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THE soul of a saint in the body of a man of the world. 
The man of the world tingled to the finger tips with 
the thrill of the life of his time, yet the body was 
the frailest encasement of the virile soul. A chosen 
career broken by ill-health that dogged his steps 
from the beginning ; then, after four years cessation 
of work a second career begun, in an untried pro 
fession. Jonathan Brierley at once made his chair 
in a Fleet Street newspaper office the generating 
station of an intellectual and spiritual force that 
for well on to a quarter of a century was powerfully 
felt in every part of the English-speaking world. 
" Out of weakness he was made strong," and tens of 
thousands owed to him a faith that ceased to fear, 
a bluer sky, and a more genial climate of the 

My thanks to the many who, in response to a 
request, sent letters from "J.B.," and personal 
recollections. Most of all are my thanks due to 
the Rev. Harold E. Brierley, Pastor of Highbury 
Quadrant Congregational Church, who honoured 
me with the suggestion that I should write the life 
of his father. Mr. Brierley placed in my possession 
his father s journal, his note-books, much corres 
pondence, and other invaluable material. 



To Mr. John Brierley, of Leicester, only surviving 
brother of "J.B.," I am indebted for the means of 
filling in the chapter of his early life and education. 

"The more one thinks of it," said "J.B.," " the 
more plainly it appears that in all regions of thought 
religious, scientific, artistic, literary the question 
of questions, the pivot on which everything turns, is 
personality." His absorbing interest, as a " student 
of the soul," was personality. He is never happy 
if he is not getting at the innermost, original person 
ality of an author, a saint, a mystic, an artist, a man 
of the world. His own journal is a most affecting 
human document in its revelation of the personality 
of a highly gifted man, but most of all of a good man 
struggling against adversity, refusing to accept 
defeat, keeping the springs of his life always sweet, 
intent on using every ounce of his strength and 
every golden moment of his time in the service of the 
Master to whom the whole allegiance of his heart 
was given. 

If for no other reason this Life would be worth 
issuing for the model it offers of the Faithful Pastor 
a challenge to the indolent in the ministry, an 
inspiration to those who, at times, feel the burden is 
too heavy and are tempted to lose heart and slacken 

13 and 14, Fleet Street, 

February 2$th, 1915. 












X. THE BOOKS OF " J.B." 115 


" J.B/S " NOTE BOOKS 136 










The " Man of Thought " and the " Man of 
Action " 

To write the Life of a man who, to borrow his own 
phrase, lived almost entirely in the thought world, 
was a task from which the biographer might well 
shrink. Jonathan Brierley, known and loved as 
" J.B." for nearly a quarter of a century by a 
widening circle of readers, had no " strange, eventful 
history." Had he been a " man of action," his 
biographer might have been embarrassed by the 
richness of the material to be worked up into a 
picturesque and thrilling narrative. But he was 
just a preacher, a reader, a thinker, a writer. In a 
world that moves in the daily din and dust of busi 
ness, politics and amusement the mere thinking man 
fails to draw the attention of the crowd. And yet, 
after all, it is the man of thought, with the power of 
forcing others to think, who always exercises the 
" high command/ The man of action " does 
things," but the man of thought sowed the seed of 
action. The man of thought is the path-finder, 
letting the speculative imagination play around the 
facts and forces of his time. The man of action 
follows the beaten tracks, and spends his energy in 
" carrying on " according to the methods sanctioned 


J. Brierley 

by practice in his department. His watchword is 
" business as usual/ and novelty he distrusts because 
it means readjustment or scrapping of settled ideas 
in which he feels comfortably at home. He is the 
successful man and people write books about him 
that are given to bright and good young men with 
the injunction to follow in his steps. His enter 
prise is a ferocious transmutation of energy into 
activity. We perspire at the spectacle of his whirl 
wind motion. Great is his reward. We need him to 
keep us speeded up, but he has the defect of his 
quality. He is inclined, all the more if he is an 
Anglo-Saxon, to be contemptuous of the reading 
and thinking man. He prides himself on his " plain 
common sense." The idealist is dismissed as a 
dreamer. His dreams are pretty, but they are 
poetry, and no price can be quoted for them in the 
world s markets. And yet, if the man of action knew 
it, he owes everything to the man of thought. But 
for the idealists, the dreamers, the men who have 
lived in the thought-world, the twentieth century 
would have made no advance on the fifteenth or on 
the tenth. The men of thought are the prophets, 
and science, art, industry, commerce, politics have 
their prophets as well as religion. The prophet is 
usually ignored, he is sometimes stoned, if he is a 
major prophet, in his own age, but the age following 
puts up a monument to him, and ages after that 
canonise him. 

Take science, for instance. Bacon was a " man of 
thought," busied with queer experiments, evolving 
revolutionary notions as to the methods of investi- 


" Man of Thought " and " Man of Action " 

gation of natural laws and the right way of deducing 
the operation of those laws from the compilation 
and comparison of particular instances. What an 
old fogey he must have seemed to the men of action 
of King James s court and the city fathers of his 
time ; and how dangerous must his experiments and 
conclusions have seemed to the devotees of ortho 
doxy in philosophy and religion for it can scarcely 
be said that before Bacon there was any science 
rightly so called 1 But from the "thought world " 
of " deep-browed Verulam," soaring in his flights 
of disciplined fancy, have come very largely all 
the triumphs of modern material civilisation. 
Idealist, indeed, but like every genuine idealist, a 
ruthless hunter down of reality. Reality in every 
sphere is usually heavily overlaid with a huge dead 
weight of cumulative tradition, custom, habit, and 
it has to be ever and again dug down to and dis 
interred, or there would be no step forward, but much 
more likely steps backward ; for the commonalty of 
mankind is a praiser ~ of " the good old times/ it 
thinks the " wisdom of our fathers " must have 
been greater than ours just because they were ancient, 
and it is resentfully distrustful of the man who 
compels it to think and re-orient itself towards 

In industry, commerce and international rela 
tions, it was a few men of the thought world, 
Adam Smith, Ricardo and the like not in 
business themselves, but just, according to the view 
of the men of action of their time, musty professors 
and pedants of the study who overthrew the com- 


J. Brierley 

mercial system based on the principle that the way 
to encourage home trade is to destroy foreign trade, 
and that the best method of stimulating manu 
facturing industry is to reduce the consumption 
of the goods produced by artificially forcing the 
prices of those goods to prohibitive figures. Yet 
Smith, Ricardo, and their school sowed their seed 
of thought, and the industrial and commercial 
supremacy of our country and empire is the crop of 
that seed. The " men of action " get the riches, 
but they owe their millions to the men of thought. 

But what has all this to do with " J.B. ? " 
Just everything. He was the religious man through 
and through, but the religious man who believed that 
religion was the most practical thing in the whole 
world if you only get religion, and not certain 
ecclesiasticisms, rationalisms, dogmatisms, con 
ventionalisms, traditions that are the mere 
simulacra of religion, religious old clothes, often 
frayed very much at the edges, mildewed through 
too much hanging up in dark and airless wardrobes, 
moth-eaten and rotten, and offering very little 
protection to the soul of the man covered with their 
"looped and windowed raggedness." He was 
pre-eminently a student of the soul of man, and no 
Livingstone, Stanley, Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, 
or Mawson set out on an expedition into Darkest 
Africa or to the white worlds of the Arctic or 
Antarctic with keener zest of adventure than that 
with which " J.B." plunged into an exploration 
of his own soul or the soul of universal humanity. 
And what singled him out from many spiritual 


11 Man of Thought " and " Man of Action " 

psychologists was that no man was so absolutely 
free from any morbid introspectiveness. His 
physical frame left much to be desired, and for many 
years he was in his body a broken man, but his soul 
was robust and radiant, and it radiated health into 
the souls of those who read the essays into which 
he put the discoveries of his " adventures in the 

If only for the shining example he offers of a 
dauntless soul, triumphing over an enfeebled body, 
the story of " J.B." is worth the reading. So far 
from ever repining at his physical disability, "J.B." 
was the most uncompromising and unblushing of 
optimists. He was always amazed at God s 
goodness to him, at the riches beyond the reach of a 
Rothschild placed at his disposal. 

A spirit like his, in an age too disposed to cosset, 
physic and pity itself, was a priceless possession, 
and the sunny and bracing optimism of " J.B." 
was contagious to tens of thousands who only knew 
him through his Christian World essays. 

It was not till his chosen career as a Congregational 
minister was broken by nervous breakdown that 
" J.B." entered on his second and far-reaching 
career as a prophet of the pen. Such a breakdown 
would, to the ordinary man, have been the end of all 
things. It would have wrecked irrevocably the 
" man of action." But just because " J.B." lived 
in his thought-world he was buoyant to all physical 
depression. He resolutely declined to be scrapped 
as " broken in the war." A minister, passing 
through a time of tribulation, wrote to me : " You 


J. Brierley 

can t sink a cork by pushing it under the water." 
So it was with Jonathan Brierley. But, then, he 
had been all his life preparing himself unconsciously 
for his second career. Shall it be said that for that 
career he was predestined in the Divine plan ? As 
this book will show, he had regarded his mental 
powers as a most sacred trust, and time, to him, 
was a potential fortune, every moment of which 
must be valued as a grain of gold. In the ministry 
he was the most faithful of pastors, and his sympa 
thetic personal dealing with the members of his 
flock had given him that insight into human nature, 
and that sympathy with the psychology and the 
worries of the average man, which enabled him as 
philosopher always to keep his finger on the pulse of 
life. He always escaped falling a victim to the 
preacher s characteristic temptation of living in a 
professional, intellectual, theological thought- world 
that lifted him above and out of the mass of man 
kind, and from which it was impossible to get into 
any real touch with that mass. He had a real horror 
of living in a thought-world of unreality, and was 
saved from that danger by his consuming desire to 
be practically helpful. His physical weakness, 
often with much pain, went to the enrichment 
of his humanity as well as of his divinity. Similar 
weakness made Herbert Spencer shut himself off 
from humanity. Spencer set a noble example of 
intellectual zeal and industry, handicapped by the 
most unfavourable conditions, but he was hardened 
and driven into the cultivation of unsympathetic 
and selfish individualism. " J.B." was softened and 


" Man of Thought " and " Man of Action " 

became more tender, human, tolerant, more intel 
lectually and spiritually sociable, but then Herbert 
Spencer was self-centred, while to " J.B." the Man 
of Nazareth was the lode-star of his being, his 
constant Companion, the Master of all his thinking, 
in whose school he was always the most eager and the 
most submissive of scholars. Because Jesus was so 
real, so vital, so human, so divine, so sociable, so 
catholic, so responsive to every effort of the mind and 
heart, " J.B.," as his open-eyed and great-souled 
interpreter, was a prophet to his age, who comforted 
and strengthened troubled souls, and to many, 
alienated from a Christ who was a mere manufactured 
symbol of outworn ecclesiasticisms and dried-up 
dogmatic systems, Christ was made flesh and blood 
again, and received the whole-hearted allegiance 
which is always given to Christ the Person, though it 
is more and more denied to the Christ of creeds and 

Home and Education 

JONATHAN BRIERLEY was born on Christmas Day of 
1843. Is it fanciful to suppose that his coming into 
the world on the most joyous festival of the 
Christian year had its influence on the sunny out 
look of the religion to which Jonathan Brierley 
ultimately won his way ? As will be seen a little 
later, that outlook was not the outlook of the 
Brierley home. The father was also a Jonathan 
Brierley, in business as a lambs wool spinner. 
The Brierley family was of Yorkshire Nonconformist 
origin. Yorkshire Nonconformity at that time 
was of a dour, puritanical character. Yorkshire 
men took their religion as they took their business, 
with intense seriousness. Even to this day ministers 
serving Yorkshire churches testify to that serious 
ness and to a certain suspiciousness of the Yorkshire 
mind with regard to novelties in preaching and 
teaching which conflict with the conditions in which 
they have been brought up. The elder Brierley was 
born in a family that had become Methodist under the 
influence of the Evangelical Revival, but there is 
reason to believe that the Methodist feeling was 
combined with a considerable admixture of the old 
Puritan thinking and attitude towards the lighter 


Home and Education 

sides of life. Jonathan Brierley the elder had 
settled in Leicester in 1825. 

To Jonathan Brierley and his wife there were born 
six sons and one daughter. The receipt of the 
paternal Christian name does not mean that the 
infant Jonathan was the eldest of the family. He 
was, in fact, the fifth son. He was certainly not 
born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and there 
was very little " spoiling " of the Brierley children. 
The father believed in children being taught from 
their earliest years to depend on themselves as much 
as possible. They were expected to help them 
selves rather than look for constant help from 
their parents, and they were required to help 
each other in all sorts of ways. Mr. John Brierley, 
the surviving brother, to whom I owe these details 
of the early home life, says that this kind of training 
was found very useful in later days, leading to the 
formation of invaluable habits of self-reliance. The 
mother was a gentle and kindly soul, loved devotedly 
by all her children. Her most effective means of 
managing an unruly boy was a threat to "tell 
father" which she rarely did. 

Jonathan was sent to a private school kept by 
Mr. Benjamin Hill, where he picked up the rudi 
mentary elements of education which were thought 
sufficient intellectual equipment in those days for 
a youngster who was expected without waste of time 
to earn his own living. Mr. Hill was a Dominie who 
believed in a liberal use of the rod, and Jonathan 
was certainly not spoilt by the sparing of the rod. 
No doubt the schoolmaster had provocation, for 


J. Brierley 

young Jonathan was not of the order of the lambs 
whose fleeces were the staple of his father s manu 
facturing. He distinguished himself on the first 
day of his school life by challenging to combat one 
of the biggest boys in his class. The event came off 
in the dinner interval. The pugnacious new 
scholar put up a good pair of " bunches of five," 
and the bout ended in complete knocking out of the 
big boy. Most of his brothers shared the same 
militant temperament, which is, indeed, when 
directed into proper channels, a valuable asset to a 
young man bent on winning his way to the front. 

Jonathan, however, seems to have been a regular 
Achilles of the family, always " good at the battle 
shout," and losing no opportunity to show his 
mettle and his fistic skill. He was always more than 
ready to pick a quarrel, or take up a challenge, with 
the roughest boy of his neighbourhood, and he 
usually came out as victor, though not always with 
out showing signs of the combat. 

The Brierleys attended a Wesleyan chapel of a 
circuit on which the father was a local preacher on 
the plan ; and he was a class leader in the chapel 
itself. The father ruled with a strong hand in the 
home and brought his family up on strictly Methodist 
puritan principles. The boys, while young, showed 
no signs of revolt against their religious training ; 
on the contrary, after the fashion of preachers 
children, they would conduct " preaching services " 
of their own at home on Sunday afternoons when 
not attending the chapel ; a pulpit was constructed 
of four chairs, and " choir seats," and seats for the 


Home and Education 

congregation, were placed with such other chairs as 
were available. The service was usually a full one ; 
consisting of hymn, prayer, chant, Scripture lesson, 
hymn, sermon, collection, hymn, Benediction. No 
doubt, says Mr. John Brierley, the theology left much 
to be desired, but what was lacking in exactness was 
made up for by the fervent zeal. 

Attached to the house was a fair-sized piece of 
ground. The father was not a great enthusiast for 
horticulture and the garden was mostly in the rough. 
But there were some large apple trees and a summer 
house. The apple trees were extremely useful as 
places for the brothers to swarm up into, and the 
summer house was a regular conspirators den, 
where the brothers discussed ingenious plans for 
annoying the neighbours. It is not unusual for 
children of preachers, and of people not preachers, who 
have brought up their children under strict religious 
rule, to find such outlets for the suppressed old 
Adam in healthy boy nature. They were warned 
one 5th of November, under threat of severe penalty, 
not to touch any fireworks. The warning lent to 
fireworks the sweetness of stolen fruit. The boys 
contrived to get hold of a liberal supply of gun 
powder. They exercised their ingenuity in the 
manufacture of home-made fireworks by mixing 
steel filings with the powder. The result was very 
excellent squibs. Jonathan happened to have a fair 
amount of the powder concealed in his coat pocket. 
A spark from one of the squibs found out the powder, 
and the pocket was blown out and his clothes set on 
fire. His brothers had nearly to drown him to 


J. Brierley 

extinguish the conflagration. But that was nothing 
to the fact that it made concealment of their wrong 
doing to their father an impossibility. The conse 
quences to all of them were most painful, but it may 
be conjectured that, however painful the penalty, the 
lads considered that the fun had been worth it. 

Another Guy Fawkes escapade, in which Jonathan 
was a prime mover, is remembered. The scene was 
the garden, which was divided from the street by a 
wall about eight feet high. The corner boys of the 
neighbourhood, during the apple season, were 
given to scaling the wall and raiding the trees. 
Needless to say, the Brierley lads did not believe in 
practical socialism of this order, and when lads 
were caught red-handed Homeric battles ensued. 
On this particular Guy Fawkes day a bonfire had 
been built up and was nicely going when a noise was 
heard of somebody climbing the wall on the side of 
the street. The watchful and resourceful young 
Jonathan plucked a brand from the burning, stole 
to the wall and waited until two hands appeared on 
its top. He gently but firmly applied the glowing 
brand to the hand, and the " corner boy " let go 
with a howl. Unfortunately, the " corner boy " 
turned out to be no " corner boy " at all, and the 
brothers had a fearful shock when a burly policeman 
came round to the door and demanded compensation 
for his scorched hand and wounded dignity. He had 
only wanted to see the bonfire burning. Such 
incidents, at this distance, seem trivial enough, but 
the " J.B." that we have known counted nothing 
trivial. His bringing up with five high-spirited 


Home and Education 

brothers, each as full of mischief as himself, was an 
integral and important part of his education in life, 
and education in life was to him by no means confined 
to what could be packed into him in school. 

The school years with Mr. Hill were not many. 
In spite of his pranks and fights, Jonathan was 
quick-witted and absorbed teaching quickly and 
thoroughly. Mr. Hill was honest enough to tell him 
that he had learned all the schoolmaster could 
teach him. The father then decided to send 
Jonathan to another private school at Dewsbury. 
This was kept by Mr. Benjamin Bentley. Jonathan, 
in later life, was never a stickler for precedent, but 
being what he was it is not surprising to learn that 
history repeated itself on the day of his arrival at 
the Bentley school. He promptly arranged a fight 
with one of the biggest boys and, to the joy of 
all the scholars, it was carried through in approved 
hammer and tongs style. Jonathan was an easy 
winner. Possibly, even at that early age, he was 
an instinctive philosopher, and calculated on the 
psychological effect of establishing at the earliest 
opportunity his supremacy with his fists. He 
stayed at the Dewsbury school two or three years 
until, indeed, he had exhausted all that Mr. Bentley 
could teach him. And when he left it was with a 
well-earned reputation for diligence in study and for 
pluck in always taking the part of the weak against 
the strong. Jonathan, there is no doubt, was 
grateful to the weak for giving him a good excuse 
for measuring his strength against the strong. 

The time arrived to settle the question of what 


J. Brierley 

Jonathan should be put to as a means of earning his 
living. The father found it a knotty problem. 
He was only in a small way of business, and with 
the four eldest sons already in the business he did not 
require Jonathan s assistance. A suitable alter 
native was not easy to discover. Jonathan had 
shown no marked preference or talent for one thing 
more than another. After mature consideration 
the father negotiated with Messrs. Preston, glove 
manufacturers, for Jonathan to learn their trade. 
The lad entered the Preston factory, but it was 
very soon clear that he was not cut out for a glove 
manufacturer, and that some other line must be 
found in which he could expend his energy and 
acquire skill. The boy had, from the time he could 
read, showed a great interest in books. His father, 
as a local preacher and a great reader, had acquired 
a fair library. It was not a library that might have 
been expected to suit the palate of a light-hearted 
boy overflowing with life. The books were very 
largely of a heavy character theological, philo 
sophical, homiletic, historical. One can never 
prognosticate, however, what direction a boy s 
intellectual taste will take. Nature guides most of 
its creatures to the food that is most suitable to 
their physical upbuilding, and nature, it would seem, 
takes the same pains with regard to mental pabulum. 
Jonathan browsed in his father s library, and some 
how the heaviest books were those that attracted 
him the most. While yet in his teens, such tough 
morsels as Locke " On the Human Understanding," 
Adam Smith s " Wealth of Nations," and works on the 


Home and Education 

philosophy of religion and religious history, proved 
sweet morsels to him. He liked something he could 
dig his teeth into and found more pleasure in mental 
wrestling with books that most adults leave severely 
alone than in fiction, poetry and such light reading. 
The fiction and the poetry might, indeed, have been 
sadly to seek on his father s bookshelves ; anyway 
Jonathan wrestled with big books as victoriously as 
he had wrestled with big boys, and got as much 
satisfaction in mastering the books as he had had in 
mastering the boys. 

The knowledge of this seemed to give his father a 
clue as to the line in which the young hopeful might 
best be expected to shine, and he arranged for 
Jonathan to go as assistant to the firm of J. & T. 
Spencer, at that time the principal retail book-sellers 
in Leicester. To the lad this was as the opening of 
the gates of Paradise. He revelled in the prospect 
of the feast of reading which would be at his disposal. 
From Jonathan s point of view this was all right, but, 
unfortunately, his employers soon found it was all 
wrong. When customers were at the counter at 
which Jonathan was supposed to serve, they often 
failed to attract his attention, so absorbed was he 
in the reading of the books which were for sale. As 
his son Harold puts it, " My father thought more of 
prophets than of profits, and he was reading the Minor 
Prophets when he ought to have been selling them." 

The fact that the lad had read with such relish the 
theology and philosophy in his father s library, and 
that the Minor Prophets had had such a fatal fasci 
nation for him in the bookshop, makes it the less 


J. Brierley 

surprising that, on his leaving the bookshop, he 
should have pleaded with his father to be sent to 
college for training as a Congregational minister. 
The elder Jonathan would have regarded the appeal 
as one to which ready and joyous consent would have 
been given if it had been the Wesleyan Methodist 
ministry that his son desired to join. The father 
was a Methodist as a Roman Catholic is a Papist ; 
outside Methodism, according to his conviction, few 
there were that would be saved. Young Jonathan, 
indeed, had already been under fire as a local preacher 
and had been admitted on the plan. He had 
preached in the half-dozen chapels composing the 
circuit, and the congregations of the country chapels 
asked for him to be sent again. His brother says that 
his sermons were marked by an individuality which 
commended them to the plain country people and 
none were ever found nodding when he was preaching. 
Religion had laid its strong hand upon him. 
He felt with increasing intensity the claims of God 
to the love and allegiance of every man, and in a 
simple, practical and forceful style he urged those 
claims on the conscience and the hearts of his hearers. 
There had been, as often happens to an active- 
minded young man, taking a serious interest in the 
spiritual side of life, a storm and stress period. 
Jonathan Brierley was not the kind of man to take 
anything for granted, or to be satisfied without 
examination with the "traditions of the fathers." 
The atmosphere of the home in regard to religion 
was of the kind that leads an active youthful mind 
to revolt sooner or later. The uncompromising 


Home and Education 

Methodism of the father was all very well when the 
children were in tutelage, before they had entered 
their teens, but more than one of the boys, when he 
reached the age of thinking for himself, found the 
father s shutting up of all light and truth within 
the confines of Methodism as taught by John Wesley 
an unsupportable imprisonment of the spirit. 
Jonathan, at one time, had a desperate fight for his 
faith. He was not given to refer to this trouble, but 
in a late address on " Thought Life," which will be 
found as an Appendix, he says, 

" My heart bleeds, and my blood boils, as I think of the 
terrible persecution which religion has undergone at the hands 
of these teachers, and which has turned men away from it 
in disgust. I can sympathise with such people. I have been 
right through this experience when quite young. I think 
I was a little mystic. I know how full my soul was of religion. 
Heaven and earth seemed full of God and of glory. But 
as I grew up it was like the weather we have been having lately, 
where a day began in brightness and got cloudy later on. 
I came in contact with the theology of forty years ago, 
theology made in the dark ages which made me shudder 
and revolt. If ever there was a despairing sceptic it was 
J.B. at sixteen. What could I get out of it ? I got a 
revelation. It came to me in my reading of the New Test 
ament. Faith I find is one thing and men s opinions and 
creeds are another. I saw what a fool I was to allow myself 
to be cheated of my interest in God and Christ and the 
New Testament and the Fellowship of Saints. I have kept 
that ever since. Yes, God, Christ, the Bible, these are mine 
forever, and they may be yours. Young people, keep to these. 
Don t let anybody teach you harsh doctrines of God, cheat 
you out of your spiritual inheritance. When you eat fish 
you need not swallow the bones. See for yourselves, take 
what you can and grow by it." 


