and His claims (Rom. 4:24). Furthermore, the position He occupies just now in heaven is for others, for we read that He has entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). We sing about His present “riches in glory all His own”, but whereas they are His own, He only holds them for us. The Father has raised up His Son and appointed Him to be all the time for others, others, clam; and you and I are those guilty, undeserving others.

Not only is this what He is, but this determines what His purpose is. It is to recover these others to God and Himself through the redemption of His Cross, by the mighty working of His Holy Spirit among them. This is no wishful thinking on His part, but a settled Divine purpose which is backed by all the resources of heaven, and is therefore certain of fulfillment. And today, all over this world, redeemed at the cost of His blood, Jesus the Vine is bringing forth His fruit for the healing of the nations, and dying sinners, tasting of that fruit, live.

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The Lord Jesus, however, is not alone in this. He draws redeemed men into co operation with Himself in the out working of His glorious purposes, and they become His branches on which His fruit is borne. Just as apart from Him the branches can do nothing of themselves, so it is that apart from them the Vine does not bear fruit. They do not, however, produce or initiate the fruit; that is altogether His work. They simply bear what He produces as He lives His life again in them. This is exactly the picture that the Lord Jesus gives us in John 15 of our relationship with Himself when He says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches. ” The believer is constituted a branch in Christ who comes to dwell in him.

Just as the branch is to the vine,
I’m joined to Christ; I know He’s mine!
This means that he is made a part of the One who lives and acts only for the salvation and blessing of men, and He designs to bear His fruit for them on just such a branch. What a comfort to us, when conscious of our weakness, to know He is the Vine! But on the other hand, with what boldness and authority does not this endue us as we move among needy, hungry men I am His branch, a part of Him whose resources are limitless for the blessing of these men around me!
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Let us look more closely at this parable of the Vine and the branches, which illustrates more clearly than perhaps any other Scripture our union with the Lord Jesus.

He begins by saying, “I am the true Vine”. The construction of the sentence in the Greek gives special emphasis to the word “true”. Quite obviously the Lord is contrasting Himself with another vine that was not the true vine, which proved a failure. The Old Testament abounds in references to this vine. The Psalmist says, “Thou past brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparest room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and

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it filled the land” (Psa. 80:8, 9). This vine was Israel, and God’s intention in bringing them out of Egypt and planting them in their own land was that they might bring forth fruit for the nations, that in them all nations of the world should be blessed. But that vine failed of that high purpose, for they regarded their privileges and blessings as being only for themselves, and turned away from their God to idols. So it is we hear God saying, “Israelis an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself” (Hos. 10:1). There was plenty of foliage, but no fret for God or man. Again, He laments in another place concerning Israel, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?” (Jer. 2:2i). The most dramatic passage, however, about the failure of this Old Testament vine is the beautiful song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5:

“My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and butt a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

What a parable this is, not only of Israel, but of ourselves! What could have been done more to us that God has not done for us? Many of us can look back on a good and godly upbringing, when we were spared much that bas spoilt other lives. Then came the day, when hearing the message of grace, we received Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Those days were followed by marvelous privileges and blessings denied many others. We were taught, perhaps, by teachers well versed in the Scriptures; we enjoyed the fellowship of other saints; a sphere of service lay ready at our hand, and God poured innumerable

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blessings into our laps. Nor did we lack the personal attention of the Vine dresser, for He came to us often in pruning and in healing. Of each of us in varying degrees God has to say, “What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it?” And yet when He looked for grapes, the fruit of the Spirit, that would glorify Him and bless others, we brought forth only wild, bitter grapes, the ugly works of the flesh. Look again at these works which all too often are all that God has got from us. “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:

Fornication,
uncleanness,
lasciviousness,
idolatry,
sorcery,
enmities,
strife,
jealousies,
wraths,
factions,
divisions,
parties,
envyings,
drunkenness,
revellings, and such like” (Gal. 5:10-21 RV.).
There is everything here that is sour and hurtful, from sexual impurity to jealousy and a party spirit, but nothing for God or man. This is the fruit that we have served to those at home, at work, and even in our church. And all this has been produced on a vine on which God has lavished so many privileges and so much care. And, strange to say, this has been the state of things, even when we vowed that it should be otherwise, and struggled to make it so.
Now, why should this be our experience? Why was this the state of things with Israel, God’s Old Testament vine? The simple reason was that Israel was the vine, and just as long as Israel was the vine, she could not but produce this kind of

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fruit, for such fruit is characters of fallen human nature, for its center is ever itself. If human nature could have been improved to produce sweet grapes, then it would have been seen in Israel’s case, for no vine received so much from God as they did. But in the failure of Israel was demonstrated the complete inability of man ever to be a vine to produce fruit for God.