J. Brierley 

Whether he told his father of his soul s struggle 
is uncertain, but it is reasonable to suppose that the 
father s limitation of thought and action to Wesley an 
Methodist doctrine and policy had a great deal to 
do with Jonathan s choice of the Congregational 
denomination as the body in which as minister he 
would find himself most at home. It may be also 
that the fierce Reform controversy in the Wesleyan 
Methodist Church had a potent influence on the 
young man s mind. The father himself was inclined 
towards the Reformers as having most in common 
with the pure doctrine of John Wesley. He was a 
marked man in consequence with the dignified 
sticklers and the official big-wigs of the circuit and 
District, who regarded any breaking away from them 
as an unpardonable sin. Though he had been for 
many years a class leader and a local preacher, he 
was put out of class and his name erased from the 
plan along with many others. Friends for a life 
time were sundered, arrayed against each other 
in separate camps, and there was extreme bitterness 
of feeling. On Monday morning, at the Brierley 
house, three or four of each party used to meet for 
some time to discuss the situation. The young 
people were interested listeners, but were not allowed 
to take any part in the discussion. None the less, 
they had their own opinions, and expressed them to 
each other very freely when the father was not there 
to correct them. They sympathised with him for 
his devotion to principle and his sturdy adherence 
to his convictions. They regarded him as a martyr 
and became Reformers of a ferocious type. Later 


Home and Education 

on, however, the pull of the old body, with its long 
and dear associations, led the father back to 
Wesleyan Methodism. The lads lost much of their 
faith in him, and stoutly refused to follow him back 
into what they regarded as the enemy s camp. The 
result was that very strained relations were created 
within the home. It was at this time that young 
Jonathan made up his mind, if his father would allow 
him, to study for the Congregational ministry, and 
worried his father until he obtained his consent to 
his entering the Nottingham Institute. 

It only remains to be said that the religion of the 
Brierley home, as regards the views instilled into 
the children and the theology of the father, was of 
the gloomiest and of the most repellent character. 
There was more of Puritan Calvinism than of 
Methodist Arminianism in the father s theology. 
It was the fear of God and not the love of God that 
was impressed upon the children. Satan played a 
very large part in the home teaching of religion. 
He was a personal devil of the darkest dye whose 
chief delight was in setting traps for naughty children 
and taking count of their little peccadilloes with a 
view of exacting the full penalty from them in an 
Inferno out of which there was no escape through 
all eternity. Such being the atmosphere and such 
the state of affairs at the time, it is not surprising 
that young Jonathan shook the dust of Methodism 
off his feet with a deep breath of satisfaction and a 
sense of escaping into a larger, freer and more 
invigorating air. 

Schools of the Prophets 


to give a practical pastoral training to candidates for 
the ministry whose circumstances made it im 
possible for them to enter a College of the advanced 
kind, where the course extended over four or five 
years. It was felt that many young men, feeling 
that they had a vocation, of guaranteed Christian 
character, and with a tested gift for preaching, 
were promising material for converting in three 
years or so into serviceable pastors of country 
churches. The first Principal, who was at the head 
of the College when " J.B." entered it, and remained 
at the head until 1897, was Dr. J. B. Paton. Under 
his direction, for more than forty years, the 
Nottingham Institute splendidly fulfilled its purpose. 
The doctor was a man of almost incredible physical 
and mental vitality. Even as a boy, in his native 
South-west of Scotland, he was amazing and dazing. 
At the age of eleven he was put to work in the 
printing office of a country paper. Within a few 
months he was assisting the sub-editor, and in a 
single year, before he was out of his teens, he 


Schools of the Prophets 

founded and acted as secretary to a couple of 
Temperance Societies. After serving for a short 
while as usher in an uncle s school at Cheltenham, 
young Paton entered Spring Hill College, 
Birmingham, to be trained for the Congregational 
ministry. There he sharpened his wits against 
those of his fellow student, R. W. Dale. The 
Nottingham Institute was founded on the condition 
that Paton became its head. He was never the 
mere academic don. Everything that was human 
interested him, and his fertile brain was constantly 
throwing out ideas that fructified in practical 
realisation. He started land colonies for the 
making of men of the unemployed and unemploy 
able, " Colonies of Mercy " for the care and training 
of epileptics, Home Reading Circles, and the 
Brotherhood and Adult School Movements; and a 
dozen other agencies either owed their origin to him, 
or found in him their powerful supporter and 
propagandist. When he was well on to his eightieth 
year Dr. Paton s son said to me, " My father is the 
youngest member of our family." " J.B." could 
not in all England have found a man better fitted to 
guide and inspire him in his preliminary training 
for the ministry. Dr. Paton laid the heaviest stress 
on the importance of the general culture of the 
student being attended to. Everything was done 
to quicken his mental activity, to teach him to 
think for himself, and to induce him to work for all 
he was worth. The Institute was not to be a mere 
cramming machine, turning out neatly finished young 
fellows conformed to a conventional type. The 


J. Brierley 

students were made to realise that the ministry was 
not merely a clerical profession, but that it was a 
prophetic calling, for success in which mind and 
heart must work together at their fullest power. 
In addition to the pastoral and homiletic courses, 
and such instruction in Biblical knowledge and philo 
sophy as was possible under the conditions, the 
young men were sent out to supply village and small 
town pulpits of the country side and were encouraged, 
even during their College training, to engage in all 
sorts of active Christian work. 

There can be no doubt that Dr. Paton had a great 
and beneficial influence on the shaping of Brierley s 
mind at its most pliable period. Paton was nothing 
if not practical. His consuming concern was to 
invest religion with reality and bring it into constant 
and direct touch with life. At the same time he was 
a ravenous devourer of books and communicated his 
insatiable appetite to his students. To Dr. Paton 
indolence was a sin against the Holy Ghost as it was 
ever after to Jonathan Brierley. Brierley became a 
miser and usurer of his minutes. He was not content 
with just the studies prescribed by the College 
authorities. He read for himself and began to pick 
up languages in order that his voyages of intellectual 
discovery might be extended. In one of his essays 
we get an inside view of the Brierley who was the 
same, only more so, if we may so express it, from the 
time when he browsed in his father s library to the 
closing days when he was still, in spite of domestic 
warnings, bending hour after hour over " heavy 
books " : 


Schools of the Prophets 

" How to spend our reading life is a question belonging 
to that Ethic of the Intellect of which most people think 
so little. Those who are eager for Life s Best will, however, 
in this department, take a very clearly marked line. They 
make a simple calculation. The world, they find, has produced 
a certain number of first-class minds that have left themselves 
on record. Their work is mental and moral society of the 
highest kind, to which we are freely invited. Why should 
we, whose time is short, and who have a thousand other 
things to do, waste its hours by lingering in the ranks of the 
third or twelfth raters when these elite are calling to us ? They 
lie scattered over all the ages and over all the languages. 
It is worth studying a language to reach one great book in it. 
Robert Hall learned Italian to get at Dante, and it was worth 
while. Robertson of Brighton said of certain volumes that, 
read and re-read, they had entered into his composition 
like the iron atoms of the blood. A certain splendour from 
these great spirits casts its glow upon all who come into their 
circle. However modest our own dimensions, the swing 
and momentum from these force centres will inevitably make 
itself felt in our character and action. To the world s first- 
class literature we may apply the words used by Madame 
Roland of Plutarch. It is the pasture of great souls. " 

To Brierley the mastering of a language was a wild 
delight. He was spurred on by dancing visions 
of masterpieces of thought and fancy, which, 
through the medium of the language, would be opened 
out to him. Again, let me quote from an essay 
which is really a self-drawn mental portrait : 

" We should think more hopefully of England s future 
if we could see our Englishmen of to-day more in love with 
difficult things. Our workmen, so called, are getting more 
and more leisure, but what are they doing with it ? Who 
of them, for instance, ever dreams of turning his free hours, 
as the German so constantly does, to the tackling of a foreign 


J. Brierley 

language ? If he would only try it he would find a good foreign 
grammar the most interesting book in the world. For one 
thing and just think of that it is all true. It will never 
grow out of date for you, and will never deceive you. Come 
to it when and where you will, and it has always the right, 
the accurate thing to say on the point you are seeking. Of 
how many books, ancient and modern, can you say as much ? 
And as you grapple with your difficulty in languages or 
any other research you discover how all your nature joins 
joyfully in. What puzzled you yesterday comes easier to-day. 
How is that ? Because the unconscious part of you, the forces 
that lie beneath your active will and consciousness, have 
come to your aid and have been working for you. They 
approve what you are doing and set their seal upon the work. 
And if even in the end you are not a success, you are at least 
a tryer, and that is a success in itself. 

" Intimately linked with that great find is this other ; 
that as a tryer you find yourself. You find not only work, 
but your work ; your message to and business in this world. 
We are all preachers of something or other ; and some of 
us are writers. And we have all our style. How did we 
get it ? There are innumerable books on style, which some 
of us have laboriously perused. We have, if we are 
ambitious, studied Quintilian and Aristotle ; we have sought 
the secrets of Cicero s flow, of the compression of Tacitus ; 
we know our Addison, our Burke, our Macaulay ; we have 
sought the phrasing, the epigrammatic sparkle, of France ; 
from Bossuet to Renan. You may do this and make a pretty 
jumble of it in the end. It has its uses, all that, for no honest 
work is useless. But it will be all a wandering in the wilder 
ness unless, by God s mercy, this happens that ultimately 
you find yourself. Find, that is, your own soul and its mean 
ing for this world and its message to it. When you have 
got your message, you have got your style. For, as Buffon 
has it, and it is the final .word here, Le style, c est I homme 
meme (style is the man himself). When you have, not to 
say something, but something to say ; when God s word 
to you has become a word in you, a word that burns to be 


Schools of the Prophets 

uttered, there is no more trouble about style. It will come 
out of you, just as your breath comes out of you, as an 
emanation of your very self. And men will taste it and 
savour it ; for it is no longer the chopped straw of dead 
material, but a bit of actual life. When a man has found 
himself his fellows speedily find him. For a part of the 
universe has taken root in him and is expressing itself through 
him. It has entered into him as deep conviction, as passion 
ate enthusiasm. Here is a ray of the eternal light, reflected 
through the medium of this one soul, whose separate angle 
of reflection returns this unique ray, needed to make the human 
vision of God complete. And this message, remember, is 
not that only of the professional speaker or writer. You 
may never stand on platform, or say a word in print. Not 
the less you have your message, if you will seek it ; the 
gesture of your own spirit, seen in the temper of your mind, 
in your whole attitude to life a beautiful, a significant 
message, if only we will seek it and find it." 

At the Institute Brierley was among the first batch 
of students, and his fellow students included some 
who were afterwards most faithful pastors and 
effective preachers. Brierley, however, was not 
content with what the Institute could do for him. 
His ideal of the ministry was so high that he felt he 
must have the most advanced and thorough training 

In 1864, ne was transferred from Nottingham 
Institute to New College, Hampstead, no doubt 
through his feeling the need of a longer and fuller 
training. The New College records show that he was 
accepted on probation as a lay student for admission 
on September 2gth, and was received as a full 
student on February 28th, 1865. The College 
course extended over five years, which might be 


J. Brierley 

extended or shortened by a year at the discretion of 
the Council. The five years were divided between a 
literary course of two years and a theological course 
of three. The Principal at that time was Dr. Robert 
Halley, and the Professors, Revs. Samuel Newth, 
John H. Goodwin and Maurice Nenser. 

When the College celebrated its Jubilee on 
November 6th, 1900, " J.B." was one of the old 
students who indulged in reminiscences. In filling 
in his answer to the usual questions put to 
candidates for admission to the College, he had stated 
that he had no theoretical objection to baptism by 
immersion. Asked what he meant, he said that his 
objections were practical. For instance, if asked to 
immerse a stout old lady of seventeen stone, he 
would wish to decline. Dr. Halley he described as 
vigorous and kind-hearted. He amused the audience 
by recollections of the sermon class. Once, when 
preaching on the nth of Hebrews, he was picturing 
the " procession of heroes marching across the field 
of history," when the noise caused by the dismiss 
ing of a class overhead caused the Doctor to ask, 
" What s that ? " A waggish student replied, 
" It s the procession of heroes, Doctor." Professor 
Nenser, who taught Hebrew and German, was a 
sparkling conversationalist, and Brierley, as his fellow 
students, had his wits sharpened by contact with such 
a lively and engaging personality. 

Surviving contemporaries of Mr. Brierley at 
" New " agree that he was looked upon as among 
the most promising of their number, though he was 
no " pot hunter " of academic distinctions, prefer- 


Schools of the Prophets 

ing to follow his own lines of reading. Rev. Alfred 
M. Carter, now at Southend-on-Sea, says that in 
Dr. Halley s sermon class " both the matter 
and expression of his early efforts charmed us all, 
and criticism fell very flat/ In debate and in the 
conversational discussions in which he revelled, 
he was very ready, and always effective. He could 
give a prompt and satirical exposure of any error 
of statement or fallacy of argument, but with the 
merry twinkle of his eye, and the friendliness of his 
manner, he contrived to crush a man without giving 
occasion for offence. In denouncing wrong, or 
appealing on behalf of righteousness and truth, 
he was always intensely in earnest. His geniality 
made him a popular comrade. " We all thought/ 
says Mr. Carter, " that preaching would be 
Brierley s chief means of usefulness, but feared 
even in College days that his frail physique could 
scarcely stand the strain of his vehement outpourings 
in the pulpit." 

A contemporary student, who left College in the 
same year, Rev. Ira Boseley, says Mr. Brierley always 
seemed fragile, and when between the classes other 
students sought relaxation in the common room, 
Brierley was always reading a book or magazine. 

" When I expostulated with him for neglecting physical 
exercise, he exclaimed that he had established the College 
Cricket Club, but I question if he often played cricket. On 
meeting him a few years ago he gave me a dig in the ribs and 
said : Boseley, if you and I were rolled together we might 
make a decent man between us. In the sermon class I 
remember he wrote a striking sermon on Ezekiel s vision of 
the dry bones, but his exegesis would scarcely have passed 


J. Brierley 

muster with a professor of the traditional school. J.B. , 
however, did not fear professors, for he did not hesitate to 
challenge their statements and to argue them out with them. 
In the College debates his fellow students were often impressed 
with his mental alertness and argumentative power." Only 
three months before his death " J.B." wrote to Mr. Boseley 
a letter on the death of an old mutual friend. He said, " It 
made me feel how terribly the circle of one s own comrades 
is narrowed. We need to cherish the more those who are 
left. I am grieved to hear of your serious ill-health. That 
must be very trying. I too, as you know, have now, for 
quite a while, been driven out of the fighting line, so far 
as all public appearance is concerned. I keep going only 
by the utmost care, and the most absolute quietude. I 
can t even attend church, or any public gatherings of any kind. 
It is, of course, trying, but then one has a thousand blessings 
to be thankful for. My work as a writer is an immense solace, 
and the more so as I receive from all parts of the world such 
warm-hearted testimonies and expressions of gratitude. I 
seem to have such a host of unseen friends. To feel that 
you have been really helpful to troubled and burdened souls 
is indeed a great reward. I do hope you will have mitigation 
of your own physical trouble. Above all, we have our loving 
God and the immortal treasure of the spiritual life. I seem 
to have a firmer grip of all these than ever I had before." 

Another New College contemporary, now Dr. 
W. Evans Darby, Secretary of the Peace Society, 
says : 

" During my college course it was my privilege to be on 
terms of intimate association with J. B. We were class 
mates and chums. He was one of the first to greet me, and 
made a strong impression which deepened with our growing 
intercourse. I remember well how, from the first, he stood 
out from others as a quiet, thoughtful, diligent, and manly 
student. He struck me as being town-bred, self-confident, 
of good general education, and a voracious reader. From 


Schools of the Prophets 

the first, he took a prominent position in our debating society ; 
he generally spoke in our debates, and proved himself an 
able, original, clear, and effective speaker. 

" The men of our year were good students, all of them, with 
the usual exceptions of those who could not study, to whom 
the pons asinorum was impassable, however earnestly 
and hard they tried, though otherwise good fellows, and 
often good preachers. They excelled in other ways. The 
studious section to which Brierley belonged, and which 
formed the majority of the class, were hard and devoted 
students, who emulated each other in a friendly way, and 
stood well both in class work and exams. New College 
was not in those days a school of the London University 
that was to be a later development though it was associated 
with it, and secular degrees were obtainable, Divinity 
degrees being at that time beyond the reach of Nonconform 
ists in this country. The Arts Course in the College was 
arranged so as to give an opportunity for graduation in the 
University. In the event of a student having matriculated 
before entry, this was comparatively easy ; if not the work 
passed beyond the limits of that course, and involved practi 
cally a dual curriculum which, to eager and not too robust 
students, might, and often did, involve serious consequences. 
This is what happened with J.B. , and some of the rest 
of us. At the end of the first session, the majority of our 
class sat for matriculation, and the majority of those, in 
cluding J.B., passed ; of two of the number who took German 
as the modern language, one passed ; others failed. J.B/ 
passed with eclat. Next session, the race was resumed. 
At the end of it, these eager class-mates went in for the First 
B.A. , as it was then called. Most of them passed, but again, 
two took German and were both plucked. After that came 
the Divinity course, and the College work for those who had 
passed became more exacting. When the session closed, 
J.B. took his B.A. in the first division. But by this time 
the pace had begun to tell more than one had given out 
physically, and when in the following session he proceeded 
with the usual fervour to study for the M.A., he found it 


J. Brierley 

was too trying, and very wisely decided to reserve his 
energies for the regular Divinity studies, in which, as in 
all he touched, he excelled. This is my recollection of the 
most outstanding feature of our College intimacy, and it 
explained to me taught by a similar experience, though 
less fortunate, for some studies had to be postponed to a 
more favourable time, and other associations the physi 
cal restrictions that lay upon his splendid powers all through 
life, while it formed a bond of sympathy between us to the 
very end. This was enhanced by the similarity of develop 
ment in religious thought and experience ; in his case, 
hastened by a wide range of reading and by omnivorous 

At New College he remained the full five years. 
He matriculated at London University in 1865, 
and took his B.A. degree in 1867. He won the 
New College Burden Scholarship in 1869, and left 
to enter on his first pastorate in September, 1870. 

The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

A CALL to the pastorate of the Church at Great Torring- 
ton in North Devon was accepted towards the close of 
1870. The town, with a population of little more 
than 3,000, was reached from Exeter, but the railway 
at that time did not get nearer to it than the village 
station of Umberleigh, seven miles away. The 
scenery is among the most beautiful in Devon and 
gave to Mr. Brierley an endless variety of the long 
walks in which he found not only health but pulpit 
inspiration. The Congregational Church dated 
back to the Nonconformist Ejectment of 1662, and 
the Nonconformity had remained of a sturdy type. 

The church was in lineal descent from that founded 
by John Howe, the saintly author of The Living 
Temple, when Howe was ejected from the parish 
church. Is it far-fetched to discover analogies 
between "J.B." and John Howe? Howe was 
urged by the Bishop of Exeter, his old college 
friend, Seth Ward, who had had no scruples about 
conforming, to consent to re-ordination, and it was 
absolutely certain that if Howe had consented he 
would have received a Bishopric. " What is the 
hurt," asked the Bishop, " of being re-ordained ? " 
" Hurt ? " replied Howe, " it hurts my reason. I 


J. Brierley 

know that I was called once to the Lord s ministry. 
Can a man be called twice ? " In The Living 
Temple there is the same serene and catholic out 
look which was so characteristic of " J.B." Howe 
sees shattered humanity re-united in Cnrist, and all 
conflicting theological and ecclesiastical divisions 
done away with for ever. " J.B." reverenced his 
reason as did John Howe. He regarded reason as 
God s gift to man, as a spark of God s own Divine 
intelligence communicated to His children. Reason 
to him walked hand in hand with faith each 
reinforced the other. It is needless to insist upon 
the essential catholicity of " J.B. s" mind and heart. 
The Church in all the ages, the saints and sages, the 
theologians and philosophers, in the mind of 
" J.B.," were all broken lights of the Light Supreme. 
He was, like Howe, not a controversialist because he 
so clearly saw the many-sidedness of truth, and in 
men who differed most widely from each other he 
found simply thinkers who were looking at truth 
from different view-points, each mistaking the other 
for an enemy, because neither saw enough of the 
truth to comprehend more of it than the little 
segment that was visible to himself. 

Fortunately, a change has come over Torrington s 
demands on the preacher since the days of Howe, 
when the endurance alike of people and preacher 
was such as this degenerate age would shiver 
to think of. A biographer of Howe, speaking of 
his extraordinary diligence, says : 

" On public fast days, which were then much more frequently 
observed, he commenced Divine service at nine in the morn- 



(About the close of the New College period and at the 
beginning of his Torrington Ministry) 

The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

ing. He first offered up an extempore prayer, supplicating 
the Divine presence during the day, he then read and 
expounded a psalm, or a chapter, and afterwards offered 
another very solemn prayer, entering particularly, and with 
singular propriety, into the causes of their meeting. Next 
followed a sermon, the delivery of which took more than an 
hour ; then he again prayed ; after this a Psalm was sung, 
suited to the occasion, during which he retired to take some 
slight refreshment. At the close of the singing, he again 
entered the pulpit, prayed with great earnestness for a 
considerable time, and then preached another excellent dis 
course, concluding the service about four in the afternoon, 
by a solemn prayer and benediction." 

Jonathan Brierley was exacting enough in his 
demands on himself, but he would have panted in 
vain after his first predecessor. 

Like most young ministers he soon found himself 
a wife. He had been fellow Sunday School teacher 
at Oxford Street Chapel, Leicester, with Miss Selina 
Crossley, daughter of Mr. James Crossley, a member of 
theCrossley family of Halifax. Mr. Crossley was one 
of the best known of Leicester s citizens, and a 
leader of Liberalism of great influence. The pair 
were married at Walthamstow, where Mrs. Crossley 
was born and to which she returned on the death 
of her husband in 1872. 

The Torrington ministry began on the second 
Sunday of 1871. The first entry in the Diary is 
" Friday 6th. Reached Torrington. Met at Coach 
Office by several friends." The " Visitation Book " 
shows that the young pastor lost no time in getting 
to know his people. He was brought at once into 
the tragedy of life, for there is an entry for January 
9th : " Mrs. s daughter dead. Scarlet fever. 

J. Brierley 

Small cottage end of Calf Street." He was 
thoroughly in earnest. 

As minister, Mr. Brierley was a firm follower of 
Richard Baxter in his belief that the " faithful 
pastor," by his intensive dealing with persons, is 
many times more effective than the mere preacher, 
whatever crowds he draws, who deals only with 
people in the mass. He was not John Howe s 
successor at Great Torrington for nothing. His 
Journal and Visitation Book show how diligently 
he used all available means of getting into personal 
touch with his people. After his retirement from 
the ministry, while nursing himself back to com 
parative health at Neuchatel, in one of his earliest 
Christian World articles, he heavily emphasises the 
value of pastoral visitation, and advises ministers to 
get and read Baxter s Reformed Pastor. He says : 

" Baxter s work in Kidderminster may be recognised as 
a scientific experiment in the field of human nature, and 
one the results of which have established for all time the 
validity of certain processes with reference to it. Bring 
into operation on any scale, large or small, the same causes, 
and similar results may confidently be expected to follow. 
Let it not hence be supposed that I am expecting the 
Christian pastor in this business of visitation to be on every 
occasion tackling his auditors in cottage or workshop 
with theological problems or specific religious discourse. 
Let that come as it is needed. The essential point is 
in his being there his higher humanity, his Christian 
consciousness, his nature in all that it is worth, in 
immediate vital contact with this fellow man. Let the 
contact be established through sympathy, and the process 
of raising and redeeming has commenced. Apart from the 
consideration that the time to be devoted to this work would 
be, in my scheme, time redeemed from needless and injurious 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

pulpit preparation, I am bold to affirm that the method of 
individualising more upon souls in the business of visitation, 
is to one who knows how to turn his opportunities to account 
in itself a preparation of unsurpassed value to the preacher 
and the theologian. The Christian minister is a pro 
fessor of the science of human nature, and how can he gain 
his efficiency apart from a continual diagnosis of individual 
cases ? The poet, the dramatist, and the novelist, who are 
workers in the same field, know the value of the method. 
Fielding, Thackeray and Dickens were students of books ; 
but they would never have achieved their successes 
had they shut themselves up in their libraries and sought 
all their information there ; they could not afford to con 
fine themselves to second-hand studies, they must get 
face to face with the actual living fact, and bring to bear 
upon it there before them all the faculty of insight they 
possessed. If any man needs further convincing on this 
point let him put the matter to a practical test. Taking 
the method as it relates to public preaching, let him prepare 
two discourses on successive weeks on these two different 
systems and compare their effectiveness. For one, let him 
draw his inspiration simply from theological, literary and 
philosophical sources. The effect will hardly be electrical. 
For the other let him, in the earlier part of the week, 
prepare by a course of visitation, let him open his ear and 
heart to the pathetic story of human life as it is offered to 
him by one struggler after another in the great battle-field. 
Let him be a good listener and a keen observer, getting the 
entree to human interiors by the open sesame of a genuine 
sympathy. Let him, from this observatory, note the boundless 
variety of human experience and of human feeling. Then, for 
the discourse he is about to deliver, let him begin to gather 
up the results of his observations, and he will be overwhelmed 
with the richness of the field that has opened up. Every 
visit has furnished pictures for the imagination. Every life 
he has touched reveals itself as a poem, one an epic, another 
an ideal, a third a tragedy. Let him weave all or some 
of this into the structure of his thought. Let the discourse 


J. Brierley 

he is to deliver throb with this still sad music of human 
ity. With rapid touches of the true artist let the audience 
be made to see what he has seen, and to feel what he has 
felt, and there will be, I venture to predict, no sleepy person 
in his congregation. Such a preacher will never run dry, 
for the field he works in is inexhaustible." 

Before me is the Visitation Book kept by Mr. 
Brierley from the beginning of his pastorate. He 
makes such notes as these : 

Young people s party at Mrs. . Not introduced 

to me by name. Note : always in future, if possible, get 
introduction by name in order to know people. 

Visited Mr. , carpenter, young, married, one child, 

Just begun business. Ill with rheumatic fever. Active at 
Ragged School. Bottom of Wells Street, left side going down. 
At chapel sits before Mr. . 

Visited Miss , aged. Laid up with cold. Row of small 

cottages off Baptist chapel. Last door but one, going down 
street. Other people who come to church in same row. 
Miss - formerly member of Baptist church. Sits in 
second pew right-hand aisle going in. 

Visited Mrs. , widow. Sons in Australia. Poor. 

Confined at present to room. Next door to Belle Arms. 

Visited Mrs. . Husband just died. Cottage in 

Castle Street. Children do not come to school. 

Such entries show that the pastor practised what 
he preached, and preached to people whom he took 
care to know. 

In a letter from Torrington, an old member of the 
church, Mr. W. E. Medland, architect and surveyor, 
tells me that he first met " J.B." in 1865 or 1866, 
when he heard him speak in a debate in New College 
Lecture Hall, opened for and against by Llewellyn 
Be van and Samuel Pearson. Brierley s speech was 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

warmly applauded, and Bevan congratulated him. 
Mr. Medland says : 

" I little thought at the time that within three years 
J.B. would be my minister in my own native town of 
Torrington, and that I should have the honour of giving 
him his first drive through the charming lanes of Devon, 
between the railway station and our town, a distance of ten 
miles. It was a delight that he never forgot, reminding 
me of it on his last visit here. Our church was his first love 
and it always kept a sacred place in his affectionate and 
broad spirit. When he visited Torrington in later years 
he would look into our pretty little cemetery, and spend 
a few minutes in visiting the graves of our fathers who 
admired and loved him. They were very loyal to him, and 
highly appreciated his unique ministry here. During its 
early part he preached from the venerable three-decker/ 
placed against the east wall and ascended by a considerable 
flight of steps. That pulpit provoked his constant protest, 
and one morning on descending it, he declared to a few of 
us, I cannot go on preaching on that elevated, isolated box. 
I must get down, closer to my hearers. We yielded, and 
the three-decker gave place to a slightly raised rostrum, and 
was brought nearer to the pews. Preacher and hearers 
alike rejoiced in the change. 

" J.B. was a great walker, as well I know, for on one 
bright, frosty winter day, shortly after he came amongst us, 
he prevailed on myself and a mutual friend to join him in a 
walk to a seaside resort, ten or eleven miles distant, with 
which there was no railway communication. J.B. s 
pleasant and inspiring talk made the walk a delight, but 
in spite of that lightening of the journey it was too much 
for myself. To him, however, that was a normal tramp, 
and he used to say that most of his sermons were composed 
on his rambles through Devon s lanes and hedgerows." 

That objection to the " three-decker " was 
" J.B." all over. He hated always to feel himself 
shut in and he longed for the human contact. 


J. Brierley 

The Journal shows that his favourite Minor 
Prophets still kept their hold on his affection, for a 
portion of the book is occupied with " Notes on the 
Minor Prophets." Words of the various books are 
transcribed in the Hebrew characters, and their 
meaning, and shades of meaning, are discussed. 
There is a definition of the prophet, which shows the 
young student s dislike of confining the " free 
spirit" of the prophet to any conventional, 
theological limitations : " If we also consider that 
the title of prophet is given not only to those we 
know as prophets, but to Moses and David, and also 
to Abraham, we shall see that the popular sense of the 
word is far too limited. The original term suggests a 
general definition a prophet, we may say, is he to 
whom a special Divine message or communication is 
given. This message is generally, primarily, a 
personal one, having reference to the Theocracy of 
the Jewish Church. The Theocracy is the visible 
type of the invisible government of God. Hence the 
frequency of prophetic addresses to the kings. Also 
the kings of Israel after separation of the tribes. If 
you ask for the principal object of these prophecies 
you find it is the maintenance and inviolability of the 
Law as a Divine institution, and therefore of the 
claims of God to the loyalty and obedience of 
the nation. Hence, the frequent denunciation, first, 
of idolatry : God is a jealous God. Won t allow 
Astarte, Moloch, etc. Hence frequent threats 
against violation of social laws." 

A record of letters written and received, in the 
same book, shows that he kept in close touch with his 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

parents, brothers and sister especially his sister. 
Against the date, September igth, is the entry, 
" Received from sister. Ordained." With that 
sister, who predeceased him only by a short time, he 
was always on the most affectionate terms. 

Returning to the Journal, it gives many details 
of his habits, his reading, his states of mind, his 
pastoral work, his preaching and speaking and 
preparation of sermons and addresses. It reveals a 
man of sincere and virile piety, regarding his work 
with a high seriousness, and determined to let no 
mental or physical indolence or corrigible short 
comings on his part lessen the effect of his ministry. 
When he did permit himself a day off, he thoroughly 
enjoyed the well-earned relaxation. Here is the 
Diary record of three days, March i6th, I7th and 
i8th, 1873 : 

Sunday 16. Rose little after 8. Day cold and snowy. 
Bad day for Brother Spear, whose farewell services to-day. 
Congregation thin for bad weather. Good time though. 

After evening service Miss came in. Long interview. 

Decided to join the Church. After prayer and supper read 
History of Philosophy one hour. Then to bed, 10.40. 

Monday 17. In fine trim for Monday. Wrote Father. 
Wrote out sketch of Sunday morning s sermon. Got 
together notes for speech for evening. Read History of Philo 
sophy one hour. After short walk dined at 1.30. Scammell 
came by 4.6 train. Went together to Spear s farewell tea 
meeting. Had an exceedingly interesting public meeting 
in the evening. Scammell stayed with us the night. Sat 
up late at music and talking. Bed 12.45. 

Tuesday 18. Breakfast 8.45. Music, some singing. 
Then walked with Scammell, saw Spear, all out together. 
Very pleasant walk. Home at 1.30. Afternoon at chess 


J. Brierley 

with Scammell left by 7.40 train. A holiday for both of us. 
Very well in a way, but would not do too often. Read Taylor 
in the evening. Prayers, supper and bed at n. 

It appears to have been a habit to " after break 
fast prepare sketch of day s work." The evening 
prayer is usually entered, and when he is in a happy 
mood he will sometimes wind up with a joyous 
paean from the Vulgate, of which he was very fond. 
Thus, on the day following those just recorded, 
when a good " tale of bricks " was rounded off by 
a " nice, earnest service," after which he " practised 
the children at hymns," he ends, " Lauda, anima 
mea, Dominum; laudabo Dominum in vita mea!" 

He has his bad days, when his head is " queer," and 
he is self-reproachful for neglecting work. The 
" queerness " is not surprising, for Brierley was 
always without temperance as a reader, and put the 
heaviest tax upon his nerves. At the close of a day 
when he felt so unwell that he " could do nothing 
till after ten " (a.m.), he winds up, " De profundis 
clamavi ad te, Domine. Domine, exaudi vocem 
meam ! " The next day was a Sunday, and the 
entry is : 

Made strong effort and got through my work very fairly. 
Preached morning and evening. Old subject in the evening. 
Did me good rather than harm. After evening service read 
Bunyan s " Jerusalem Sinner Saved." Struck with the 
power of the performance. Impressed me more with his 
mental powers than anything I ever read of his before. In 
te, Domine, speravi. 

At the end of a Monday entry, with an evening 
meeting " full of hope and good feeling," he bursts 
into prayer from the Vulgate " Et sit splendor 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

Domini Dei nostri super nos, et opera manuum 
nostrarum dirige super nos ; et opus manuum 
nostrarum dirige ! " 

The manse had its garden, and sometimes Brierley 
found physical exercise and relaxation from study 
there. Once on an April morning early, when " not 
up to hard work," he "took to gardening. Dug and 
delved from 8.45 till n. Went out and paid some 
calls. Bought garden seeds. Sowed mustard and 
cress. After dinner did a bed with radish. Visitors 
then. Got to sermon at 5. Baptism at 7.15. 
Service 7.30. After service, a Committee meeting. 
Finished day with grind at Sol Fa. Bed at n." 
Not bad for a day, when not "up to hard work ! " 
The " grind at Sol Fa " was in view of a Psalmody 
Class he had it in his mind to start. There is a 
humorous juxtaposition in an entry, " Read 
South, planted potatoes," that would have pleased 
that "most witty of English preachers." 

One April Friday in 1873 he concludes with the 
reproach, " A week rather disappointing ; no 
intense fixture on work. Replenish me, O Lord, with 
Thy grace, that I lose not the things I have gained." 
He wakes self-reproachful the next morning, for he 
writes, " In no great mood for work, I suppose, 
seeing I began with newspaper reading. Read 
Christian World and Christian Age. Then two of 
South s sermons." 

The book of Nature he was never tired of reading. 
Botany and geology were favourite studies, not only 
in books, but as an investigator of phenomena for 
himself. There are such entries as : 


J. Brierley 

Went with Lowater to Westward Ho. Very fine day. 
Discussed the rocks on the coast. L. thought they were 
granitic rocks breaking through the clay slate at a point 
below the pier. What he called granitic looked to me 
more like limestone. Picked several flowers by rocks which 
were strange to me. Brought them home to examine. 
After breakfast wrote my Diary and began my reading by 
looking up some things in Encyclopaedia. Reading con 
fined to geology. Looked up shales. 

Picked up some cuckoo flowers in the valley near the station. 
Examined the side of the stream. All the bank on the 
left is drift evidently. Should think the whole valley 
a river bed at one time. 

In May, 1873, he is restless and indisposed to work, 
but as the last entry in the following series shows, 
there was good reason : 

Thursday 15. Up very late. Too bad. They would per 
suade me. I am not in health. Would rather not err on 
the indulgence side. Looked into garden before breakfast. 

Friday 16. Spent day mainly in working up the vis 
viUe which had got to a low ebb. Must get the habit of doing 
my necessary work, sermons, &c., earlier in the week, 
then may do outside work as I have more strength. 

Saturday 17. Did comparatively little all evening. Had 
recuperated by that time and went forward well. 

Sunday 18. Rose at 8. Preached with some vigour in 
morning. Not much good in the evening. 

Monday 19. Should put this in red letters. At 8.30 
our baby boy was born. Could do nothing all day but 
potter about trying to realise this state of things. Parson, 
husband, father. Life will find it difficult to provide me 
with a new experience now. 

He is soon himself again, as witness entry : 
Wednesday 28. Rose 7.45. Prepared for marriage service. 
Haywood s wedding at 10.30. Attended breakfast and 
proposed bride and bridegroom. Back at 1.15. Sermonised 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

till dinner at 2.30. After dinner, garden, potatoes till 4. 
Sermon preparation till service time. After service singing 
class. Good day s work and well tired at end of it. 

The garden, he underlines next day, wants lot of 
looking after, and it gets it most days. 

It is good to note how appreciative he is of 
brother ministers. In connection with a Dissenters 
Club meeting there is a sermon. He notes : 

Sermon by Rennard. Enjoyed it much. Rennard man 
of an excellent spirit. Knows what prayer is. 

A Sunday entry concludes : 

Was unusually fresh for evening service. Must make 
that a great point to preserve freshness. 

There is a set-back the week following : 

Could do nothing at sermonising this week. Certainly 
I am not a machine yet. I must have not time merely, 
and mere intellectual force, but inspiration in order to do 
anything. Made many vain attempts but gave it up 
at last. Determined to reproduce something for Sunday. 
Had much walking. Not well on the whole, and the week 
as to actual work rather unprofitable. But I feel it better 
at times to knock off like this, as I come after a change of 
that sort with great vigour and elan to work afterwards. 
God forbid there should be any real and permanent declension 
of piety and zeal. I want nought but progress there. 

Sunday follows, and he notes : 

Mere playing at preaching both times. Expected not 
to do much and fulfilled the expectation. After evening 
service read some of Urqu hart s Life and some chapters 
in Matthew in Greek. Somehow a new view of Christ 
from reading Matthew in that way. I tried to exercise the 
historical imagination over it. What a stupendous character 
it was 1 


J. Brierley 

Within a black border there is, in 1874, the 
entry : 
December, Sunday 20. Father died. 

In the summer of 1875 he is much indisposed, and 
finds work the heaviest burden. On a day when he 
feels better, he notes : 

Vulgate, wrote Journal. Read little of Barrow. Some 
of Spurgeon. Did something at Sunday morning sermon. 
A sleepy and rather profitless morning. 

The day closes. " Seem gathering strength again. 
May it soon be in full tide and all given to God ! " 
July nth (Sunday), 1875, he "had good time in 
morning. Did not seem to get up steam so 
thoroughly in the evening. Lord s Supper at close. 
Thank God for the day. And could wish had more 
reaping for this sowing. Let us stick more deliber 
ately to this point, and have this as the object." 

One day he notes : 

New plan of beginning earlier to get Saturday s rest so far 
successful. Had voice practice after dinner. This, I am 
persuaded, will produce astounding effects in every way. 

Soon after he is convinced, on a Sunday, that the 
voice production exercises have improved his delivery. 
It is easy to detect " J.B." in the making in 1875 
entries : 

May, Sunday 23. Preached both times with little 
satisfaction to myself. Went to bed feeling as if God s 
ploughs and harrows had been over me. 

Monday 24. Read till dinner. Biographical notices of 
Keats, Hook (Theodore), George Fox. Read carefully 
number of Shakespeare s Sonnets. Much struck with their 
extraordinary depth and beauty. 


The Faithful Pastor: Devon 

A full day s work followed and the entry concludes: 

The dissatisfactions of the previous day were made up by 
the fruitfulness of this day. Thus I learn the uses and the 
value of sorrow. 

On the 25th he " read Montaigne till dinner." 
A June day s reading begins with Vulgate and 
Greek Testament, and then with " read Lillie s 
(Mrs. Brierley s) Journal of Fashions till tired and 
went to bed." A few days later it is, " read Lillie s 
book on Babies. Plenty of fun." On an " off day " 
" Read Tancred. Deeply interested. Gave me new 
view of Disraeli." 

On a July Tuesday of 1875, after " some weeding 
in garden," he had good " morning at Bible studies. 
Read in Latin, Greek and English. Began plan of 
studying a chapter more thoroughly, writing para 
phrase after to test knowledge." At this time, in 
his light reading, he is alternating Poe with Spurgeon. 
After a week-night service, he exclaims : " Had 
some power in prayer again, O that it may increase !" 
He suffers much from sleeplessness and is evidently 
questioning whether his health would not benefit 
by a change from Torrington. Then the 1875 
entries close : 

October to Xmas. An interval of unsettlement. Received 
invitation to preach at Leytonstone, London, E. First 
refused. Asked again and went. Result was request to 
preach two more Sundays and did so. An invitation followed, 
and after serious consideration was accepted. At same 
time was asked to preach at Newcastle, but thought it better 
at once to decline, as bad to be distracted between two 


J. Brierley 

The next entry is : 

1876. June, Sunday 9. This day closed my ministry 
of five years at Torrington. My first charge. In the place 
to which I brought my wife, where my two children were 
born, where I may say I began life. Much to be thank 
ful for there. No rupture to our harmony or charity ; many 
friendships made, which I think death only will sever. Work 
done and experience gained which lay a capital foundation 
for future efforts, and now in a new sphere my way opened 
up to, I think, extensive usefulness. May God help me to 
deep gratitude and to earnest endeavour to improve all 

Crowded congregation for closing service. Much feeling. 
Preached an hour and a quarter. 

So came to a close a pastorate that was a most 
important part of " J.B. s " education in life. 
Often he returned to his first love, and always 
with keen pleasure to meet his old friends, on 
whose mind and heart he had stamped indelible 
impressions. His was the true ministry of soul 
to souls. Preacher he was indeed, fresh, stimu 
lating, suggestive, striking home to the depths 
of the being of his hearers; but those who remain 
of the hearers testify that the breezy, cheery per 
sonality of the man, his combination of deep serious 
ness and light-hearted bonhomie, his intuitive 
sympathy and tact, his " good talk " on any and 
every subject, his catholic interest in people irres 
pective of social position and education, did 
more even than his pulpit messages to make his 
ministry a success. Scores of souls " made better 
by his presence " never ceased to " call him 
blessed," and some remain unto this day. 


The Faithful Pastor: North London 

THE Leytonstone of 1876 was not the congested 
area it has since become. It lies low, some seven 
miles north of the Thames, between the River Lea 
and Epping Forest. It was a fairly substantial 
middle-class district then, and Nonconformity, as in 
all outer North London, " ruled the roost." 
Between Mr. Brierley and his people, during his 
four years ministry, there was warm and un 
clouded friendship, and when ill-health compelled the 
wrench of separation, there was sincerest regret on 
both sides. He went to a temporary iron church. 
He set to work to get built a permanent church, 
to seat 850. This, which cost 10,000, was opened 
in 1878. Though his ministry ended two years 
later, Mr. Brierley saw the church largely paid for, 
with a large and growing congregation, which ensured 
its future success. 

The Journal during the Leytonstone period is not 
kept with anything like the same regularity as at 
Torrington. There were various reasons for this. 
The charge of a London church in such a district, to 
a pastor of his type, meant a constant pressure of 
engagements. Then, living in the London area, 
with his keen interest in men, movements and things, 
Mr. Brierley had many irresistible and quite legiti- 


J. Brierley 

mate distractions. It was soon discovered that the 
Leytonstone minister was an exceedingly attractive 
personality, and a preacher and speaker with a large 
store of matter, and with a gift for expressing original 
thought in a way that captivated his audiences. 
He was not the kind of man to shut himself up 
hermetically within his local sphere. He took a 
strong interest in denominational and Free Church 
affairs, and soon began to be in demand as a special 
occasion man. There was enough and to spare, 
anyway, in his own church for a man of much stronger 
physique than Mr. Brierley s. He had not been three 
months at Leytonstone before he started a prayer 
meeting for the young folks, and a Ladies Bible 
Class, which he inaugurated with a sketch of the 
literary history of the Bible. He says that he 
" means to give them some general information on the 
Bible as a whole, and then to settle down on the Acts 
of the Apostles." There is a Young Men s Society, 
at which he gives his lecture on Whitefield and 
Wesley. There is " Capital attendance. Got 
money enough to clear off debt on society and to 
leave good balance in hand." He is in very good 
spirits, and after this entry on April 5th, he notes : 

Am much improved in health by the change from Devon 
to Essex. Air of Devon evidently my foe. With better 
health let us hope I shall do better. Not been able to take 
up definite plan of life and study yet, through our unsettled 
domestic condition, house being in utter disorder since we 
came in. Papering, cleaning, new furniture, getting in 
carpenters, jobbers about of all sorts. Have had to do 
my thinking anyhow. Making some approach now to civil 
ised conditions. Hope shall enjoy when reached. 


The Faithful Pastor: North London 

After his recognition he remarks, " Glad it s all 
over. Have been recognised enough now for the 
next ninety years." He feels some compunction at 
yielding to the delights of life in London. He says : 

April 20. Read paper, wrote four letters, occupied 
remaining time till dinner sketching out plan for future. 
Have been going back in habits, I fear, a little lately ; must 
get myself to the level or how can I expect to help others 
up ? After dinner a round of visiting. More of same after 
tea. Finished with reading N. Macleod s life. He gets 
better as he goes on. The difference between him and 
McCheyne. There is a peculiar spiritual temperament of which 
the latter is a striking illustration, which no mere earnest 
ness can secure. A gift of God, none so precious. 

The next day he notes : 

Fair day on the whole. Am yet much behind in visitation, 
not nearly round my parish. More than ever convinced 
of importance of house to house work. Can do genuine 
good so and no ostentation. 

A Sunday entry concludes : 

People very attentive, but not sure whether what I gave 
calculated for the highest results. This I must always aim 
at, and be satisfied with nothing else. 

On a day when there were guests in the house he 
enters : 

Not much work to be done when visitors in the house, 
feel uneasy when not hard at it. Still my duty to attend to 

A new chapel scheme is inaugurated. He 
arranges for a public meeting, and remarks, " Must 
go to this with all my heart. Work while it is day." 


J. Brierley 

In May, 1876, he goes to the Liberation Society s 
evening meeting, and notes : 

Fine speech from Chamberlain, of Birmingham. Same 
from Landels ; sad failure on part of Dr. . Got off the 

rails somehow and fairly broke down. Intensely painful. 
Spoilt meeting. 

Unfortunately his old trouble of sleepless nights 
recurs. He is often put off work and blames himself. 
Thus, a day after the Liberation Society s meeting : 

After breakfast, finished Macleod s life. Truly a noble 
man. Speaks continually of his waste of time, desultori- 
ness, but how much worse am I ? He was at it often from 
6 a.m. till 10 p.m. Early rising. Hour for devotion to begin 
with. Was no great scholar, but did good work without. 
Comfort for me. His assiduous visitation when a young 
minister to note. Felt what I feel, ministerial usefulness 
needs basis of personal friendship which is to be got by 
visitation. If your work is to have a pure and elevating 
character you must have such a character yourself, and you 
must be continually bringing that into contact with the lives 
of the people. 

Here is an entry a little later : " Must as much as 
possible make myself a Sunday School man. Vast 
importance of this work. After a May Meeting week 
he writes : 

Had week of dissipation at May Meetings, etc. Found 
the meetings very pleasant though the excitement takes a 
good deal out of one. As to work nil. Would not do to 
have many weeks of this sort, if progress is to be made either 
in work or character. 

After a dinner of old and present New College 
men he writes : 


The Faithful Pastor: North London 

A little tame. One seems to have grown away from the 
interests of College life now. The wider sea one has launched 
on makes this seem a tame mill-pond in comparison. 

On a Monday following a bad week he writes : 

Right in health once again. Begin a week which I trust 
will be more successful in every way than the last. Ill 
health puts me out in every way, intellectually and spirit 
ually. Don t know how it may be with others 

Read hard for Bible Class. Had good attendance. Good 
prayer meeting after which helped to screw me up again. 

A Wednesday entry concludes : 

Preached with much comfort. No reason why week-night 
services should not be a thorough success. Determined 
to try and make them such. 

The following Sunday it is : 

Bad night through thorough wakefulness. Got up tired, 

but the entry ends : 

Crowd at chapel in evening. Great freedom in speaking. 
Very tired. 

Thursday, July 25th, 1876, he is in self-reproachful 
mood : 

In morning worked at Hebrew. Mean getting up lost 
ground here. Going through the Scripture without com 
mentary. This style of regular reading conquers sloth, 
conquers list lessness. I am weak as water. God help me! 

A little later a day concludes on a brighter note : 
" Thank God for work to do and strength to do it," 
and the next day it is : 

A not wasted day, glad to say. Got once more at visita 
tion, despite struggle of inclination. Let me ever plunge 


J. Brierley 

boldly at work I do not like. The work I do like can take 
care of itself. 


Saturday, 3, to Sunday 4 August, 1876. James Preston, 
Junr., up from Leicester. Taken off my work for the time. 
Showed him sights of London. Is really a sacrifice to me 
to go pleasuring. Am glad it is so and that I feel my true 
pleasure in my work. 

There is a gap of two months, and then " J.B." 
severely lectures himself : 

Long interval from last entry. How is that ? Answer : 
J.B. s knack of every now and again letting his habits 
take care of themselves. Said J.B. finds it easy to get on 
inclined plane and slide down a piece, but climbing back 
again, there s the rub, sed revocare gradum, hie labor est \ 
Interesting speculation : He has put pen to paper again, 
how long will this spurt continue ? What has he been doing 
in the interval ? Answer : Preaching Sundays and Wed 
nesdays, having Bible classes, attending meetings, writing 
many letters, reading some books and a good many, too 
many, newspapers. Has not visited much. That depart 
ment has been terribly neglected. Not much private 
devotion. Inner life subject of many strong yearnings, 
but not of much regular discipline. Done some Hebrew, but 
scarcely any other regular study. Has not been careful 
to redeem the time. God help him ! 