This, then, is the reason for our failure, too. It is simply that we have been trying to be the vine; we have been trying to find a holiness and a love for others in ourselves and from ourselves which Scripture never encourages us to expect to find there. We have discovered what Paul had to discover long before us, when he said, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing” (Rom 7:18). Another who made the same discovery once prayed, “0 God, forgive me the wrong I do by being me. “This, then, was the vine with which the Lord Jesus contrasted Himself. Thus it was that, standing in the midst of the ruins of the vine which had been such a sorrow to God, He cried, “I am the true Vine. ” It was as if He said, “Man’s day of being the vine is over. God’s judgment of him as the vine is to be completed in My body on the Tree. From no won, I am the Vine. From Me now is God’s fruit to be found and from nowhere else. ” Rightly understood this is the best news we could have. God no longer expects us to be the vine. We need not even try. The responsibility for producing fruit is no longer ours. God has His own true Vine, the risen Lord Jesus, who is well able to produce all the fruit that God requires for others, and to fulfill all the purposes of His grace for men.

But we where do we come in? Simply as branches in Him, the Vine. We do not produce the fruit, but simply bear what He produces, as we permit Him to live in us. This throws anew light on those words of Pad, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live” (Gal. 2:20). There is a Paul here who was crucified with Christ, and a Paul who none the less lives. Which is which? The Paul who was crucified with Christ was Paul the vine, the man who vainly tried to do his best. The Paul who nevertheless lived was Paul, the branch, the man

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who was broken as to his self confidence, and was dependent on his Lord. And in Paul, the branch, the Lord Jesus lived His life again, for he goes on to say immediately, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”, just as the vine by its sap lives in the branch. Jesus became for Him the Vine, the source of all the fruitage that was seen in his life and service.

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We come now to the practical implementing of all this in our daily experience.

It is possible for any of us at any time to assume the position, often unconsciously, of the vine. We start the day as if it were our day and we make our plans for our day and fully intend to do our best for the Lord. The responsibility and government tis really on our shoulders, and we have subtly become the vine. But just because it is our day and we are the vine, things soon go wrong. People and circumstances upset our schedule and interfere with what we wanted to do, and there is a reaction of hardness, irritation, and resentment in our hearts, and often the sharp retort on our lips. The very responsibility of trying to be the vine makes us tense, and tenseness always predisposes us to further sin. If we are charged with the responsibility of some special piece of Christian service, our tenseness and reactions are often far worse, and we can go into that piece of service without calling them sin. It is little wonder that we return abashed and defeated.

The way of repentance, however, is ever open to us. Our true Vine, Jesus Himself, has, like many an ordinary vine, been tied to a stake, the stake of Calvary. He invites us to return to Him in repentance and to confess the source of these things as being our attempt to be ourselves the vine, receiving from His hands forgiveness and cleansing. Immediately He becomes the Vine to us again and we become the branch that rests in Him. And in the very place of failure, we have the fruits of the Spirit, the products of His life and nature. What an array of precious grapes they are, all of them for the blessing of others and all of them characteristic of Himself! What a contrast to

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the works of the flesh, so characteristic of us! “The fruit of the Spirit

love,
joy,
peace,
longsuffering,
gentleness,
goodness,
faith,
meekness,
self control” (Gal. 5:22, 23).
Inasmuch as the Scripture does not speak of the fruits of the Spirit, but rather of the fruit (in the singular) of the Spirit, it would seem that all of them are component of the first one mentioned, the all inclusive fruit of love, His love for the other man.
The way of victory is, however, always by repent