The ill health became more pronounced, and 
entries in the Journal are few and brief. The last 
relating to Leytonstone is Sunday, October 28th, 
1877, when he preached three " special sermons " 
and " felt strong and well in it all." In the late 
summer of 1878 he felt so unwell that he got a 
month s leave of absence. After unwisely preaching 
at Edinburgh he had such a collapse as alarmed him, 



The Faithful Pastor: North London 

and found two months rest would be needful, which 
lengthened to three. A note sandwiched in the 
sermon record states : " Absent in Scotland, in the 
Mediterranean, Black Sea, the Danube, and the 
8ta(3o\o<s knows where else." A letter on his 
adventures in the Bosphorus and the Black Sea will 
be found in a later chapter. 

A note at the end of his record of sermons preached 
at Leytonstone, end of January, 1880, says : 

"Phil. i. 12, "The things which happened unto me." 
Closed my ministry at Leytonstone. Four years of service, 
broken and at last ended by ill health, but of much joy, 
appreciation and prosperity. 

One of his Leytonstone friends, Mr. J. Skelt, still 
a deacon, says the fame of Mr. Brierley s preaching 
brought people to the church from a very wide 
district, and no preacher in North-East London at 
that time had a higher reputation. Mr. Brierley 
in those days was fond of horse-riding, and he much 
relished jog-trots along the Epping Forest roads and 
parks on a grey mare lent him by a deacon. He 
was succeeded by Rev. Colmer B. Symes, B.A., and 
the church has had unbroken prosperity right 
down to the time of its present minister, Rev. H. 
Lemon, B.A. 


The Faithful Pastor: South London 

TILL September Mr. Brierley was resting and slowly 
struggling back to some measure of health. There 
is a record of six " Occasional Discourses " delivered 
in that month. He accepted a temporary co- 
pastorate at Trinity Church, Croydon, and preached 
there once each Sunday from the first Sunday 
of January, 1881, till the middle of 1882. He 
revisited and preached at his old churches. On 
May 7th and 28th he preached to the newly-formed 
church meeting in a Lecture Hall at Balham. This 
led to a call to the Balham pastorate, which he 
accepted. Croydon was on the fringe of South 
London and no doubt the Balham leaders had heard 
of the quality of the preaching at Croydon, and 
gone over to " sample " it. 

Balham the church is really in the Balham High 
Road, Upper Tooting was then a new suburb, cover 
ing part of what, not very long before, had been fields 
and woods, along the high road to Epsom, and thence 
to Brighton, with nothing between the west end of 
Clapham Common and Wimbledon but the ancient 
village of Tooting, reputed to have been for a while 
the home of Daniel Defoe. South London was 
eating up mile after mile of the country, the specu- 


The Faithful Pastor: South London 

lative builder was covering the area between Tooting 
and Wandsworth Common with " roads " of villas, 
letting, on the Upper Tooting side, at from 40 to 
100 a year, and on the Balham side at from 30 to 
40, with " streets " for the working classes. There 
were no traditions, and the population migrating 
into the district was of an " exclusive " character. 
Upper Tooting was distinctly gilt-edged ; Balham 
was less "select 1 and its residential population 
was largely of the superior wage-earning class 
clerks, teachers and the like. The new Congrega 
tional Lecture Hall was strategically placed to draw 
alike from Upper Tooting and Balham. The first 
members included some enthusiastic, very loyal 
and substantial people, with whom Mr. Brierley 
found it easy and pleasant to work. A number 
of them were men of great influence in the business 
world of West London, and the church has always 
attracted an unusual proportion of highly educated 
men and women. 

The people were responsive to Mr. Brierley s 
stimulating, broad-minded, original preaching, and 
backed him generously in the building scheme 
for a new Church, which was soon raised. The 
ground is high, and surrounded by a belt of commons, 
nearly seven miles south of the river ; the neigh 
bourhood is healthy and for a couple of years or so 
he felt in good condition. Perhaps, after his 
manner, he yielded to the temptation to overdo it, 
for at the end of the 1883 record of sermons, he 
notes triumphantly, " Preached twice fifty-one 
Sundays out of fifty-two this year of grace." He 


J. Brierley 

took his holiday of three weeks, in January, 1884, 
at Ventnor. 

That new Church did not prove an unmixed 
blessing. It was built in the " Nonconformist 
Gothic " style, and as every subsequent minister 
has found out to his cost, the one thing that was 
not provided for was good hearing. The acoustics 
were as bad as they could be, necessitating a constant 
strain on the preacher s voice and nerves, and even 
then there was the consciousness that the sound 
waves were scattered, and that the greater part of 
the congregation not immediately in the direct 
line of their travel were straining themselves to catch 
uncomfortably bits of broken sentences. Mr. 
Brierley attributed to the acoustics the wearing 
down that led to his final collapse as a pastor. As 
will be seen in a later chapter, the iron of the 
villainous acoustics entered into his soul, and he 
liberated his soul very freely on the subject in the 
first article contributed to The Christian World. 

The Balham ministry was soon interrupted by 
a breakdown. He notes, under 1885 : 

April to September. Went through illness in Wales and 
Bournemouth. Much kindness of people. 

There is no further entry till July, 1886, when 
there is one of the most serious : 

July, Tuesday 13. Have been glancing over the records of 
the past. Curious sensation doing so. Are records of 
hard work which I did not think much of at the time. 
Records of three services often a day, done with compara 
tive ease, and now my power is limited to one on the Sunday, 
and with that I need assistance. And what then ? A good 

6 4 

The Faithful Pastor: South London 

soldier gets wounded and takes it as a matter of course. 
Tommy Atkins for is. 2d. a day. But I am in the service 
of Jesus Christ. The wounds are honourable. Now I must 
serve Him by some other ways. I have been stirred up 
to see if I cannot do something more than I have ever 
done by conversation with persons about Him, to stir 
up His friends to greater zeal and directly attack those 
who have not yielded to Him. Oh, that I may be 
strengthened and sustained in this ! I want to keep and 
record here specially of this form of work, to note processes 
and results, on myself and others. Lord, help me. For I 
have no strength in myself. Help me to commit all my 
way to Thee ! 

That day, after long search for a Sunday subject, 
he does a round of visitations, and notes : 

Thought occurred while visiting. Why should there be 
characters of my type in the world ? Why not all go in for 
money-making, etc. ? Answer : Because the world in the 
present stage needs the lost sheep looking up. When all 
looked up the Evangelist Church not needed. God sends 
to the world what is needed. Was enabled to speak to 
some Christian friends about witnessing for Christ. Have 
not, as yet, however, directly tackled any outsider with 
the great theme. Shall not believe in myself till I have 
done that. -Lord help me ! Wrote Professor Elmslie. 
Began paper, " Duty of Citizens to the State." 

The next day he says : 

What a mercy I am able to do some things still ! Can read 
and think, and talk. All these are methods and possibilities 
of work for the Master. Doctor says I am to keep within 
my tether. How to find its length ? 

The doctor s wisdom is shown by the note the 
day following, " Very weak and dizzy after previous 


J. Brierley 

day s study." As it " seemed could get no 
further study," he walked out, but is incorrigible. 

Behold the good effects of an hour in the open ! Got back 
ready for study work, which was able to pursue during the 
rest of the day. . . . Some fervent aspirations this day 
for personal growth, and the prosperity of the Church. Oh, 
let me be enabled to kindle them to a flame in other hearts 
in the Church ! 

Sunday, July 18. A rather restless night. At present 
moment (morning) not realised much of Sabbath rest in 
the soul. Am looking forward to meet my Lord, in the 
work for Him. O, gracious Lord, show to me the love 
which casteth out fear to-day ! (After service.) Got on 
without much physical discomfort or exhaustion, but 
not with that complete liberty and power of spirit which 
I desire. Believe I was hampered by my having written 
so much, and by remembering what I had written. Went 
to school in afternoon and said a few words. Praying 
for more work and the power to do it. I must use 
my small talent and put it out to usury in the Lord s 
service. Make every day very fruitful for Him. Then, 
whether they be long or short, they will witness. Oh, how 
have I wasted my years and opportunities of late by 
neglecting to cultivate my spirit ! God forgive me, and 
preserve me for His sake from ever falling back again. 

He reads Baxter s Reformed Pastor " a tonic 
for time and eternity, which I hope greatly to profit 
by." A " Monday off " is devoted to hearing 
Dr. Parker lecture at Exeter Hall in the morning, 
and a game of chess in the afternoon, but there is 
a feeling of uneasiness " A day full of pleasant 
things. What of my work ? Don t let this week 
glide past without some stroke struck for your Lord 
Jesus. Reverence your calling, minister of Christ, 
ambassador to souls ! " 


The Faithful Pastor: South London 

A certain notorious case in the Law Courts in 
1886, which flooded the papers with unsavoury 
details, greatly distressed him. He was to preach 
at Croydon on a week-night. He says : 

A long walk to the church of nearly a mile somewhat 
upset me, and just before service I wondered what kind of 
appearance I was about to make. It seemed as though there 
was absolutely nothing left in my mind of either thought 
or feeling. These fears, however, are not to be our guides. 
When in the pulpit I had the greatest liberty, though faint 
with physical weakness. Preached on " The Spiritual 
Harvest in England." Message seemed one to me needed, 
and therefore I gave it. Had wondered how it would be 
received, perhaps very indifferently, for it is quite the 
opposite line to that in which the English people are turned 
just now. Is there room for any Christianity among them, 
I wonder ? Perhaps it will grow by and bye. I may be 
all wrong in my diagnosis. Hope I am. 

Next day : 

Tired, very. Day s hard work before me. Trust strength 
will come as needed. Above all, Lord Jesus, be Thou with 
me, and just take all my life into Thy hands this day. 

He found himself too brain weary for book work, 
and visited a boy in the last stage of consumption, 
and did his best to comfort the mother. He con 
cludes " The interview seemed an opening by Christ 
my Master to the kind of work for which I have 
been longing. Let me steadily follow this up ! " 
When his vacation comes he writes : 

Holiday begun. I want to spend it well. No relaxation 
of spiritual vigilance, or growth of character. Am to use 
it for physical improvement, but also spiritual. Refreshment 
for my great work in all its parts. Let me remember this ! 
After prayer, breakfast, and then a thorough good turn in 


J. Brierley 

the garden. Oh the weeds ! Read letter from Mr. 

about W. , and F. . Great joy at hearing of this 

open decision. Let nothing go backward. God calls us 

The holiday began at Cliff House, Rowsley. 
Passing through Leicester he is moved to tears, 
and writes : " As I came to the old town could 
not help a deep sense of gladness my birthplace, 
seat of my father s sepulchre, where my kindred 
dwell. Can I forget thee ? " The day after arrival 
is wet, but in the afternoon he plays chess and 
records : " Played four games, won two, and lost 
two. How I love chess, yet how poor a player I am ! 
Brain seems bewildered." He has good talk with 
Dr. Grattan Guinness, whose astronomical and 
geological knowledge he greatly admires, and has 
" good crack with Tutor Rattray. Rare old Scotch 
man," with whom he discusses Sayce s " Baby 
lonian Inscriptions," and " thanks God for this 
day." There is a Tent Mission, and he cannot keep 
out of it. 

I worked in the after meetings and got one young woman 
to decide for Christ. Oh ! my God, help her ! Heard she 
had been a very troublesome girl in the village. Blessed 
work bringing souls to Christ. May this be the beginning 
of much more work of the same kind. 

A week by himself at Rowsley is followed by the 
spending of the remainder of the holiday at Dover 
with his wife and children. After a family evening 
at chess, with a drawn game, he gives himself the 
warning : " In playing must avoid any ostentations 
of strength and be always ready to accept defeat, 


The Faithful Pastor: South London 

if it comes, with cheerful grace, otherwise a bad 
thing." Three excursions to Ostend are squeezed 
into the holiday, for the sake of the sea. 

Work was resumed, but health became more and 
more precarious. On Sunday, September 12, he 
notes : 

Some fear and trembling in view of service. Had, however, 
a most valuable thought which I must keep as a treasure. 
It was to look at the feeling of nervousness as something 
which God knows all about, in which God was, and which 
therefore had some Divine purpose of good. I at once 
from that thought rose above the wall of nervousness and 
looked right over it, and felt at rest. In the service itself 
was much helped. Parts of my topic which in preparation 
were unsatisfactory straightened out, as I came to them 
in speaking, and so what I said was better than what I had 
thought. Remember how in other ways the future when 
it is come up to is so often better than our thought about it. 
God adds something of His own to that future which we had 
not calculated on. 

Health breaks down completely, and in March, 
1887, there is the closing entry : 

Balham ministry closed through ill health. Built a Church, 
filled it. Left everything in prosperous condition, thank 
God, and with unbroken friendship and esteem. 

Under the successive ministries of Professor 
Elmslie who served during an " interregnum " 
Rev. E. Griffith- Jones, B.A. (now Principal 
Griffith-Jones, D.D., of Yorkshire United College), 
and Rev. H. H. Carlisle, M.A., the Balham Church, 
somewhat improved in its acoustics by ingenious 
devices and the building of a gallery, has shown 
that its spiritual foundations, at any rate, were 
" well and truly laid." 


" Apart and Resting Awhile " 

WHEN, at the age of forty-three, Jonathan Brierley s 
Balham pastorate was broken, it might well have 
seemed to himself that his public work was ended. 
But he was not the type that gives up hope while 
there is life. His dauntless soul kept the flag flying 
however damaged might be the ship that carried it. 
He was a Christian who believed in prayer, and 
prayer to him always had a calming and healing 
effect on his shattered nerves. With his young 
family he settled at Neuchatel, on the north shore 
of the lake to which the town gives its name. 
Neuchatel, 1,433 feet above sea level, and lying 
well above the lake, is the capital of the Canton. 
It has a population of 25,000. The streets rise 
in terraces, and the outlook ranges from the High 
Alps of the Bernese Oberland to the east, to the 
huge white mountain bastions of the Mont Blanc 
range away beyond the Lake of Geneva to the south. 
Mr. Brierley always loved the mountains, and his 
sensitive soul drank in their inspiration. In one of 
his early Christian World articles, he tells how, 
on a mountain climb, with companions, he came 
to a point of view where the majesty of the scenery 
so overwhelmed him that he felt for a short while 


"Apart and Resting Awhile 

he must be alone with his thoughts, and, finding 
the opportunity, he let the influence of the moun 
tains sink into him. 

The rest, the air, the glory of the lake, the moun 
tains and the sky, gradually restored him to some 
measure of strength, though his nerves were never 
again to be equal to any sustained strain. He 
walked much, when equal to it his favourite 
exercise, and also his favourite method of mental 
stimulation. He had taken with him, of course, 
ample provision of books, for how could he live 
without reading ? And when he found himself 
able to read with some system, great was his joy. 
There was a very good library in the town. " J.B.," 
of course, made friends with the librarian, and 
had the freedom of the library. He greatly widened 
the range of his reading, and studied seriously along 
certain special lines. He was never a student 
of the Mr. Casaubon type, continually taking in 
stock and going to do marvellous things some day, 
but bowed down by the weight of his intellectual 
accumulations and paralysed by his eagerness to 
add to them. He was seized by that zest for human 
ity, that humani nihil a me alienum puto, that 
passion for service, that almost miraculous touch 
with the life and thought of the age and intuitive 
understanding of men and movements, that were 
a perpetual wonder to all who knew and read 

Many blank pages of the inseparable Journal were 
fill d with notes on his reading at this time. There 
is Reuss on the Pentateuch. He analyses the philo- 

J. Brierley 

sophy of Rothe. It is interesting to note this 
on "J.B. s" favourite subject of personality: 

Rothe holds that till we have attained spirituality we 
are perishing. Distinguishes between soul and personality. 
Intelligence and will are instruments of personality. Per 
sonality is built up of acts of intelligence and will. We have 
a soul, but are not the soul. Beasts have a soul. Person 
ality is a thing which uses the soul and body. Out of the 
activity of will and intelligence, therefore, something entirely 
new, i.e., the personality, has come into being, the highest 
thing yet. 

Rousseau s " Du Contrat Social " is subjected 
to similar analysis. After a spell of Godet s 
" Introduction to Luke/ he turns to the Greek 
poets Hesiod, whose " Theogony " he analyses, 
the Orphic Hymns, Theocritus, Bion, Anacreon. 
Then he reads Scherer on Goethe. Some 
thing diverted his attention to art, and there are 
many pages of notes on A. Michel s " History 
of Flemish and Dutch Painting." Monostier s 
" History of the Vaudois Churches " evidently 
vastly interested him. This is an interlude in 
his art studies, which are resumed with Coindet s 
" History of Art in Italy." The Greek Traged 
ians ^Eschylus and Sophocles are relieved by 
Ritschl and Augustine. Then he takes a turn 
at French religious preachers and writers Lamen- 
nais, Amiel, Edgar Quinet. He is thrown forward 
to Ibsen, and gives short analyses of Ghosts," 
" The Wild Duck," and " Hedda Gabler." It is 
almost with a shock that we find him returning 
to such a study as Duff s Ecclesiastical History. 


" Apart and Resting Awhile" 

A series of bits from Browning that he had marked 
closes the Journal s record of his systematic 

There is a recollection of the Neuchatel period 
by Dr. Evans Darby, who called on his old College 

" We met at Neuchatel during his residence, and again 
I carry with me the sacred memory of a happy evening, and 
pleasant intercourse. It was in 1890, at the beginning of my 
Continental visits, and I had made a tour to Grenoble, 
Geneva, Montreux, and Berne, arranging, on my way back, 
to leave by an earlier train, and pay a surprise visit to my 
old friend. He gladly gave up the evening to me, took me 
for a charming walk on the heights above the city, from 
which I had the finest view of the Alps I have ever seen 
Mount Pilatus on the distant left to Mont Blanc towering 
above all on the right. He was a delightful guide, pointing 
out peak after peak, and chatting in his inimitable way 
about his personal experiences in mountain climbing. Then, 
too, I heard of the offer made to him by The Christian World, 
and that he was probably soon returning to London." 

When he began to " feel his feet " again, the 
creative instinct was strong, and it was quickened 
by the necessity of finding some solution of the 
problem of his future. He preached sometimes 
at Neuchatel, but then, as always, preaching took 
so much out of him that it was extremely doubt 
ful if he would ever be able to resume the active 
work of a preacher. The idea of using his pen 
instead of his tongue was bound to suggest itself. 
He began to set in order his thoughts on various 
courses of reading he had pursued, and wrote essays 
on " Augustine in Literature," " Ignatius Loyola," 


J. Brierley 

" Modern Realism," "Fourier and his Phalanstery/ 
and " appreciations " of a number of writers who 
had treated the religion of their age in a very free 
spirit, from Lucian to Voltaire. Some of his MSS. 
were sent to two or more editors before getting 
accepted, and some were not accepted at all, but 
Brierley was as difficult to sink as a cork. He 
tried his hand even at the short story, but a specimen 
remaining among his papers shows, what might 
have been expected, that he had not acquired the 
lightness of touch and the appearance of spon 
taneity essential for success in the field of fiction. 
Here, perhaps, is the right place to mention that 
now and again he was moved to write verse, and 
a curious fact emerges. He had a fine taste in 
poetry, as his note-books, with the quotations from 
poets he was reading, show. But in his own verse 
there is often jolting rhythm and questionable 
rhymes. The poet is born, not made, and " J.B." 
was born to wear the mantle of the prophet and not 
the laurel crown of the poet. 

Bibliophile though he was, "J.B." read always 
with the definite object of fertilising his mind, 
and enabling it to grow richer crops of creative 
work. In one of his Essays, on " Method in Brain 
Work," speaking undoubtedly from his own ex 
perience, he says : 

" The main point to remember is that mental 
work is a species of agriculture, and that here, as 
in actual farming, the secret of success lies in a 
good system of rotation of crops. The farmer 
knows that if he goes on raising barley from the 


"Apart and Resting Awhile" 

same field for a succession of years, the crop will 
constantly degenerate, and the soil be impover 
ished. By varying the crop a fresh set of elements 
in the soil is drawn upon, and so the process of 
exhaustion is retarded. But rotation of itself 
is not enough. The elements that have to be taken 
out of the land will have to be replaced. And 
in addition, the ground at times will require a period 
of rest. It must lie fallow. 

" Precisely the same obtains in mental production. 
Every student, for instance, knows the relief obtained 
by varying the tasks. Wearied with mathe 
matical problems, the mind will feel a revival of 
vigour in turning, say, to the study of history. 
But there is another thing which is not so clearly 
seen. In each day the moment comes, with some 
earlier, with others later, when the brain can no longer, 
with any advantage, continue to absorb facts and 
ideas. To toil on then, as so many do, in the 
same line of effort, is a grave blunder. What the 
mind picks up in its weariness from such toil it will 
not retain. And serious risks to its own soundness 
are being run. But the rest it is now calling for 
need not be inaction. What is wanted is simply 
totally to reverse the mental process. Instead of 
continuing to receive and absorb, let the student, 
throwing his books aside, set in motion his crea 
tive faculties. It will be a positive and delicious 
rest now to let the mind dream its way along some 
line of its own, to sketch a character, to project an 
article, to lay the foundations of a sermon. The 
experience here is as when one takes a relay of fresh 


J. Brierley 

horses on a long journey. It is only one side of the 
brain that is tired. Another set of faculties, those 
of imagination, of suggestion, of invention, have 
been all the time resting, and are now at our bidding, 
ready to spring forward, like high mettled coursers, 
eager for the race." 

The idea of inactivity at any age was simply 
painful to " J.B." In an essay in June, 1891, 
" On Retiring from Business," he urges that a 
successful man should not defer his retirement 
till he is worn out, but should, while still capable 
of work, divert his mental activities into other 
channels, and so bring into play faculties that, 
during the business career, had little chance of 
development. The man who does not want to 
make a failure of his closing years should ask him 
self, " Have I some object in life, apart from the 
money-making which I am now renouncing, capable 
of possessing my mind and soul, and of filling each 
day with ennobling interest and occupation ? " 
He knows how the ordinary middle-aged pros 
perous bourgeois will look askance at the 
idea of starting his real intellectual education at 
fifty or thereabouts, but why not ? " Suggest to 
him that there are worlds of thought and know 
ledge which up to the present have been closed 
to him, and the entry upon which will double the 
range of his consciousness. Ask him, for instance, 
to open acquaintance with the great continental 
languages and literatures, and so to discover what 
other first-class peoples, outside the English circle, 
are saying and thinking, and he will ask himself to 


Apart and Resting Awhile" 

what madman he is talking. Put himself to school 
at his age ? Begin to learn languages at fifty ? 
Preposterous. It is not so preposterous at all. 
Let our bourgeois bring to this occupation the 
methods and qualities which made of him a pros 
perous business man ; let him bestow on it the 
same attention, regularity and care of detail, and 
success will be certain and the rewards great. He 
will find himself upon a path which slopes steadily 
upward, where at every step of the ascent the pros 
pect widens beneath his feet, and where his spirit 
as it takes in the invigorating breaths of this upper 
air is filled with the intoxicating sense of a new life." 
His sense of the necessity of getting the most 
possible out of all available time is thus expressed : 

" Those who want to make most of their time will think 
of it as capital, and will use it as such. Whatever else we 
have lacked we have had this, and it is much. When this 
year is completed we shall have had just as much of it as 
a Rothschild or a Rockefeller. We have all been million 
aires of minutes. And here, as with the capital we call cash, 
there are two ways of dealing with it, the way of thriftless 
spending, and the way of productive use. There is no more 
searching question than this : What have we done with 
our hours ? There are dozens of ways of spending them, 
the only return for which is a sense of exhaustion, of mere 
wastage, and of desolating vacuity. There is no poverty 
so squalid as that of the time-spendthrift. The poverty 
here is of body and soul. In honest labour, on the contrary, 
you have not only the present joy it offers ; but the fact that 
it is an investment which, for all the future, brings in its 
dividends. To learn to do things is to strengthen our life, 
to broaden in all directions its acreage of possibility. We 
ought to abolish the idler, whether at the top or the bottom 


J. Brierley 

of the social scale, in order to give the poor fellow a taste 
of life s real flavour. The best training we know of, a train 
ing which should become universal, is that of some of the 
American popular Universities, where the students earn 
their bread by daily hours of manual labour in the fields, 
the gardens, the carpenter s shop with certain other daily 
hours for the mental culture. To get that training should 
be every man s birthright, and every woman s. A robust 
physical vigour put into the brain s work ; a well-stored 
brain directing the body s work here is your combination 
for a full and wholesome life." 

This chapter cannot be better concluded than 
with the summing up, from his experience, of the 
chief end of life and the noblest privilege of man : 

" Some of us, who have fared far in the journey of life, 
who have busied ourselves with its varied cultures, who 
have tested its chief experiences and appraised their values, 
have come as a result to one assured conviction. Christ 
is the heart of the mystery, the key to it all. And Life s 
best business, in the Church or out of it, is to work in this 
heady, tempestuous civilisation of ours for the restoring of that 
line, now so largely left out, the line of the Christ character, 
the Christ life ; to work for that, knowing it is the world s 
only health, its true sanity. And how shall we do that ? 
How else than by having the lines of that glorious portraiture 
all produced and showing in ourselves ? For so essentially 
divine is that portraiture, that wherever, and however feebly, 
men see it reflected in their neighbour, they see in it some 
hint of the heart of God." 


The Evolution of "J.B." 

IT was as " A Congregational Minister " that 
" J.B." tried his prentice hand in The Christian 
World with a series of papers on " Questions for 
Free Churches." The first appeared in the last 
number of 1887. The subject was " A Good 
Building," and there was passion in the denunciation 
of architects who built churches without regard 
to acoustics. There was only too good reason for 
the feeling. He said : " Mr. Beecher once said, 
with reference to a large and costly church in New 
York, that its minister spent half his life force in 
endeavouring to overcome the physical obstacles 
to his influence, which that building, with its bad 
arrangements and bad acoustics, presented. It may 
be said, with little exaggeration, of half the church 
buildings erected in recent years in this country. A 
holocaust of bishops has been suggested as the only 
effective means of waking up railway authorities to 
take preventive measures against accidents. With 
out expressing an opinion on that subject, we will say 
with emphasis that something desperate will have to 
be done before long with church architects. We 
do not ask for their blood. Our vengeance would be 
satiated by seeing some of them condemned to 


J. Brierley 

preach for a term of years in the structures they have 
planned. Can anything be more galling to an able 
and earnest preacher than to know that Sunday by 
Sunday his words, prepared with such care and 
delivered with such passionate energy, are reaching 
only a part of his congregation, while others are 
straining to catch something intelligible out of a 
babel of echoes, which twist and toss the words into 
all manner of grotesque distortions ? Eight or 
ten thousand pounds of hardly got money have 
been spent in securing a result like this ! Had as 
many hundreds been used in putting up four square 
walls and a flat roof, the speaker would, at least, 
have had scope for the proper work of his ministry 
and the putting forth of all that was in him. But 
his architect has finished him ; and having accom 
plished the feat and pocketed his commission, 
goes on his way rejoicing, in search of the next 

That article, exactly a column in length, whetted 
the appetite for what was to follow, and the suc 
ceeding articles made it very clear that the " Con 
gregational Minister " was an original and powerful 
voice. There was an unerring instinct for the 
practical, for the things that matter, a swift brush 
ing aside of the cobwebs of convention and a rubbing 
off of the mould and dust that had settled on the 
forms of public worship and the methods of the 
pulpit. The forthright style, the touches of 
humour, the logic and lucidity, the insistence on the 
principle that Churches and ministries exist for the 
people and not the people for Churches and min- 


The Evolution of "J.B." 

istries, the equal insistence on the fact that the 
thing that tells is consecrated personality and not 
office, the prophetic spirit and not the echoing 
of consecrated formulae and phrases these things 
in the series of articles made them looked for with 
cumulative eagerness, and excited curiosity as to 
the identity of the author. 

In the second article Mr. Brierley "went for" the 
shutting up of the congregation to the ministry of 
one man, to whose limitations of outlook and interest 
they were perforce confined, and of whom, good 
though he might be, they would sooner or later 
get sated. He spoke of the complexity of modern 
life, the multiplication of its interests, the dis 
satisfaction of the modern man with monotony even 
in his amusements, his craving for variety and 
enlargement of experience. We must, he said, 
accommodate ourselves in things religious, as 
elsewhere, to the new conditions. Those conditions 
were writing with the finger of doom the sentence 
upon a system which gave to one congregation all 
through its services nothing but the sound of one 
voice and the product of one brain, and that brain 
weary and utterly overtasked. The system was 
merciless to the minister himself. 

" Do our readers ever scan the columns of denominational 
intelligence to note the number of ministerial breakdowns 
that appear there ? The butcher s bill is a heavy one, and 
seems to become heavier every year. Do they ever set them 
selves to study what all this means, the anxiety caused to 
congregations, the damage to religious interests, to say 
nothing of the grievous suffering of the wrecked ones and 
their families ? Steadily, year by year, some of the best and 


J. Brierley 

most useful life of the nation is being ground to pieces between 
the upper and the nether millstones of this system, and yet 
it goes on as though it were part of the order of nature, or 
a vital element of Christianity. And it is all the while nothing 
of the kind. It is certainly not natural, and still less is it 
Christian. It is an invention of the Puritan section of the 
English speaking race, and one which does little credit to 
their common sense. One seeks for it in vain elsewhere. 
In the Greek and Latin Churches it is unknown. In those 
communions the people have no idea of regarding the 
sermon as an essential part of divine worship. The sermon 
is, as a rule, something special, for a special occasion, and 
is entrusted to a specially qualified man. The great preachers 
of the Roman communion have always known how to reserve 
their forces. Lacordaire s Conferences, those magnificent 
specimens of pulpit eloquence which crowded N6tre Dame 
with the elite of Paris, were given in series, with long intervals 
between. Richly furnished as he was for his work, Lacor- 
daire felt the necessity for long intervals of silence and 
retirement in order that he might give only of his best. The 
Protestant communions of the Continent know nothing of 
our system. In the town of Neuchatel, for example, the 
Protestant National Church has four pastors and three or 
four different preaching places. One minister will preach 
a sermon on a given Sunday morning at one of the churches, 
and will repeat it the following Sunday at another ; and 
so on. . . . We ask, what hinders that some such 
method be not established among us ? Why can there not 
be, in towns at any rate, a grouping of churches and a 
partnership of their ministers ? " 

Again, out of the fulness of his heart, his pen 
wrote. Brierley, as minister in active service, 
had never spared himself, and had been increasingly 
conscious that no congregation had the right to wear 
out its preacher by exacting its weekly Shylock s 
pound of flesh out of his heart and brain and nerves. 


The Evolution of "J.B." 

A less conscientious man, finding the strain in 
tolerable, would begin to " ca canny," to rely on 
his fluency, to trust to " what came," but that way 
lies disaster to the minister. He is sooner or later 
found out and condemned as a " wind bag," and he 
joins that one-third of the ministerial army which 
a very distinguished and well-informed Noncon 
formist denominational chief official has said would 
be glad of a call to some other sphere of service, while 
his congregation would be most heartily thankful 
to any church that would give him a call. Mr. 
Brierley was always his own severest critic, and 
rebuked himself for the slightest sign of slackness, 
even when a little temporary slowing down was due 
to ill-health. He had thrown himself to the wolves 
of the " one church, one preacher " congregation, 
and the wolves good, kind wolves though they were, 
and wholly unconscious that there was anything 
wrong in the system to which they had been brought 
up had done for him, assisted by the church 
architect, and sent him to Neuchatel to discover 
in operation what in his view was a far more 
excellent way. 

The " J.B." signature begins to appear in 1889. 
The earliest " J.B." article I have found is in the 
March 7th number an analysis of the Christian 
habit of mind, on Paul s counsel to converts to be 
" without carefulness," while in another of his letters 
the Apostle commends them for their " carefulness." 
J.B." explains the apparent contradiction : 

" The Christian, free by faith from the fear which chills and 
paralyses, has his forces available for things worthy of him. 


J. Brierley 

But his whole character and action will be marked by 
an instinct of carefulness. It will show in his daily work. 
If he is an artist, religion will, by the conscientiousness 
with which it inspires him, prove an aid almost as valuable 
as genius. If an artisan, he will, like Carlyle s father, make 
his Christian carefulness shine out of the bridges he builds, 
or out of whatever other work he puts hands to. If he is 
a teacher, he will take care that no pupil of his falls into 
shipshod habits by copying his own. Half the world s 
mistakes and miseries arise, it is not too much to say, from 
the loss of a religion which expresses itself in carefulness." 

The " J.B." of that early period, however, is still 
more of the preacher-philosopher than the journalist- 
prophet. This " J.B." article was used while the 
" Questions for Free Churches " series was still 
running, and in the March 28th number, a 
" Questions for Free Churches " article on " Free 
Churches and Sisterhoods " is immediately followed 
by a "J.B." article on " Everybody Alone." 
The motive of this article is the essential solitariness 
of the individual in his soul life even while he is 
gregarious in his social relationships. Each has 
his own destiny, lives in his own mental and moral 
universe, but our fellow man is a being with whom 
we walk arm in arm in the grounds which surround 
our dwelling place. But when we enter there, into 
the citadel of our real life, the door closes heavily 
upon us, and our friend is left outside. 

He leads up to the thought that " it is in the 
greatness of the human destiny that of being 
linked in indissoluble ties with God that we 
find the reason for the limitations of our inter 
course with our fellows. To be completely filled 

The Evolution of "J.B." 

with the human would leave no room for the divine. 
Therefore is it that He who has made us for Himself 
has fenced in the soul with barriers, that the fellow 
ship of Father and child may be less interrupted. 
To understand this is to understand the meaning 
of life, and to be victorious in it. Having this 
relationship with the Eternal Spirit, all else falls 
into its proper place. Our human fellowships become 
inexpressibly sweet and sacred because touched 
with the glory that streams over them from the 
sanctuary within where God dwells. And when 
these fellowships fall from us, and we prepare for 
the last great illustration of the soul s solitariness, 
the movement along death s awful road, the spirit, 
as it draws off from time, exultingly sings in the 
words of Him who has redeemed it, I am not 
alone, for the Father is with me. 

There speaks the mystic that was always in 
" J.B." the mystic, however, who hated the idea 
of being lost in contemplation and ecstatic spiritual 
self-indulgence ; but whose sociable soul always 
longed to be in communion with his fellows. 
"J.B. s" mysticism was an inseparable part of his 
composition. He did not coddle it, was rather on 
his guard against it getting too much the upper hand, 
but the note of mysticism, so wholesomely kept 
in its proper place, lent alike moral force and 
literary charm to his practical teaching. At fairly 
frequent intervals the initials were appended to 
articles, of about half the length of what became the 
regular " J.B." measure when he had " come to his 
own." His articles were always given a place of 


J. Brierley 

honour, usually on the leader page, even before 
he joined The Christian World staff as a journalist 
confessed, in 1891. His health was not yet restored, 
and he wisely remained at Neuchatel until he felt 
equal to work under conditions demanding a system 
atic output of energy. Now and again there is 
a suspicion in an article that it is a boiled down 
sermon, but it was always a sermon with meat 
on its bones, and the concentrated essence of it 
has an appetising flavour. Later, with renewed 
vigour, though his nerves were never to be other 
than a terror to him, as he becomes conscious of 
a new career, with the pen replacing the tongue as 
his means of self-expression and prophetic utter 
ance, he gets gradually further away from his MS. 
stock-in-trade, works industriously at the taking in 
of fresh material from the most varied sources, and 
gains in clearness of vision and strength of wing 
for bolder flights over new lands and seas of 
thought and feeling. 

The Prophet in Fleet Street 

IT was in 1891 that Jonathan Brierley settled in 
Fleet Street as a fully-fledged journalist. Many 
ministers with journalistic ambitions have put 
the question to me, " What is the best thing to do 
for a man to get into journalism ? " That is a 
question by no means easy to answer. As a rule, 
a man gets into journalism because he cannot keep 
out of it. Like the poet, he is born, not made. He 
has ink in his veins. He is an eager watcher of the 
drama of the passing day. He is on the bank of the 
swirling stream of the world s activities. He is 
acutely sensitive to all things said and done affect 
ing the life of his time, and there is an irresistible 
impulse to describe the things he has seen, to 
communicate the impressions made upon himself, 
and the facts he has collected, to a circle of readers. 
He has the pen of the ready writer, though when he 
is in journalism he finds himself compelled by 
inexorable editors and sub-editors sternly to 
discipline that pen. He must master the art of how 
to begin, and the still more difficult art of how and 
when to leave off. He must have an unerring eye and 
ear for points that matter and leave out irrelevancies, 
except such as may lend piquancy and colour to an 


J. Brierley 

otherwise bald narrative. The minister aspiring to 
journalistic writing, as a rule, finds his ministerial 
training and style a severe handicap. He is given 
to " introductions " and perorations, and is guilty 
of the unpardonable offence of being " preachy " 
which no newspaper constituency will stand. 
Brilliant academic distinctions, University blue 
ribbons, not rarely act as an equal handicap. The 
University man is given to think that outside his own 
speciality nothing matters. He is an incorrigible 
critic, with the airs of the superior person, of books 
he has given to him for review, and of opinions that 
are other than his own. He can write a dissertation 
but is baffled by a paragraph or a " Note." 

Jonathan Brierley at once settled into his chair, 
as to the manner born. He had the journalistic 
flair highly developed, and simply revelled with almost 
boyish glee in the opportunities given to him by the 
position. Our rooms were next to each other on 
the same floor in Fleet Street. They looked out on 
the same prospect, Chancery Lane opposite, with 
the Law Courts to the left, and to the right " the 
Street of Adventure." At the bottom of Chancery 
Lane a jewellery pawnshop stands on the site once 
occupied by the silk mercer s shop of Izaak Walton. 
Is it far-fetched to discover analogies between the 
author of "The Compleat Angler" and " J.B." ? 
Each of them worked in the mid-stream of London 
life ; each had the same zest in living in that mid 
stream ; each maintained amidst the flurry and 
feverishness of central London his calm serenity ; 
each was a healthily pious soul whose religion was as 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

practical a matter to him as his business or his 
profession ; each was a student of himself and of 
humanity, and looked from his Fleet Street window 
upon humanity with the same serene gaze, and each 
was a writer who put into his literary work the rich 
fulness of his personality. The Fleet Street of 
Walton s time was not the Street of Adventure that 
it is to-day. The current of life in the seventeenth 
century ran with nothing like the swirling current 
of our own time. None the less, " J.B." kept himself 
free from the fever, notwithstanding that no man 
in Fleet Street was more fascinated by its life and 
watched the manifestations of that life with livelier 
interest. " J.B." used to say that his room in Fleet 
Street was a " Cave of the Winds." It was open to 
every wind that blew, and the soul and mind of 
" J.B." were thrown open to all the winds. He 
revelled in them as a strong man walking across a 
wind-blown moor revels in the gusts that try to 
slacken his pace. The wonder of " J.B. s " life and 
work is that, apparently a hopelessly broken man 
when he had scarce passed his fortieth year, and 
from forty to seventy-one often racked with pain, 
and sometimes entirely disabled by physical and 
nervous breakdowns, yet in all Fleet Street there 
was no more robust and virile soul, no thinker or 
writer who kept his finger so closely pressed to the 
pulse of manifold humanity, no seer with a clearer 
vision and with a message so ringing and so surely 
directed to the needs of the age. 

He came to The Christian World in the early years 
of the editorship of Mr. James Clarke, jun. The 

J. Brierley 

father, one of the greatest and noblest religious 
journalists England has ever had, had not long passed 
away. James Clarke, sen., had saved the infant 
paper from striking on the rocks, and by his brilliant 
capacity, his broad catholic outlook on life, his 
sympathy with everything that made for progress 
and freedom, his instinct for men and women who 
could write, he had made the paper a power in every 
land where the English language is spoken. Not 
only had the first editor passed from the scene, 
but the paper had also lost two of its most power 
ful contributors. Dr. Peter Bayne and Mr. J. 
Allanson Picton had for many years been leader 
writers and reviewers. There was room for a new 
comer such as Jonathan Brierley had already shown 
himself to be. Mr. James Clarke, jun., had inherited 
much of his father s scent for ability. He was 
strongly attracted towards Jonathan Brierley as a 
kindred soul, for James Clarke had a holy horror 
of the fastening of any shackles on the free 
spirit of Christian intellectual liberty. Between 
the two men a warm friendship sprang up. The 
sub-editor of that time, who still occupies the sub- 
editorial chair, says, " Whenever I wanted to consult 
James Clarke and found him away from his room, 
it was almost certain I should find him having a 
chat with J.B. upstairs." Mr. Clarke and Mr. 
Brierley planned together various Symposia on such 
theological subjects as the Incarnation, on which 
men of various denominations and diverse theological 
schools were invited to write. Nothing pleased Mr. 
Brierley more than such pooling of opinions. 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

He gladly took his full share of the review work, 
and in no religious paper office was there more 
reviewing to be done than at The Christian World. 

The " big " theological books sent in for review 
were often put into" J.B. s" hands, and there was no 
form of press work that he relished more. He did 
not adopt the time-honoured press tradition of 
reviewing by " cutting the pages and smelling the 
paper knife." He mastered the book, revelling 
in a piece of solid scholarship, constructive thinking, 
and rigorous logic. Even when he was not in 
agreement with the conclusions, the catholic 
eclecticism of his mind, his sure conviction 
that every religious thinker was pursuing the 
truth and glimpsing such part of it as was within 
the range of his vision, made him sympathetic and 
tolerant. There was often acute, but always fair, 
criticism, and never any " slashing " condemnation 
and super ior-personish arrogance and contempt. 

Dr. Dale s The Living Christ and the Four Gospels 
was the subject of a fine bit of reviewing work. At 
that time the " Back to Jesus " tendency was in 
full stream. " J.B.," with Dr. Dale, approved the 
historical method of getting at the real Jesus as 
far as it went, but held that it had its limitations, 
and if followed exclusively had its characteristic 
dangers. He says : " Niebuhr created a revolution 
in historical studies like that initiated in the investi 
gation of the phenomena of Nature by Lord Bacon, 
and in the interests of Christianity itself , not less than 
in the best interests of men, the primary docu 
ments of the Christian faith must be put into the same 

J. Brierley 

crucible. Inevitable as this process is, Dr. Dale s 
book does not appear a moment too soon to remind 
us that the movement has its dangers, and that 
important and fascinating as it is, it is only one 
method of discovering and verifying truth. One 
chief peril is that, being absorbed in the quest for 
the historic bases of the Christian faith, our eyes may 
be closed to the great Emersonian doctrine that the 
Divine voice which speaks authoritatively in the 
soul of man is the source of all our wisdom and the 
working force of our religious faith. Books may 
supersede souls, and that is a usurpation not to be 
suffered even by the best of all books. God Himself 
is nearer the human spirit than any literature, and 
He uses literature as the organ of His thought and 
the conduit of His life. Critics may pore over docu 
ments till they cannot see the essential characters 
of the human spirit ; canvass the testimony of the 
Fathers/ and ignore the witness of consciousness ; 
fight over the Christ of the second century, without 
even seeing the Christ who reveals Himself 
in the tragic experiences and moral miracles 
of the living men of our own day. Let us have 
justifications and verifications by all means 
and on all accounts, but the verifications must 
not be attempted only on one line, and by the sole 
use of the critical faculties. The contents of the 
human consciousness, illuminated and enriched by 
Christ, have as much right to be sifted, arranged, 
and allowed for, as the contents of the letters of Paul 
and Pol year p." 

Shortly after another book that made its direct 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

and impressive appeal to the soul and intellect of 
" J.B." found in him its expert reviewer Dr. 
Hatch s The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages 
upon the Christian Church. He not only did the 
review, in two numbers of The Christian World, 
spread over five columns, but it was followed up by 
an article in which " J.B." as " J.B.," and not as 
reviewer, enforced its lessons. He says : " He 
(Dr. Hatch) has shown that in the very earliest age 
faith was rather loyalty to a Divine Life than belief 
in any series of propositions. He has exhibited the 
causes which were at work during the second and 
third centuries to change this simple affection 
of faith into an intellectual acknowledgment of 
authoritative creeds. That such a process actually 
took place has of course been more than suspected 
by thousands of modern Christians. But we do not 
think it has been set forth so clearly, with such strong 
evidence, or with such telling illustrations, as by 
Dr. Hatch. Many a soul puzzled by polemics, but 
filled with love for the mission of Jesus, may here 
find comfort in the assurance that he has the root of 
the matter in him." 

" J.B." is led on to what he confesses is "delicate 
ground," and there is a touch of unfamiliar bitter 
ness in his condemnation of sloppy modern preach 
ing, when the preacher sets out to be not a prophet, 
but a " pedlar " in popular subjects, and a cheap 
rhetorician. He says : 

"It is impossible to glance at the programmes of pulpit 
lectures and courses of sermons posted at the doors of churches 
without being sometimes sick at heart. Here we have The 


J. Brierley 

Strongest Man in the Bible, there The Richest King in 
Scripture ; and, again, David s Hatred of the Blind and 
Lame. Or we have seen : The Jews, Past, Present and 
To Come. Now, we are far from saying that such subjects 
may not be made entertaining, amusing, or even instruc 
tive ; but we do say that they do not suggest Christian 
preaching. -. . . What Dr. Hatch calls the sophistical 
element in Christian preaching is very largely dependent upon 
the survival of those Greek influences which he has so lucidly 
traced in the course of these lectures. If we can only get 
back from the Nicene Creed to the Beatitudes, from theories 
about the Atonement to the vision of Calvary, and from 
wrangles about Inspiration to the words of Him who spake 
as never man spake, the sophistical element will die away 
of itself." 

The difference between the ideals of the Church 
and the ministry, and the actual modern church and 
its minister, was " rubbed in " in an article of 
March I2th, 1891. He pictures a minister facing the 
ideal and failing to recognise himself in it. 

" Wherein, after all, lies my resemblance to the 
Prophet of Nazareth ? I am an Englishman, 
saturated with the spirit of the Western world 
and of the nineteenth century. I am surrounded 
and hemmed in with conventionalities of all kinds. 
I dress conventionally. I and my family keep up 
a certain social position, and conform to its written 
and unwritten rules. My round of ecclesiastical 
engagements is largely a conventional one, for a 
large part of which I find little enough precedent in 
the four gospels. What is there in all this which 
would lead any of my fellows to discover in my life 
and work anything approaching to a facsimile of 
the life of Jesus ? " 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

Even in ultra "respectable" conditions, " J.B." 
saw no reason why a minister should not be a prophet, 
but he puts down to a false idea of the Church and of 
religion the idea that a Church just exists for 
preaching and hearing much of the starving of the 
modern minister s soul and the clipping of his wings. 
He says : 

" Churches, in a multitude of instances, are in an 
unhealthy condition because they have been trained 
to hear and criticise instead of to work. Some day 
we may hear of a Christian community, with the 
minister at its head, instead of spending the regu 
lation hour and a half of Sunday morning in the 
stereotyped form of service, devoting it to a great 
visitation of the neglected parts of the neighbour 
hood, discovering cases of need, both spiritual and 
temporal, comforting the afflicted and inviting the 
outsiders to a great Gospel Service in the evening. 
Why, when the Master laid such stress on feeding 
the hungry and clothing the naked, should the 
modern minister be shut up to a gospel of talk ? Let 
him be free to abate the flood of religious oratory 
which is now expected of him, and to give himself to 
the service of man in the thousand ways that are 
open. Herein he will be able to follow far more 
closely the footsteps of his Leader, will prolong his 
life by abating the strain upon one overtaxed part 
of his nature, and will show the Church how to 
increase a thousand-fold its power for good upon 
the community and the age." 

That phrase of " abating the strain upon one 
overtaxed part of his nature " was wrung from the 


J. Brierley 

heart of a man who had snapped under the strain, 
and who never gave out his soul in public speech 
without having to pay for it the penalty of pain. 

In an article (January 28th, 1892) on " Prophetic 
Power/* " J.B." discusses the nature of inspiration, 
in preachers and religious teachers. He suggests 
that the Christian Church might profitably institute 
a commission of inquiry to collect and sift all the 
evidence bearing on the possession and exercise of 
prophetic power, with a view to discovering the laws 
of its operation. Such an inquiry, he believes, 
would yield these, among other results : 

" i. There is a condition of mind of the religious 
teacher, in which the power he exerts is not that 
merely of organisation or of affirmation, though 
the effect of these is included in it. 

"2. The speaker finds in himself an exaltation 
of inner states in which, while the brain is intensely 
active, its functions are dominated by another force, 
which some may call religious feeling, which others, 
more specifically, affirm to be a deep sense of the 
Divine presence in the soul. The sense of this 
presence is an essential condition of persuasive or 
prophetic power. 

" 3. This power, higher than thought, can only 
be possessed by men whose minds are deeply and 
habitually exercised on life s highest themes." 

In the very next number of The Christian World 
there is an article by " J.B." on the death of Charles 
Haddon Spurgeon. He found in the lasting power 
of Spurgeon a reinforcement of his views on 
" prophetic power." 

The Prophet in Fleet Street 

It was his spiritual force which drew men. Many 
who did not accept his opinions on more than one 
outlying religious question, and on some which he 
regarded as vital, thankfully reckoned him as their 
teacher because of this. Said Dr. Pusey once, I 
love the Evangelicals because of their great love for 
Christ/ And multitudes of educated Christian 
men loved Charles Spurgeon, spite of intellectual 
differences, for that reason. From the days when 
Samuel Rutherford so preached his Master as to 
compel the Duke of Argyll to cry out, Oh, man, 
keep on in that strain ! no one, we can safely 
say, has set forth the claims of Christ to men s love 
and service with such inimitable sweetness, with 
such melting pathos, with such eloquence of the 
inmost soul as Charles Spurgeon. It may be that the 
dark background of his theology, to which the mood 
of this age could not by any effort accommodate 
itself, threw into greater relief this side of his 

That same year " J.B." wrote on " Yorkshire 
Methodism," which had shown a numerical decline. 
He recalled some notable Yorkshire figures of the 
Evangelical Revival, and led up to William Bram- 
well, of a later generation. There is the familiar 
belief in an ultra-human power operative in men in 
close communion with God, combined with the 
belief that that power, if understood, is not so much 
supernatural as in the line of the Divinely natural. 
He says : 

" Bramwell might be described as one of the elect 
few of humanity who have been permitted to 


J. Brierley 

penetrate into the innermost secret of the spiritual 
life. All the great systems of faith have had the 
consciousness of a far-off but not inaccessible centre 
of life and force, which it was the highest object of 
their cult to reach. In esoteric Buddhism, in the 
Neo-Platonism of Porphyry and lamblichus, in 
the Spiritual Exercises of Loyola, as well as in 
the perfectionism of the Salvation Army, we get 
expressions of this belief. And all the systems have 
examples to quote of those who have attained to 
the highest grade of power. William Bramwell 
must certainly be placed among the foremost of these. 
What other men sought by busying themselves 
amongst their fellows, he, unless his biography is all a 
romance, obtained by communing with the Invisible. 
It was with him a familiar experience to spend long 
hours upon his knees, hours which he counted among 
the most productive of an extraordinarily busy life. 
His prayers seemed to work miracles. If people 
could get him to pray for them, they went away 
assured that the way would be opened, though a 
mountain or a sea stood in front. In his presence 
men were conscious of a subtle spiritual influence 
which they could not analyse, but which filled and 
lifted the soul. Wherever he went, great revivals 
broke out. In the fulness of his power he predicted 
he was about to die, and the prediction was fulfilled. 
"Some day science will come to recognise that, in 
the phenomena which such lives present, lies more 
of the secret of the universe than anything which 
geology or biology can furnish. The latter may 
reveal to us what man has grown from. The former 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

are full of hints as to what he may grow to ... 
The force that shatters men s oppositions and changes 
their lives comes from a sphere behind and above that 
where learning and oratory, wealth and position, 
produce their effects. It is a possession for those 
only who know how to hide themselves in the secret 
place of the Most High." 

The capacity of writing crisp, pointed Notes on 
passing events, is one of the rarest and most valued 
in journalism. " J.B." was specially happy in 
" Notes by the Way," a favourite feature of The 
Christian World from the beginning. On some 
incident that had happened, a remark in somebody s 
speech, a sentence in a paper, or an address, he 
would say with the utmost lucidity, felicity and 
pungency just the right things, condensing into 
half-a-dozen or a dozen sentences what the non- 
journalistic commentator would have required a 
column to deal with. " J.B." always "got there" 
and in the fewest words. Any more words than he 
used would have made the Note less perfect. He 
had a genius for concentration and condensation, 
without sacrificing clearness and human interest. 

The view from his window up Chancery Lane, 
and the glimpse of the Law Courts and of part of 
Fleet Street, gave " J.B." a joyous feeling of 
being in the centre of the whirlpool of London, 
and the Empire. To him a walk along Fleet Street, 
or the Strand, was an adventure as romantic and 
as full of thrilling discovery as any that Haroun 
Alraschid in disguise took through the streets of 
Baghdad. Every man and woman whom he met 


J. Brierley 

was not, as to most people, just an item in a London 
crowd, a drop in the human ocean, but was a 
drama, a thrilling novel, in flesh and blood, as 
crammed with interest as any play of Shakespeare 
or story of George Eliot, Walter Scott, or Dickens. 
In every one of them Jonathan Brierley saw the 
potentialities of tragedy and comedy. If they 
could only be read, if their past and present 
were only known, and their future could only be 
forecast, what an immortal masterpiece the story 
of any life would make ! He felt himself at one 
with them simply because he was a man clothed 
with the same flesh, and because they and he alike 
were moulded in the same dust by the same Divine 
Hand into " His own image." It was this quick 
human sympathy that made " J.B." not only a 
prophet to his age but such a potent personality 
in religious journalism. He loved to feel that 
he was one with the common people, which meant 
that he was one with universal humanity in all 
the ages, every man contributing consciously or 
unconsciously towards the evolution of the race 
and its progress towards the founding and building 
of the City of God. 

His Fleet Street window was like Keats s 
" magic casement opening on the foam of perilous 
seas and faery lands forlorn." It was that burning 
interest in humanity, that insight into the heart 
of man, that sympathy with man s struggles, suffer 
ings, fallings and aspirations, that gave to " J.B." 
the creative imagination which counted for so much 
in the work of his pen. 



The Prophet in Fleet Street 

He describes a City street scene in one of his 
essays : 

"The other day, passing up Ludgate Hill, the present 
writer saw a thief taken in the act. There was a sudden 
rush ; half-a-dozen hands held the struggling wretch until 
a policeman, appearing at the nick of time, took over the 
capture. Got it in his hand, has he ? said the grinning 
officer, as, seizing the culprit by the collar, he marched away 
with him, followed by the crowd. He s got pinched/ said 
an urchin to a group of companions, who entered heartily 
into the jest. Everybody seemed interested. The incident 
was a relief to the monotony of the day. Meanwhile the 
individual who formed the centre of it all was clearly not 
enjoying himself. He was a type of the London vaurien 
of its lowest class, undersized, with bent shoulders, squalid ; 
hunger and despair looking out of his eyes. The most aston 
ishing part of the affair, to one onlooker at least, was the 
perfect ease with which it seemed to fall into a pre-arranged 
system of things. Everything and everybody appeared 
to be ready for that thief. The British Constitution, the 
law court, the magistrate, the policeman, the prison were 
all waiting for him. They were there in anticipation of his 
procedure ; he performed his share in a business, every 
detail of which had been previously thought out. The catch 
ing and immurement of thieves, is not that a feature of 
civilisation ? Society knows exactly the part it has to play. 
Three months hard, endured by the prisoner and paid for 
by the nation, will perfectly settle the account." 

Man, he believed, came from God, and men 
holding the greatest variety of views in all the 
ages were all contributing to the establishment 
of the Truth of truths, and enriching each other 
by their multiplied experiences and their diver 
sities of thought, provided they were honestly 
seeking after God. Evolution he regarded as 


J. Brierley 

God s method of working. Man in the process of 
evolution began as flesh in order that he might 
receive and develop spirit. In Our City of God, 
in the essay on " The Incarnation," he says : 

" This doctrine of personality and of new originations 
the doctrine, in other words, of the universe as spiritual 
and as ever developing carries us a long way in the direc 
tion of our theme. Conjoined with it, as a still further help, 
let us now take another of our instruments of vision, our 
present day philosophy of history, our view, that is, of 
humanity as a whole. The world is now in full possession 
of the idea that history is no mere collection of isolated 
facts, but that it represents an organised and definite move 
ment towards an ascertainable end. History is, in short, 
the record of the spirit u ah sat ion of humanity. Augustine, 
as we have said, in his City of God, worked on that principle, 
though he restricted it to only one portion of the race. Pascal, 
in his great saying that human history was as the story of 
a single individual ever growing and ever learning, put the 
idea into its modern form, the form which was developed 
with such prodigality of illustration by Lessing, by Herder, 
by Hegel, in short by the whole of the German illuminati. 
It is now no longer a German speculation, but the property 
of the race. It is at the back of all our thinking about man. 
The late Archbishop Temple worked it into his much discussed 
essay on The Education of the Human Race/ Lamennais, 
in his Paroles d un Croyant, carried it to the extreme of 
representing humanity as in itself the incarnation of God, 
the eternal victim, bearing its cross, ascending its Calvary, 
offering its expiations." 

" J.B.," while his interest in the individual 
man was intense and never-failing, did not care 
to split humanity up into units. Humanity, to 
him, was not a sand heap, but a continuity of related 
individuals, the totality of whom was God s great 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

family. " The earth is the Lord s and the fulness 
thereof," he held ; but he held just as firmly that 
the earth and its fulness are man s are every 
man s. In one of his latest essays, " Our Poss 
essions," January i5th, 1914, he tells how : 

" We stood once with a landed proprietor on an 
elevated position on his estate. Around us was 
a great stretch of country, fields, moorlands, with 
swelling hills bounding the horizon. It is some 
thing/ said our friend with a laugh, to look around 
on all this, as far as your eye can see, and to feel 
that it is all one s own ! We could not repress the 
reply : When nature stretched out this outline, 
these valleys and hills, millions of years ago, do 
you think she had you particularly in mind ; or 
will you be particularly in her account in the other 
millions of years that this is going to last ? 

He thus states his gospel of " possession " : 

" I possess the estate," says the man of the 
purse. And I possess the landscape/ says the 
poet. He, and the artist with him, own its beauty, 
draw its revenue from high raptures, and noble 
inspirations, in a degree impossible to the mere 
purse. Compare the owning of a rare edition of 
Homer by a wealthy but ignorant book-collector, 
with that of the scholar who knows it by heart. 
We enter into this, the truest ownership, by the 
love and labour of the mind. We take away 
from earth s treasures according to what we bring 
to them. A fresh, beautiful soul, possessing nothing 
in the capitalist sense, will take out of the earth, 
on any summer morning, things which the financial 


J. Brierley 

magnate never stumbles on. He will see worms 
where the other will pick up diamonds. Here is 
old Traherne, the penniless parson of the seventeenth 
century, with not an acre of his own, and yet enjoy 
ing the earth in this fashion : 

Long time before 
I in my mother s womb was born, 
A God, preparing, did this glorious store, 
The world, for me adorne. 
Into this Eden, so divine and fair, 
So wide and bright, I come, His son and heir. 

"Renan felt like that, when, associating himself 
with Francis of Assisi, with no invested capital 
in the earth, he realised, with the saint, that he 
enjoyed the usufruct of the whole, having 
nothing and yet possessing all things. And there 
are others of us, thank God, to-day who are possessors 
of this wealth, and would not part with it for any 

A good many people in the course of a year 
call at The Christian World office with the desire 
of getting publicity given to some cause they have 
at heart, or to explain some religious speciality 
in which they are interested. Very often the callers 
are cranks and the member of the staff on to whom 
they are turned has to dispose of them with as 
little loss of time as possible. " J.B." rather 
liked seeing callers if there seemed a possibility of 
their having anything interesting to say. Once 
a Greek Archimandrite called and was shown 
up to "J.B." With his knowledge of Eastern 
religions and forms of Christianity "J.B." took 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

to the Archimandrite and added at first hand to 
his store of useful information. It does not follow 
that he was so much impressed by the Greek prelate s 
dignified position as by the man whom he en 
deavoured after his manner to discover in the 
ecclesiastic. He kept up his acquaintance with 
leaders of French religious life and thought such 
as Sabatier. When he knew that any of these were 
visiting England, he would write to invite them 
d luncher with the intention of having a stimu 
lating intellectual and spiritual " crack " with them 
afterwards. As regards the interviewing, he did 
not care to see men of the narrow and unscholarly 
type who were ignorantly intolerant of other men s 
opinions, and wanted to nail the faith down on the 
counter as a bad coin is nailed with the idea of 
keeping the faith fixed. " J.B." believed in a 
faith that is always being freshly minted of the 
pure gold of increasing knowledge and vividly 
realised personal experience. Always kindly and 
broad-minded, he mellowed as he grew older and 
took an increasing dislike to controversy. For 
one thing, he knew only too well that controversy 
in matters of religion only sharpens temper and 
stirs up bad blood, leaving each party the more 
fixed in his opinion. He would state his own 
view on any question as clearly as he could ; if 
his view was attacked he let his case stand as he 
had stated it, and rarely troubled to reply to any 
attacks upon it. 

He always took the greatest care to make his 
thought so clear in its verbal expression that no 


J. Brierley 

reader should have any doubt as to his meaning. 
He was a very careful reader of his proofs and 
made few alterations, but sometimes, if it struck 
him that a passage could be put into clearer and 
terser language, he would re-write it. Now and 
again compositors who did not possess microscopic 
vision misread what he had written. Like many 
other writers, " J.B." was serenely unconscious 
of the worry his manuscript was to the printers. 
Now and again he was a little ruffled by the 
" improvements " effected in what he had written, 
and expressed his intention to go over and treat 
the offenders to a little lecture on their high crime 
and misdemeanour. 

It was in the Essay that " J.B." found in The 
Christian World a medium of expression exactly 
suited to his genius. The Essayist follows his own 
path, fancy free, and if he chooses he can leave 
the path and indulge in any diversion that lures 
him into a pleasant by-way. He is not hampered 
by set rules, for he makes his own rules as he goes 
on. Into the Essay the writer can infuse his 
personality. He can, if he is that way disposed, 
be dignified ; or he can take slippered ease in the 
easy chair and chat garrulously. He can take 
all mankind and all knowledge for his province. 
He can quote at his sweet will. He can press into 
his service all that he has read, heard, or seen. 
He can give the reins to his imagination, be humour 
ous or sentimental, be as long or as short as he 
pleases, or as his editor will allow. " J.B." felt 
his way towards the length and style which made 

10 6 

The Prophet in Fleet Street 

the essays of " J.B.," at his ripest and richest, the 
dearest delight to his weekly readers. His early 
efforts, as has been suggested, were still a little 
in the sermonic style. It was difficult for a man 
who had served the pulpit for sixteen years to 
divest himself entirely of his pulpit robes and 
mannerism, but at the end of three years or so 
Jonathan Brierley had become thoroughly " J.B." 
of The Christian World. Space limitation always 
has to be considered in a newspaper. " J.B." 
had the gift of moving at his ease in the two 
columns and a bit given to him on the leader page. 
For one thing, he had learnt, what every preacher 
would do well to learn, the value of concentrating 
on a single idea and getting that idea driven home 
by looking at it from various points and illustrating 
it from all sorts of sources. It is an ancient vice 
of the pulpit to confuse congregations by allowing 
successive secondlies, thirdlies, and so on to over 
lay the firstly, the fact being that each additional 
" point " or " lesson/ often forced in to make up 
a given number, is skilfully or unskilfully applied to 
the blotting out of the point or lesson just developed. 
"J.B." as essayist always hit the nail on the 
head and drove it home because he had only one 
nail and hammered at it without missing till 
it was fast to the neck. If he had not said all 
that could be said on the subject he would! return 
to it in another essay and that other essay was so 
fresh from beginning to end that it read like a 
new creation as it was. Some of his colleagues 
used to chaff him on his fondness for " a theme 


J. Brierley 

with variations ; " for when his imagination was 
powerfully kindled by a creative idea, he would 
return to it again and again, so varying the pre 
sentation of the idea, however, that an incautious 
reader might fail to discover its essential identity 
with the idea as expounded in previous " J.B. s." 
" J.B.," with his pen, had Beethoven s and Mozart s 
genius for giving a score or a couple of score of varia 
tions of the same theme in such a way that each 
variation was itself a miniature masterpiece. " J.B."s 
gift in this direction came in handy when selecting 
essays for republication in volume form. The 
" theme with variations " gave a telling title and 
lent a thread of continuity to the collected essays. 
The Note-books of " J.B.," on which a chapter 
follows, show that " J.B." was a voracious reader 
and a warm admirer of the essayists, English and 
French. The French essayists and writers of 
Pensees and Maximes especially appealed to him. 
These were men of great intellectual power and 
original outlook on life, naturally gifted with the 
rare and fine art of putting things. They were 
shrewd judges of human nature and acute critics 
of life, though sometimes their criticism was coloured 
and their judgment somewhat warped by a dash 
of cynicism. " J.B." liked the logic, the lucidity, 
the point, the grace of the French writers. Pascal, 
La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyere, Vauvenargues, 
Montaigne, Joubert and similar critics of life he 
had at his finger ends. He was one of the first of 
the few Englishmen who have understood Rabelais, 
that intellectual and prophetic giant in cap and 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

bells. It is Montaigne, however, who, in French 
literature, appealed with special force to " J.B." 
Montaigne might almost be described as a French 
" J.B." of the sixteenth century. He was the creator 
of the French Essai. The Essai to Montaigne 
was Montaigne himself. Montaigne was an omni 
vorous reader, and no man of his time had a more 
piercing eye for contemporary men and movements. 
He was a genial philosopher in slippers, and no doubt 
forced thousands of people to read him, with the 
grace and piquancy of his style, who read little 
literature of a more systematic and serious kind. 
I cannot help thinking although, so far as I know, 
" J.B/ never confessed it, perhaps he was scarcely 
conscious of it that Montaigne was very much 
his model in the matter of literary form, and not 
only in the matter of form, but in his ways of treating 
life. " J.B." was a modern English Christian 
Montaigne, the man of encyclopaedic knowledge, 
the open mind, the searching eye, the smiling 
sympathy, and with, underneath, what Montaigne 
had not, a deep current of Christian faith and 
Christian feeling. 

" J.B." had the Sophoclean outlook on life, the 
outlook that " sees life steadily and sees it whole." 
Nothing that concerned humanity was foreign to 
his heart and interest. Some of his readers would 
possibly have been shocked at papers and magazines 
that "J.B." read, but "J.B." believed that if 
you wanted to understand people you must read 
what they read and find out the things that interest 
them. He read The Referee, for instance. The 



J. Brierley 

Referee, a Sunday paper, at one time had a weekly 
article on some religious subject. " J.B." discovered 
that the writer of these articles was snowed under 
almost by letters from readers expressing their 
interest in them. The discovery gave him the 
greatest joy. It revealed to him what a vast 
number of good people in the Churches never realise, 
that there is very real interest in religion among 
masses of people who never darken church doors, 
and are regarded as outcasts from the Churches, 
and callously indifferent to the concerns of the soul. 
To " J.B." it was incredible that any man could 
expel the religious instinct from his being. Like 
Tertullian, he believed in " the soul of man naturally 
Christian," and that though he may try to live 
without religion, and may think he has got rid of 
religion altogether, there will be crises in the man s 
life when religion will force itself back, and claim 
its rightful share in his heart and interest. 

" J.B. s " mind was so richly stored that an idea 
had only to be dropped into it and it would gather 
by electrical attraction the matter and wealth of 
illustrations and quotations required to complete 
an essay. He was most catholic in his reading, 
though he had his specialities. He knew the 
Fathers of the Church, Greek and Latin, and could 
quote Origen, Augustine or Tertullian as familiarly 
as the modern daily paper special article writer 
quotes Kipling or George Bernard Shaw. To his 
reading, which he kept up vigorously to the end, 
were added his close following of the literature the 
newspapers, reviews and books of the day, his 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

personal observation of men and things, and what 
he picked up in his discussions at the Eclectic and 
in little groups round a smoke-room table at the 
National Liberal Club, where after lunch most 
things in heaven and earth and in the waters under 
the earth are settled by select coteries over the 
coffee, and with that cloud of tobacco smoke which 
the Dutch forefathers of New York, and certain 
eminent theologians and philosophers still living, 
considered essential to clearness of vision and 
soundness of judgment. Nobody ever talked with 
" J.B." without feeling that he had had a mental 
and spiritual tonic, and " J.B." never talked with 
anybody from whom he did not pick up something 
that would be of future use to him. The books he 
reviewed, the sermons he heard, would set his mind 
going, and fire his imagination, giving him the 
subject of a " J.B." There are tricks of the trade 
even in the Essay business. " J.B. s" Notebooks 
are full of quotations out of almost any one of which 
a man with his intellectual stock-in-trade and 
quickness of invention could get an article. There 
is strong reason to suspect that " J.B. " was indebted 
to his quotations for quite a crop of his essays. He 
would not start off with the quotation as a text. 
He would lead off with " J.B." pure and simple, 
and perhaps half-way through the quotation and 
its author would appear at the nick of time, like 
Bliicher at Waterloo, to reinforce " J.B." and 
clinch the conclusion he was driving at. It took 
a " J.B.", however, to get such Essays out of his 
quotations, and he would not have got the Essay 


J. Brierley 

if he had not first disinterred the quotations from 
the books in which he had found them, and with 
many of those books few in England beside 
" J.B." were familiar. Moliere claimed the right 
to use whatever he could find that he could work 
into his plays, and Handel boldly confessed that he 
exercised the same right of gleaning golden grain, 
and working it up into his operas and oratorios. 
Moliere and Handel exercised the prerogative of 
genius, and as a man of genius "J.B." did not 
disdain to follow their example. As he recognised 
truth wherever he found it, so he rejoiced in finely 
pointed and picturesque phrasing of a truth, and 
delighted to hang such an " apple of gold in a picture 
of silver " on a wall of the Essay house that " J.B." 

It was no light business, in addition to his other 
journalistic work, to create a " J.B." article every 
week. He would stay at home on Thursday, The 
Christian World day off, and on Saturday, to set the 
wheels of his mind going, and get his article sketched 
in brief. That sketch method he had practised 
with profit from the beginning, in the preparation 
of his sermons and addresses as minister. During 
the years of his membership of The Christian World 
staff, when his health was fairly good, he would 
finish his article, very likely, by Saturday evening. 
In his later years he often found himself most in 
the mood for writing on a Sunday evening. He 
lived a long way from Lyndhurst Road Church 
at Hampstead, which he attended in the morning. 
His health, never good at its best, did not permit 


The Prophet in Fleet Street 

him to attend two services, and he felt he could 
not better employ the solitude and calmness of 
the Sunday evening, when he could be sure of 
freedom from distraction, than in the writing of 
an article that was going to fill the hearts and 
minds of scores of thousands of lay-readers, and 
that was certain to re-appear in its thought, and very 
likely in its phrases and quotations, in hundreds 
of sermons. The writing of a " J.B." was to him 
not only a labour of love, but it was a pious sacrifice 
laid on the altar of the Master who was the inspiration 
of all his feeling and thinking. " J.B.", writing his 
essay, felt that a live coal from the altar, according 
to his view of prophetic inspiration, might kindle 
the pen of the ready writer as much as the lips of 
the pulpit preacher. 

He wrote in a microscopic hand, contriving to 
squeeze his two-and-a-half columns or so in The 
Christian World into five slips of manuscript. His 
manuscripts are simply blinding, even to a man 
whose eyesight is good. A friend who professes to 
be an expert in chirography informs me that such 
microscopic writing may be taken as a sign of intense 
mental concentration of the writer. Compositors 
and others, such as sub-editors, who have to make 
out such writing, might well rejoice that microscopic 
mental concentration is a rare thing. " J.B."s 
script might have been written, as Meissonnier was 
said to paint, under a microscope and with nibs made 
specially fine for the purpose. The article was 
usually in the sub-editor s hands on Monday morning, 
and " J.B." carefully revised the proof. 

J. Brierley 

His fellow members of the staff realised the char 
acter of the man in the journalist, and referred 
to him half seriously, half jokingly, as " the 
prophet." He was not a prophet " like a star 
who dwelt apart," but was genial, companionable, 
comradely, entirely destitute of " side." If he 
had heard a good story, or a humorous idea had 
struck him, he would come into his neighbour s 
room to share it. His alert manner, cheery smile 
and twinkling eyes did good to his colleagues, in 
whose work he took a kindly interest, and he was 
not slack in expressing appreciation of anything 
that he had liked. It was a great grief to all when 
the word came that henceforward his work must 
be done at home, but often he sent kindly mess 
ages to those of us with whom he had long been 
associated in the bringing out of the paper. 


The Books of "J.B." 

THE books of " J.B." were republications of selec 
tions of his essays. First in date was the Questions 
for the Free Churches, but here we have still the 
" Congregational Minister," rather than " J.B.," 
criticising in a friendly spirit the short-comings 
of the denominational Churches, which he is anxious 
to see facing the age untrammelled by ancient 
methods that have no relation to modern needs. 

From Philistia : Essays on Church and World 
(1893) is " J. B." well in the making. There is 
a good deal of the work done at Neuchatel, collected 
from various periodicals, and some till then 
unpublished. The title-page bears the motto, " La 
Verite etant un sommet, tout chemin qui monte 
y conduit." 

There is defiant challenge in the title. Matthew 
Arnold was engaged in his favourite pastime of 
persiflage of Puritanism and all its works and 
ways, as the antithesis of Hellenic " sweetness 
and light." Puritanism stood for pietistic " Phil 
istinism/ that coinage of German origin used to 
express the suburban bourgeois attitude to 
wards life and literature, as against the attitude 
of the cultured " children of this world." Non- 

J, Brierley 

conformity was satirised on the stage and in novels, 
and " Society " regarded it as vulgarity that " came 
between the wind and its nobility." Yet, says, 
"J- B." : 

" What is here written will be found, not only definitely 
related to religious faith, but to a form of it which polite 
Society has, with impressive unanimity, pronounced upon. 
These essays are edited from the heart of Philistia. In other 
words, their author belongs to that region of esprits bornes, 
and of intellectual density, connoted by the terms Protest 
ant Nonconformist. To enter here will be, doubtless, to 
many cultured persons, an adventure as serious and un 
wonted as to traverse the realms of 
Antres vast and deserts idle, 
Of anthropophagi and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders. 

If any such make the venture we can only wish them a 
safe and happy issue out of it. Should they emerge alive 
it may perhaps, be with the tidings that the tales of intel 
lectual savagery in vogue concerning its inhabitants owe, like 
some of Othello s stories, a good deal to the imagination of 
their authors." 

Noteworthy are the range of the author s literary 
interests, the catholicity of his taste and the poise 
and large tolerance of his judgments. He places 
men of the most diverse types in the setting of their 
age and nation, and tries to get at the soul of the 
man beneath what, sometimes, is a repulsive 
outward show. He is not afraid of traditional 
bogeys of pious people, such as Voltaire. When 
he gets close to such bogeys, and is introduced 
to them, he finds that they have something 
to teach that even the pious people would be 
the better for learning. Thus, under the often 


The Books of "J.B." 

nauseating " Pantagruelism" of Rabelais, he sees 
a reformer of eclectic culture, a man of immense 
genius with views far in advance of his age and 
country, expressing these views in the most effec 
tive way then possible, always at the risk, if he 
were " found out," of being burnt as a dangerous 
heretic. Voltaire was not, as usually held by 
religious people in this country, an eighteenth 
century Satan in impudent revolt against God, 
but " a convinced Theist, believing in a righteous 
God and in a life to come," a man able to appre 
ciate a reasonable religion as he had seen it lived 
in England, a fearless preacher of religious tolerance, 
who cast down the gauntlet in the face of the Church 
that broke heretics on the wheel and hunted them 
like wild beasts. It was the ugly side of religion, 
as shown by the Church in France in the age of 
its foulest corruption, that he attacked with the 
merciless satire of his unrivalled pen. There 
is an essay on Lucian, that Greek Voltaire of the 
second century, who, with the grace of a Heine, 
scarified the religious and philosophical charlatans 
battening on the credulity of a superstitious and 
ignorant people. He finds that Lucian, after all, 
by his hatred of humbug and imposture, and 
his exposure of the shams of his age, was really 
showing himself " on the side of the angels," and 
unconsciously preparing the way for the Christ 
ianity which he had only known through the antics 
of certain unworthy exploiters of it. Boethius, 
the philosopher moralist of the sixth century, 
is discussed with sympathetic insight. The author 


J. Brierley 

of the De Consolatione seems to have been much 
more of a " classic " than a Christian, for even 
when dealing with questions of Christian theology 
his arguments and methods are drawn from Plato 
and Cicero, rather than from Paul. " The problem," 
says " J.B.," " seems soluble by a very simple 
hypothesis, but one which critics generally appear 
to have overlooked. It is that of explaining 
Boethius on the supposition that, while a Christian 
by profession, he was by temperament and mental 
habitude mainly a philosopher and a classicist. 
. . . . His case is by no means without parallel. 
The Renaissance shows us multitudes of men, 
in Italy and France especially, ecclesiastics by 
profession, who on occasion delivered themselves 
duly in defence of orthodoxy, but whose tastes 
and sympathies were essentially pagan. There 
was, though, this difference between them and 
Boethius. While the latter assimilated what was 
best and noblest in the old world, too many of the 
former revelled in the aspects of it which were 
sensuous and base." Montaigne, of course, found 
in " J.B." a friendly critic one who not only 
found him " prodigiously entertaining," a level 
headed and genial philosopher in a mad world, 
a gay-spirited agnostic, prepared in matters of 
religion to live and let live, but a teacher whose 
book remains as one of the very few the study and 
mastery of which constitute in themselves a 
liberal education. 

Some essays of the " Congregational Minister " 
type, sandwiched between these studies, have an 


The Books of U J.B." 

incongruous look. They provoked from the 
reviewers criticism of the " inequality " of the 
essays, but on the whole the reception of the book 
was favourable enough to encourage the author, 
and the critics whose judgment was most worth 
having were quick to recognise the originality 
and value of the work of the Free Church " Phil 

In 1893 appeared Studies of the Soul, the most 
successful of all his books. It has run into eight 
English editions, and has had a large circulation 
in translations into German, Swedish and other 
languages. To " J.B." the soul was the person 
ality of the man, the means of spiritual communi 
cation alike with his fellow men and with God. 
It was the battleground of the forces of light and 
darkness. It could be fed or starved, grown or 

To a generation which does not read the world s 
deepest books it is difficult to give an idea of what 
the human soul has really grown to in those who 
have given it a chance. The literature of this 
subject is the lives of the great saints, and amongst 
them perhaps especially the great mystics. Here 
we learn the possibilities of a grown-up soul ; the 
annihilation in it of the lower desires, and the 
full set of its determination upon the highest 
things ; its power of vision, by which it has an 
apprehension of God which nothing can shake, 
and a sense of the spiritual world that makes it 
grandly indifferent to the conditions of the earthly 
lot ; its power of influence, such that through 


J. Brierley 

commonest words and acts thrill mysterious 
forces that shake and inspire the hearts of men; 
and its power of enjoyment, drawn from sources 
which the world cannot dry up, and which reaches 
at times an intensity that transcends the limits of ex 
pression. Unless the world s best men and women 
have been its greatest liars, these experiences have, 
in differing degrees, been common to them all." 

Everything, he argues, turns on the question 
of personality. 

" The personal is the one thing that interests. 
Doctrine and dogma, whether theologic, social or 
economic, left to its naked self, will moulder 
on the back shelves of libraries. To be powerful 
it must be incarnated. Create a living character 
which holds the doctrines and he will preach them 
to millions. The Baptist creed of Pilgrim s 
Progress can hardly be called attractive to the 
mass. As talked by Christian and Hopeful it is 
the property of the world. Scotch Presbyter- 
ianism in the aibstract is held commonly by 
outsiders to be a dry subject. Translated into 
the life of a Jeannie Deans, or into the characters 
and opinions of the worthies of Drumtochty, its 
flavour is appreciated by every palate. Art 
tells the same story. The pictures that live 
are those where the colours have been mixed with 
the artists own life-blood. 

" Surely the reason of all this is plain, and it is 
dead against the materialists. Into whatever 
region of thought we stray whether theology, 
philosophy, history, literature or art we find the 


The Books of "J.B." 

universe spelling out one word as its final message, 
that word is personality. The personal life is the 
ultimate life, the personal interest the ultimate 
interest. The line which is writ everywhere on this 
side of the grave, we may well believe is the 
line beyond it, and becomes thus the charter of 
our persona] existence after death." 

The complexity of the soul ; its inheritance, 
conscious and unconscious, for its direct line 
of succession and the race ; its inexhaustible 
treasure in the subsconscious self waiting to be 
brought to the surface and always in a myriad 
ways influencing its activities and its outlook ; 
its autonomy, if it choses to exercise it, not at all 
fettered, but invested with limitless freedom by 
its Overlord ; its " impedimenta," its " negative 
capability," the use of imagination in religion 
these, and other aspects of the question of soul 
personality, are discussed with never failing zest, 
and with amazing fertility of thought, fancy and 

The essay, " Life s Unknown Quantities," reaches 
the high water mark of " J.B. s" achievements. 
Many readers have testified to the indelible im 
pression it made upon them. He begins : 

" Emerson has, in one of his essays, a striking passage 
in which he speaks of the way in which the machinery of 
society adapts itself almost automatically to the varying 
fortunes of the individual. A man in the heat of passion 
commits some crime which, in his earlier years, would have 
seemed to him impossible. When he comes to himself it 
appears incredible that he should have done such a thing. 
He finds, however, society, with its police, its magistrates, 


J. Brierley 

its dock, its criminal procedure, calmly and methodically 
dealing with this phase of his career as though it had been 
waiting for it through all the years. It is a somewhat grue 
some reflection, but there is an idea underlying it which 
may be carried further. The varied apparatus of civilisa 
tion, and its startling relation to us under certain contin 
gencies, suggests an even more complex structure and its 
relations that, namely, of our own organism and inner 
consciousness. It would be a bewildering calculation to 
endeavour to total up the sum of all the phases and shades 
of thought and feeling passed through by a fully -developed 
modern man in the course of a life-time. But the calcula 
tion would, after all, be simple when compared with another 
that of the experiences which, through that life-time, have 
been possible to such a nature, but into which it has never 
entered. There is something eerie in the thought of the 
pictures which our inner machinery is prepared to throw 
at any moment upon the screen of our consciousness, but 
which will never come there. The precise sensation realised 
by a person when threatened by a terrible catastrophe, such 
as death by burning or by murder ; or that, on the other 
hand, felt on the news of the coming to us of a great fortune, 
is what few among us will ever know. None the less the 
registering apparatus for the production of that sensation 
is all ready within us, and would, on occasion, produce it 
there with infallible accuracy. Poets have often chosen 
psychological themes as the subject of their muse. They 
have written on Hope, on Memory, on Imagination. There 
is clearly a field open for another great poem the Unrealised 
Possibilities of Consciousness." 

He is led on to consider not simply the existing 
capabilities which are never called into action, 
but the possible further development of the capaci 
ties themselves. We know a very little of such 
powers as that of memory, of the " second sight " 
possessed by certain individuals, of the mysterious 


The Books of "J.B." 

powers, baffling completely our Western science, 
shown by Eastern yogi, all, we may well believe, 
part of our common heritage, if we know only 
where to find and how to train them. 

" A fresh window let into the wall of our con 
sciousness might make our knowledge of the 
world as certain as that of the planetary system, 
and cause Agnosticism, Pessimism, and Materialism 
to be tenable only in Bedlam. And no sound 
Evolutionist will say that such an organic develop 
ment is impossible. The outside universe contains 
innumerable unknown quantities ; and that man 
has, in his microcosm, the elements which answer 
to them all, may be far more than a poetic conceit. 
What Goethe said of the Divine immanence has its 
meaning also for man : 

Ihm ziemt s, die Welt im Innern zu bewegen, 
Natur in sich, sich in Natur zu hegen." 

In The Eternal Religion, published in 1905, he 
is preoccupied with the essential unity of all 
religion in so far as it is a feeling after God if haply 
we may find Him. It is the soul of man seeking 
contact with its Maker. " I have," he says, " kept 
always before me the idea of religion as at once a prin 
ciple and a history. Its story, properly considered, 
is that of eternal ideas expressed, with varying 
degrees of clearness, in historical personalities. 
The progress both of the ideas and of the person 
alities has, it is here maintained, reached, so far, 
its highest tower in Christianity, which is accordingly 
here treated as the Eternal Religion." The view 
presupposes, of course, the method of evolution 


J. Brierley 

which, indeed, to " J.B.," was a most powerful 
reinforcement of faith, while, at the same time, 
it made in the sphere of religion for the completest 
tolerance and the catholic spirit. 

He has no faith in a vain Protestant attempt, 
in the interest of a traditional concept of an 
" infallible Bible," to " join modern science to 
ancient Genesis." 

" The position to-day amongst both religious teachers and 
their followers is, in this matter, entirely unsatisfactory. 
They are carrying two sets of ideas in their minds to each of 
which they in turn defer, but which they are quite unable 
to reconcile. They believe in science ; they believe in revel 
ation. They accept the truth which is being arrived at by 
observation and research ; they live morally by another 
truth which they hold has come down from heaven. But 
when these two appear to clash, as is often enough the case, 
the modern believer has no solution of the difficulty. He 
is only uneasily conscious that his two life theories are some 
how at war, and his soul suffers accordingly. 

It is time this war was ended, and that can only be in one 
way. Religious peace will come, a peace final and abiding, 
when men everywhere recognise that these two things are, 
after all, one ; that science and revelation are really the same 
thing; that there is no true revelation that is not science, 
and that there is no true science that is not revelation. 
Humanity has been long, and by devious routes, working 
its way towards this conclusion, and at last it is fully in sight. 
To accept it, we know, means to cut through a great many 
venerable ideas, but, crede expertis, when we have done 
the business, we find ourselves spiritually not one penny the 

He shows to what good purpose he has studied 
the history of religion and the new science of com 
parative religion. 


The Books of "J.B." 

" Where the Church has fallen into error, and brought 
confusion into our thinking, has been not in affirming a Divine 
revelation, but in restricting it to one particular time or set 
of times, and to one particular order of ideas. Whereas 
the Divine revelation is an eternal one]; has been going on from 
the beginning ; is going on now. It is a favourite idea of 
certain researchers, illustrated, too, with a vast mass of evidence, 
that every tribe of man has in its literature or customs the 
marks of a pure and elevated primitive faith. However 
that may be, one cannot read the world s story at any point 
without realising how, from the beginning, the men of every 
nation have been under a spiritual discipline. Who that has 
looked into the Bhagavad Gita but has felt this as regards 
India ? When we read, too, the definition of religion by Asoka, 
the great Buddhist king : Religion is an excellent thing. 
But what is religion ? Religion is the least possible evil, much 
good, piety, charity, veracity, and also purity of life, can 
we doubt that here, also, was a heavenly leading ? The Stoics 
were seekers after God if ever there were any ; and when 
Epictetus declares : When you have shut your door and 
darkened your room, say not to yourself you are alone ; God 
is in your room, we may be sure that some of them had not 
only sought God, but found Him. That was a truth which 
some of the early Fathers were not slow to realise. It is 
pleasant to see an Origen, a Clement, openly proclaiming 
that the Greek and Latin teachers spoke by the inspiration 
of the Eternal Word. Zwingli, who saw so many things 
before his time, saw also this. In a Confession of Faith, 
written just before his death, he speaks of the assembly 
of all the saintly, the heroic, the faithful and the virtuous, 
when Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, 
will mingle with Socrates, Aristides and Antigonus, with 
Numa and Camillus, Hercules and Theseus, the Scipios and 
the Catos, and when every upright and holy man who has 
ever lived shall be present with his Lord. Luther and 
Bossuet, from their opposite camps, joined in condemning 
this utterance. We to-day, in the clearer light that has come to 
us, are sure that he was right and that they were wrong." 


J. Brierley 

A favourite idea is that of our potential wealth. 
We usually prefer, however, to trudge through 
life as tramps without drawing on our credit at God s 
bank. Says " J.B." :- 

" Another page of the ledger, always on the debit side, 
opens with our conscious life. Here again an incessant, 
unpaid for, receiving. We breathe the air of liberty. It 
was won by our forefathers, who, some of them, laid down 
their lives as the price. Our mind, as it opens, gulps know 
ledge, truth, beauty; civilisation, the arts, music, science, 
the myriad conveniences of life, are there waiting for us. And 
they are all gifts. Our billionaire, it seems, is fitting us up 
gratis and regardless of expense. Yet more. It is made 
plain to us that this largeness of reception is the condition 
and ground of our value. Our quality of being is according 
to our power of taking it in. The universe with all its wealth, 
of being, is around the oyster just as much as around you 
and me. The difference between us is that the oyster cannot 
digest the universe as we can. Our faculties, our organs, 
are the most insatiate of beggars, incessant with their give, 
give/ at every point extracting from the world its precious 
things, and carrying them to that limitless absorber, our inner 

What is our cheque book on the bank ? 

" The possibilties of life will never be properly realised 
until each one of us is intent on getting the best in order 
that he may give the best. I am defrauding my fellow if 
I do not seek to broaden and deepen my mind, with every 
labour and exercise, that I may speak to him from a fuller 
knowledge, a wider experience. What an immense signi 
ficance for all teachers lies in that remark of Stanley on 
Newman : How different the fortunes of the Church of 
England might have been if Newman had been able to read 
German ! How dare any of us attempt to teach unless we 
have learned something, and unless we are continually learning 


The Books of "J.B." 

more ! And this learning will have to be more than a secular 
knowledge. Our commerce will have also to be with the 
Unseen. To us must apply that fine idea of Plutarch s, 
where, speaking of the daimon of Socrates, he declares that 
it was the influence of a superior intelligence, and a diviner 
soul, operating on the soul of Socrates, whose calm and holy 
temper fitted him to hear this spiritual speech. " 

The futility of trying to tether man to systems 
of thought of any age is thus demonstrated : 

"By an imperious law of his being man overturns all that 
he creates. We are at last beginning to understand why 
this is. When the lesson has been completely learned the 
revolt of one part of us against the other will cease. What 
is the fact ? It is simply that there can be no permanence 
for man in any of his systems, and that because change is the 
law of his own being. He is the eternal changer. That, 
however, fortunately, is not the whole. It is not mere 
wreckage that he indulges in. His creeds, his constitutions, 
incessantly crack and fall around him, because he, the in- 
dweller, is ever getting bigger. And the growing nature 
must, as part of the process, continually cast its old shell. 
The secret at his centre, which explains all, is that man is 
not a Being so much as an eternal Becoming, a passage always 
from one stage to another. And because of this no extern 
ality can be final for him. It stands, but he moves. And 
the thing that stands is bound to be left behind by the thing 
that moves." 

Ethics as practical morals, rather than as the 
philosophy of morality, always attracted him. A 
movement was started in France to found a so-called 
scientific morality, independent of the Christian 
sanctions. The claims of justice, social order and 
morality were urged at great meetings on purely 
naturalistic grounds. With all* his catholicity of 
charity, " J.B." knew too much of history and 


J. Brierley 

of the heart of man to believe that there was any 
rooting and branching power in a merely material 
istic morality. He puts his finger on the weak 
link where the chain will snap. 

" A true morality, we have said, requires a growing know 
ledge. But to be operative it demands something more. 
It must have a motive, an impelling force. We know Matthew 
Arnold s definition of religion morality touched with 
emotion. It is by no means a complete definition, but it 
goes a long way. And it is the Christianity of the presence 
of Christ that gives us the true morality and the true emotion. 
In Russia or England, or anywhere else, where religion may 
be more or less dismembered from the best living, it is because 
there is a link missing, a lack of coherence between the know 
ing and the feeling. Where the Gospel is really understood 
and felt it has always uplifted the morals. Chalmers in his 
early days preached morals alone and with no moral result. 
He became filled with the love of Christ, and with that power 
behind him engiaved the ethical precepts on the heart of 
Scotland. M. Villemain, in his great work on the Fathers, 
while recognising that the early Church lost much of the 
intellectual treasure of the Greeks, observes that it was more 
than compensated by the moral force which Christianity 
brought into the world. The heart of man, as he truly says, 
has gained more in this discipline than its imagination has 

To Augustine " J.B." had always been power 
fully drawn as a great Christian soul whose thinking 
was the outcome of his personal experience and his 
deepest feeling. One of " J.B. s" earliest essays 
dating from the Neuchatel period was on " St. 
Augustine in Literature." It was the man, rather 
than the " Augustinian Theology " in which he found 
much that was repellent and contrary to his view 


The Books of "J.B." 

of the love of God and His relation to men that 
interested him, but he found in the conception 
of " The City of God " a thought that lent itself 
to enlargement from the limitations given to it by 

In Our City of God, published in 1897, he works 
out his own idea of the city of a purified and glorified 
humanity. The various more or less complemen 
tary essays are grouped in three Parts I. Theo 
logical ; II. Social ; III. Personal. We find various 
familiar ideas reappearing in such essays as " The 
ology s Hidden Factors," Our Debt to Life," 
" The Doctrine of Limit," and " Our Personal 

The shortcoming of Augustine s view of " The 
City of God " was due, he shows, to the historical 
conditions of the time when the " De Civitate Dei " 
was written. The Roman Empire, which had 
seemed the framework of all civilisation, was 
crumbling into ruins and it seemed as if anarchy 
was to overwhelm the world as a flood. Augus 
tine took refuge in the thought of a Church, a body 
of elect souls who, and who alone, would be saved 
from the wreck of all that was visible. The host 
outside were a massa perditionis, whose very 
virtues are splendida vitia, and whose doom is the 
eternal fire. But that meant leaving the Church 
without influence on the perishing world. It 
presupposed a too pessimistic view of the world. 
It lent itself to that intolerance which made the 
Catholic Church of later days a ruthless persecutor. 


J. Brierley 

" What great and eternally true things there 
are in his conception ! The view of world-history 
as the continuous unfolding of a Divine purpose ; 
of world policies, moralities and economies as being 
rooted finally in spiritual principles ; of the State 
as subordinate to an invisible power that is higher 
than itself does not all this remain to us not 
only august and venerable, but as essentially 
valid ? Augustinianism needs and has received 
in our time rigorous revision. But its root idea 
holds. It is the only one that covers humanity, 
that accounts for its history, and gives to institu 
tions and governments their true basis." 

Here was " ample room and verge enough " 
for the imagination of " J.B." to soar in audacious 
flights, and he let it soar to splendid purpose. 
What an age in which to study man ! 

" There never was an age so equipped for a study of 
humanity. In the light of modern knowledge we can no 
more accept unquestioned the earlier verdicts on this subject 
than we could accept the Ptolemaic astronomy. Of man s 
history as an animal and as a soul ; of his physiology and his 
psychology ; of the way in which his beliefs, his first theologies, 
came to him ; of the laws which have governed the develop 
ment of his mind, in the successive stages of his progress ; 
of his ethical history, the story of his falls, his recoveries, 
his crimes, his virtues ; of the value and action in him of 
the spiritual faculty, and the results offered by his world 
wide and age-long religious experiences in all these and 
other directions we have such a science of man as no past 
age could pretend to. And to that science our theology 
is bound to conform itself." 

Then what new views of Himself God is giving 
to us : 


The Books of "J.B." 

" This Divine self -revelation goes on, as we have said, 
according to a fixed law the law of growth. It is precisely 
according to our height that God opens Himself to us. Thus 
is it that we see a constant progress in the idea of God. A 
man s education, the age he belongs to, with its notions 
and prejudices, are his apparatus of observation. The 
difference in the apparatus makes all the difference in the 
object viewed. Jupiter to the naked eye is one thing ; 
quite another to spectrum analysis and the Lick telescope. 
Hence the God of the middle ages is impossible to us. The 
instruments were imperfect and so reported badly. Anselm s 
theory of the Atonement in his Cur Deus Homo offers 
us a deity with the sentiments of a mediaeval baron, jealous 
of personal honour, and determined to vindicate it with 
blood. The eleventh century deity is not ours. So, too, 
in the long, fierce centuries during which power, mere force, 
was regarded as of itself the supreme right, the source of all 
authority, and when remorseless cruelty was considered 
a mere detail of its exercise, the doctrine of hell, as an 
underground furnace whose torturing flames enwrapped 
myriads of victims through all eternity, seemed natural enough. 
In the Roman Church this view appears still to subsist, for 
we read in a recent Jesuit book that sinners in hell have 
asbestos souls to ensure their burning for eternity. " 

Let the appeal to men and women of the age 
be boldly made, and there will be a response, 
for even oar age is not necessarily graceless. 

" The supreme want of our time is a spiritual teaching, 
which, addressed with fearless impartiality to our upper, 
our middle, and our working classes, shall, with irrefutable 
argument and irresistible appeal, urge them to inner improve 
ment as the indispensable accompaniment of any external 
advance. This teaching must be adapted to the new thought 
conditions. It must, above all, be a teaching that shall 
capture the imagination of the young. One of the leading 
features of it should be the creation in their minds of an intense 

J. Brierley 

sense of social obligation. They should be taught to realise, 
as their great initial lesson, their debt to life. This, indeed, 
is the old evangelic doctrine of grace, presented in the form 
which the new generation can understand and appreciate. 
But in the old theologic phraseology it would be to multitudes 
repugnant and meaningless. But there is a way of putting 
it which will make it plain enough and impressive enough 
to every youth and maiden of common understanding. 

The doctrine to be taught, we say, is a doctrine of grace, 
and of a commensurate indebtedness. There is a huge account 
against us, which, if we possess a spark of honour, we shall 
want, as far as we can, to repay. We are where we are and 
what we are because of boundless benefactions bestowed 
upon us by invisible helpers. It would be the death blow, 
one would think, both of cynicism and of pessimism, if people, 
instead of accepting what they possess to-day as a thing 
of course, would take the trouble to trace the process by 
which it has come to be theirs. We should see then, if we 
never saw it before, that a Cross is signed upon all things, 
that we live by a system of vicarious sacrifice." 

The dauntless and cheery soul of " J.B." is felt 
in a passage which we have only to read the extracts 
from his Journal to know is refined gold poured 
from the crucible of his own deepest experience. 

"Whatever the situation, our happiness to-day is to an 
enormous an extent in our own hands. A man is happy 
when he thinks he is. And why should I not this morning 
think so ? Why should I be gloomy when I can be glad ? 
Here inside me is a force that can drive away the clouds. 
Our will power, which can call up good thoughts and disperse 
bad ones ; which can concentrate on the lighted side of 
things ; which can fall back on gracious memories as a 
refuge from present evils; which, in a word, can make its 
own weather, winning through thickest clouds to the blue 
sky and shining sun our will power, we say, if we will only 
use it, is our philosopher s stone, that turns all things into 


The Books of "J.B." 

gold. The more we give it to do the better it works. 
Adversity braces it as the Styx hardened Achilles." 

There is an essay very rich in human sympathy 
and the fruits of the widest reading on " Friends 
and Friendship." " J.B." believed in early friend 
ships kept at a glow through life. 

" The best friendships, as a rule, are those that begin young. 
Life s iron is then fire-hot, and we weld easily. And the 
special happiness here is that, properly managed, these unions 
are often for all the years. In the college common room 
we stumble upon a brother soul which vibrates responsive 
to our own, and now, after three or four decades, and when 
we are almost at the end of the journey, the music is still 
going on. Our careers have been wide apart, our fortunes 
different, our meetings, perhaps, infrequent ; and yet the mere 
sense that our friend is yonder, thinking his thoughts and 
doing his work, is a strength and a companionship to us. 
How much so, we shall know when he has gone. A soulful 
intimacy of this kind acquires an ever better flavour with the 
years. And here it is that a mere self-seeking ambition 
defeats itself in the search for the prizes of life. In the rush 
for worldly advancement our pusher, eager for more brilliant 
aliances, drops his old friends, or, what is worse, adopts towards 
them an attitude of condescension. What he has gained 
in this process we will not inquire. We know what he has 
lost. Such a man has no friends. To apply this title to his 
new entourage would be too cynical. And the friendless 
man, whatever height he has climbed to, is surely a being to 
be pitied." 

After one of his frequent breakdowns he tastes 
life again with fresh zest, and characteristically 
mints gold even out of his illness. In an essay, 
" On Being 111," he says : 

"Nature takes pains to show that weakness and suffering 
are not her first intentions concerning us. We are on the 


J. Brierley 

track of our ailments, and see from what preventible causes 
many of them have sprung. There is that unknown ancestor 
of ours whose excesses saddled his descendants, ourselves 
included, with perhaps a whole family of diseases. We 
should so like to have a word with that gentleman 1 But 
not to be too hard upon him. For aught we know his excess 
lay in being too moral instead of not moral enough. Perhaps 
he was an ascetic who starved himself on principle, or a 
student who burnt too much midnight oil, or a philanthropist 
who tainted his blood by visiting fever-haunted hovels. 
Probably he was quite other than that, but give him at least 
the benefit of the doubt." 

The personal note is very traceable also in the 
concluding essay, " Remainders," another of his 
finest inspirations. He says : 

" There are few severer tests than physical defect, but 
it is only small souls that sink under them. Tie large nature 
makes of them stepping stones. It is, for instance, a reflection 
full of optimism to note how men of fewest inches, deprived 
of that element of power which comes from commanding 
stature, have, spite the lack, by sheer energy of mind, become 
the great swayers of destiny. What a tiny man was Lord 
John Russell ! Yet he led the House of Commons, and was 
Prime Minister of England. Napoleon was almost a dwarf. 
Agesilaus and Alexander were under the middle height. In 
other regions of influence, note Montaigne, Spenser, Barrow, 
Pope, Steele, Watts, Wesley, all meagre of body. How 
they bulk to-day in the world of thought and deed ! Nor, 
when we are of the right temper, will the advance of years, 
with whatsoever physical shearings and loppings it may bring, 
put us off from the business of inner progress. Cato learned 
Greek at sixty ; it was at the same age Robert Hall took 
up Italian, that he might read Dante. In his eightieth 
year Michael Angelo, walking in Rome, on being asked 
the reason of his expedition, replied, That I may learn 
something. " 


The Books of "J.B." 

To Cato and Robert Hall, in the penultimate 
sentence, he might have added " J.B." Hebrew, 
Greek, Latin and French he had known from quite 
early manhood, but the German literature he 
knew, at fifty, only through the veil of translation. 
This did not satisfy his eager soul. He must get 
soul to soul with the Germans in their own lan 
guage, for there was personality in their words as 
actually spoken and written. So, half-way between 
fifty-five and sixty, " J.B." set to work on German, 
and for eighteen months he was worrying at 
grammars, vocabularies, annotated editions, in 
trains and trams, and every five minutes he could 
abstract from anything else was given to German. 
He had his exceeding great reward, for at the end 
of the year and a half he was reading with ease 
and enjoyed not only Goethe, Lessing, Schiller and 
Heine, but such Teutonic nuts to crack as Kant and 
Hegel, and quotations from German writers began 
to flow as unconsciously from his pen as those from 
his soul companions of other tongues. 

The going to school with the Germans at fifty- 
five is only another illustration of the flesh and 
blood reality that made Jonathan Brierley " J.B." 
His books, with all their intellectual power, were 
always more out of his heart than his head ; all 
his counsels were the outcome of his personal ex 
perience ; he tested and tried all his teaching on 
himself before he set out to teach others. That 
was what his readers instinctively felt, and so 
it was that his essays and books made his readers 
his grateful disciples. 



The Art of Quotation 
Leaves from "J.B.V Note-books 

THE quotations with which " J.B." illustrated 
and spiced his essays were regarded by a great 
many readers as a most relishable ingredient of his 
work. He was no pedant. He never quoted for 
the sake of quotation, but because, like the poet s 
" numbers," the quotations "came." In his reading 
he had always a keen eye for a striking fact, a thing 
well said, a revelation of personality, anything 
that added to his knowledge of human nature, 
or cast a sidelight on religion in any of its aspects. 
He did not want to forget a thing that had struck 
him, and so followed Captain Cuttle s counsel 
When found make a note of." The mere making 
a note of it seemed to impress it on his memory, 
for the Rev. Harold Brierley says he did not think 
his father often referred to his Note-books. " Where 
on earth do you get your quotations ? " was a 
question often asked by his friends. His Note-books 
show, to some extent, by enabling one to follow 
his courses of reading, but a very striking thing in 
these books is that one quotation almost always 
seems to suggest others, and it is followed by a 
catena of quotations from the most extraordinary 


The Art of Quotation 

variety of sources. Scores of these catenae suggest 
essays of which they would have made the fortune. 
Every bookman rejoices in quotations. Dr. 
Johnson said that Robert Burton s " Anatomy 
of Melancholy "stuffed with Latin quotations 
from a host of little known or quite forgotten 
authors was the only book that kept him awake 
in bed. The seventeenth century preachers 
Anglican and Nonconformist peppered their ser 
mons thickly with quotations in Greek and Latin 
not alone from the Bible, but from the classic writers. 
It is to be feared that many of these preachers, 
when read at all, are read more for the sake of the 
quotations than for themselves. Jeremy Taylor s 
readers never cease to wonder at his inexhaustible 
flow of quotations in Greek and Latin. What 
the congregations thought of them is another thing. 
No more entertaining reading has been provided 
for the bookman during the last quarter of a century 
than the parts of The Oxford English Dictionary, 
which illustrates each word with a series of quo 
tations in chronological order. The art of quotation 
was much better understood in more leisurely days 
than it is now, for it is largely the art of the well- 
stored, orderly, retentive memory, and of the 
talent of mental concentration in reading. We 
read too much and we remember too little, and 
if we want a quotation we have to hunt it up. 
" J.B." knew how to read, he subjected his mind 
to the sternest discipline, and so his sheaves of 
quotations grew, and were always at his disposal, 
with or without the note-books. 


J. Brierley 

At first he did not translate quotations in other 
languages. That greatly distressed readers, and 
tearful letters came, especially from ladies, implor 
ing him to condescend to their weakness and supply 
translations. He steeled himself for a time against 
such appeals but at last yielded to gentle pressure. 
One of his minister friends, an Oxford man, very 
bookish, humorously accused him of " invent 
ing quotations, and then palming them off on 
to people nobody ever heard of, so that we cannot 
find you out." 

A score of note-books of his quotations were 
among the material placed at my disposal by his 
son. They are little penny black-covered books, 
three inches by two, such as would go in a waist 
coat pocket. It is astonishing how much, in his 
blinding handwriting, with his contraction devices, 
" J.B." gets into every one of these books, which 
are numbered in order on the covers. They cover 
the period pretty well from the Neuchatel years 
to nearly the end. If the note-books, carefully 
edited, could be published in a volume, the book 
would be one of the most prized in any biblio 
phile s library, and it would be a veritable diamond 
mine to the preacher. It was impossible to 
resist the temptation to transcribe specimens, 
taken at random from note-books as they were 
picked up. 

Fiske, " Struggle for Existence " : 
Battles far more deadly than those of Gettys 
burg or Gravelotte have been incessantly waged on 


The Art of Quotation 

every square mile of the earth s life-bearing surface, 
since life first began. 

Naturalists classify more than two million species 
of plants and animals. 

Modern science justifies the guess of Democritus 
that " all the senses are modifications of touch." 

"Consciousness is an orderly succession of changes 
a succession of changes arranged and combined 
in special ways." 

Note explanation of instinct and association of 
ideas by nerve channels. In instinct they are 
made in the embryo and so the intuitions would 
run through a ready-made channel. In associa 
tion of ideas the channels are in close relation 
to each other, so the nerve discharge affects 
both together. 

All knowledge is a classification of experi 
ences, and every act of knowledge is an act of 

Says Bagehot : " One of the greatest pains to 
human nature is the pain of a new idea." 

Think you this mould of hopes and fears 
Could find no statelier than his peers 
In yonder hundred million spheres ? 

Goethe " Im Ganzen, Guten, Wahren, resolut 
zu leben." 

Comte s predictions. In seven years the control 
of public education was to be given to France. 
In twelve years the Emperor Napoleon was to 
resign in favour of a Comtist Triumvirate. In 
thirty-three years the religion of Humanity was 


J. Brierley 

to be definitely established (cf. this with C. Fourier s 
predictions about his phalanstery system). 

One authentic instance recorded in the case of 
a man brought out for execution in India in which 
the change of colour (of hair) so rapid that it was 
perceptible to the eye. 

Kissing is not innate. 

Mr. H. Wedgwood explains kneeling and uplifted 
hands in prayer by the attitude of suppliant captives, 
who offer hands to be bound by the victor. 

Louis XVI., when surrounded by a fierce mob, 
said " Am I afraid ? Feel my pulse." 

Monkeys, some seem to laugh or to approach 
to it, and even to smile. (Darwin). 

Expression of the Emotions. In cauda venenum. 

Old negro during a Charleston earthquake. 
" Good Lawd, come and help us ! Oh, come now ! 
And come yo self, Lawd, taint no time for boys." 

Sir Thomas Browne : " A man should be something 
that men are not, and individual in somewhat 
beside his proper name." 

Milton : " He who would not frustrate of his 
hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, 
ought himself to be a true poem." 

Who are modest because they continually 
compare themselves, not with other men, but with 
that idea of the perfect which they have before 
their mind." 

Idea of friendship, of human value, in Gray s 
friend Nicholls, who after Gray s death to his 
mother : 


The Art of Quotation 

You know that I considered Mr. Gray as a 
second parent, that I thought only of him, built all 
my happiness on him, talking of him for ever, 
wanted him with me wherever I partook of any 
pleasure, and flew to him for refuge whenever I 
felt any uneasiness. At present I feel that I 
have lost half of myself." 

Pope spoke of " that long disease, my life." 

Gray on Melancholy : 

" But there is another sort, black indeed, that 
has something in it like Tertullian s rule of faith, 
Credo quia impossibile est. For it believes, nay, 
is sure of everything that is unlikely, so it be but 
frightful ; and on the other hand excludes and 
shuts its eyes to the most possible hopes, and 
everything that is pleasurable." 

Says Keats : " Men should bear with each 
other ; there lives not the man who may not be 
cut up, lashed to pieces, on his weakest side." 

Voltaire : " No nation has treated in poetry 
moral ideas with more energy and depth than 
the English nation." 

Byron : " Give me a Republic. The King 
times are fast finishing ; there will be bloodshed 
like water and tears like mist, but the people will 
conquer in the end. I shall not live to see it, but 
I foresee it." 

M. Arnold on Shelley : " Beautiful and ineffec 
tual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings 
in vain." 

Christopher North : Says Southey, Coleridge, 
Wordsworth not to be compared with Pope. 



J. Brierley 

Says Dr. Johnson : " I am sorry that prize 
fighting has gone out. Every art should be 
preserved, and the art of defence is surely important." 

C. North, of Wordsworth : " My God, to com 
pare such a poet with Scott and Byron ! " 

Says " I care not a single curse for all the criti 
cism that was ever canted or decanted or recanted." 

" I have heard Coleridge. That man is entitled 
to speak on till Doomsday or rather the genius 
within him for he is inspired." 

" It was Burke who vindicated the claims of 
smells to the character of the sublime and 

Abusus non tollit usum. 

Plotinus, 204-269 A.D., when, after a long time 
spent in different philosophical schools, was taken 
to school of Saccas Ammonius, on hearing him, 
exclaimed " This is the man I am seeking ! " 

S. Ammonius been poor man, and had followed 
trade of a porter, but his wisdom drew round him 
some of the great minds of the time. 

Emperor Gallienus proposed to rebuild an imperial 
city and call it Platonopolis, to be administered by 
him on the principles of Plato s Republic. Proposed 
this under the influence of Plotinus. 

Last words of Plotinus: " I am striving with all 
my might to return the divine part of me to the 
Divine whole which fills the universe." 

Porphyrius 233-305 circa at Athens was a 
man of such learning that he was regarded as a 
kind of living library or walking study. 


The Art of Quotation 

It is said Plotinus tracked Porphyry once when 
as a young man he was voluntarily dying of 
hunger. " With wealthy store of comfortable 
words he recalled his soul just ready to take flight 
from his body, and strengthened his body to receive 
his soul." 

Dr. Stocker says of Germany : " Protestantism 
is sick, sick unto death. In the north and north 
east the friends of Christianity are among the 
aristocracy and among the peasants ; while the 
middle classes, the educated, industrious, commer 
cial people, are with few exceptions opposed to the 
Church ; the working men of the towns, belonging 
as they often do to the Social Democratic party, 
being necessarily hostile." 

Pastor Ernest Fiirster says: "In Mecklenburg, 
Pomerania and the most of Brandenburg, that 
is, most of the purely Protestant parts of Germany, 
the Church is dead." 

Augustine in the Soliloquies speaks of God as 
" the country of the soul." 

Malebranche : " God is the place of spirits, as 
space is the place of bodies." 

To see the world in a grain of sand, 
And a heaven in a wild flower ; 
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand 
And eternity in an hour. 

Joubert : "To live is to think and to feel one s 
soul ; all the rest, eating, drinking, etc., are only 
the preparations for living, the means of supply. 
I should myself, if there were no need of them, 


J. Brierley 

willingly give up all these and do very well without 
a body, if one left me my soul." 

Someone said of Joubert that he had " the air 
of a soul, which had by chance encountered 
a body and was doing the best he could with it." 

Joubert expressed it as his one desire to put 
a book into a page, a page into a phrase, and the 
phrase in one word." 

He thinks you must sometimes be obscure to 
mount to the sublime. " In order to read the 
skies one must pass through the clouds/ 

The great Buddhist King Asoka, his idea of 
religion, says in the " Inscriptions of Piyadasi," (his 
other name) : 

" Religion is an excellent thing. But what is 
Religion ? Religion is the least possible evil, much 
good, piety, charity, veracity, and also purity of life." 

Asoka on Toleration. " We must not extol our 
own sect and deny others ; we must not underrate 
others without legitimate cause ; we must rather, on 
every occasion, render to other sects the honour 
they merit." 

To his ( Asoka s) sons and grandsons. " They 
must not think that conquests by means of arrows 
deserve the name of conquests ; they are but 
disturbances and violence. The conquests of 
religion alone are real conquests ; they hold good 
for this world and the next." 

Father Taylor : " It may be that Emerson is going 
to hell, but of one thing I am certain he will change 
the climate there, and emigration will set that way." 


The Art of Quotation 

From a Persian writer : " How can we know a 
prophet ? By his giving you information regarding 
your own heart." 

Sainte Beuve on the true classic : " An author 
who has enriched the human spirit, who has really 
augmented its treasure, who has enabled it to take 
another step forward, who has discovered some 
genuine truth of morals, and seized afresh some 
eternal passion of the heart in which everything 
seemed known and explored ; who has rendered 
his thoughts, his observations, his discovery in a 
form varied it may be, yet with breadth and grandeur, 
with strength and delicacy, noble and beautiful in 
itself ; who has spoken to all in a style of his own, 
yet a style which belongs to the world, in a style new 
without neologism, new and old, easily the contem 
porary of all ages." 

" There is no receipt for making classics." 

Rousseau said of his Confessions that the book 
" was a point of comparison for the study of the 
human heart, and that it is the only one that exists." 

Ste. Beuve says Rousseau was the first who put 
green fields into French literature. 

Rousseau on a country walk : " Walking has 
something which animates and stirs my ideas. I 
can hardly think when I am still. I need a bodily 
motion to set my soul in motion. The views of the 
country, the succession of pleasant prospects, the 
open air, the good appetite, the good health I gain by 
walking, the liberty of the inn, the distance from 
everything which reminds me of my dependence, 
from everything which recalls my personal situation 


J. Brierley 

to me : all this frees my spirit, gives audacity to my 
thought, throws me, as it were, into the immensity 
of things, which I can combine, choose from, 
appropriate according to my liking, without trouble 
and without fear. I act as master of all nature." 

Said Camille Desmoulins : " Death extinguishes 
all rights. It is for us who now exist, who are now 
in possession of this planet, to give the laws to it in 
our turn." (" France Libre "). 

He speaks of " Le sansculotte Jesus." 

Taine at twenty says : 

" My only desire is to improve myself, in order 
to be worth a little more every day, and to look 
within myself without displeasure." 

" Being a true Sybarite, I am going to sweep 
and garnish this inward dwelling, and to set up in 
it some true ideas, some good intentions, and a 
few sincere affections." 

On Perfection. " I know that it does not exist 
in the human race, and that if anything approaches 
it, it is not woman but man, so that my ideal would 
be rather friendship than love." 

The sight of mutilated human nature, the 
necessity of only loving others and oneself by 
halves, this radical vice of the nature of man, who, 
wounded in his innermost being, drags his incurable 
hurt always with him. Time opens to him all 
this moves me, like the sight of ships in danger 
on the sea." 

" I think a man s position should correspond 
to his value." 

" My only consolation is that the game will 

The Art of Quotation 

only last forty or fifty years at most, and that at 
the end of it all is rest; eternal sleep, I hope." 

" I am proud that other men s amusements 
do not amuse me." 

" Education is but a card of invitation to these 
noble and privileged salons." (That is, to the great 
minds of the world). 

" It is not from Christianity I would turn you, 
but from impiety. To debase God is impiety." 

" Religion, though one, differs with different 
minds. Some interpret it well, and on it seed 
generous feelings, exalted hopes, great thoughts. 
Other falsify it, and make it a routine of kneeling, 
processions, penances, vows, ridiculous practices, 
tending to destroy health, to injure the intelligence, 
and to banish piece of mind." 

Music, as Luther used to say, " is the finest 
thing in the world after theology." 

" The more I see of nature and the fields, the 
better I love them ; they seem to have more intelli 
gence, more soul than man." 

Heraclitus of Ephesus (B.C. 500) : "All human 
laws are fed from the one Divine law." 

Hegel, by his dialectic, proved (as he thought) 
a priori that there were seven planets, which after 
science has shown to be incorrect. 

Augustine : " Virtutes ethnicorum splendida vitia." 

Hazlitt : " To have seen Mrs. Siddons was an 
event in one s life." 

" Poetry is not a branch of authorship ; it is 
the stuff of which life is made." 


J. Brierley 

Of Coleridge : " His genius at this time had 
angelic wings and fed on manna. He talked on 
for ever, and we wished him to talk on for ever." 

Of Scott : " His works, taken together, are almost 
like a new edition of human nature." 

" There is an old tradition human nature, 
an old temple the human mind, and Shakespeare 
walks into it and looks about him with a lordly 
eye, and seizes on the sacred spoils as his own." 

" The vivida vis of the poet." 

Tertullian : " But Venus and Bacchus are close 

" Unquestionally the soul existed before letters, 
and speech before books, and ideas before the 
making of them, and man himself before the poet 
and the philosopher." 

" Man is the one name belonging to every nation 
upon earth ; there is one soul and many tongues, 
one spirit and various sounds ; every country has 
its own speech, but the subjects of speech are 
common to all. God is everywhere, and the good 
ness of God is everywhere." 

Scott, Heart of Midlothian : " Without entering 
into an abstract part of divinity, one thing is plain, 
viz. : that the person who lays open his doubts 
and distresses in prayer, with feeling and sincerity, 
must necessarily, in the act of doing so, purify 
his mind from the dross of worldly passions and 
interests, and bring it into that state when the resolu 
tions adopted are likely to be selected rather 
from a sense of duty than from any inferior motive." 

Balzac, Peau de Chagrin : 


The Art of Quotation 

" Our ideas were complete, organised beings, 
which lived in an invisible world, and had power 
on our destinies." 

tf Catholicism puts a million gods in a sack of 

" Women will have emotions at any price." 

" Hate is a tonic ; it revives, it inspires venge 
ance ; but pity kills, it enfeebles even our feeble 


Captain Parker Gilmore s The Great Thirst 
Land speaks thus of J. M. Mackenzie s Sunday 
afternoon service at Stosburg, South Africa : " In 
my early life I had regarded religion lightly, but 
when I looked upon half-a-dozen stalwart men 
accustomed to every hardship and danger of 
life, our worthy pastor s children, and a few servants, 
giving their whole soul to what they were engaged 
in, I more forcibly felt than ever I did before, that 
there was a great God above us One who wanted 
our adoration and love. That was the most solemn 
Sunday I ever passed. No coat of hypocrisy 
was here ; what I heard was an exhortation from 
an earnest, true, reflective man, endeavouring to 
make his fellow creatures feel the depth and height 
of religion, and the consolation they could derive 
from it." 

"Alone, to land alone upon that shore, 
To begin alone to live for evermore ; 
To have no one to teach 
The manners, or the speech, 
Of that new life, or put us at our ease ; 
Oh ! that we might die in pairs or companies ! " 

J. Brierley 

" Has your child been baptised ? " said a West 
country rector to a woman. " Well, Sir, I should 
not like to say as much as that, but your young 
man, he came round and did what he could/ 

Said Jowett of the English clergy : 

" Is there any reason to think that if the clergy, 
with their present intolerance, ignorance, narrow 
ness, and love of pious frauds, could succeed to 
the utmost of their wishes, they would produce 
any other revival than such an one as seems to be 
going on in France four out of five women semi- 
Catholics, four out of five men semi-infidels ? " 

Charles Lamb : " Don t introduce me to that 
man. I want to hate him, and one cannot hate 
a man one knows." 

Richard Sibbes says : " Gracious men are public 
treasures, storehouses wherein every man hath a 
store or portion. They are public springs in the 
wilderness of this world to refresh the souls of the 

Marquis de Vauvenargues, born 1715, died 1747. 
One of his sayings, " Les grandes pensees viennent 
du coeur." So Quintilian Book IV. of oratory. 
" Pectus est quod disertos finit, et vis mentis." 
Frederick the Great. " II faut prendre 1 esprit 
de son etat," wrote he to Voltaire. Wrote also 
to him, " Every man has a wild beast in him," 
said he : " It is not given to every one to make 
the soul laugh " " de faire rire 1 esprit." 

Said Bolingbroke of Marlborough : " He was 
so great a man that I have forgotten his vices." 


The Art of Quotation 

Montaigne on Age : " I have seen a great shooting 
of flowers and of fruit. Now I see la secheresse. 
I see it happily, for it is natural. " 

Boileau once said about Conde, after a difference 
with him, " Henceforth, I shall always be of the 
prince s opinion ; especially when he is wrong." 
Royal Prerogative. Verse of Madame de Maine : 
C qui chez les mortals est une effronterie 
Entre nous autres demi-dieux n est qu une galanterie. 

Louis XL once said to his Parliament, if they 
refused to pass a certain ordinance, he would put 
them to death. The Parliament appeared before 
him. Asked what they wanted, " Death, Sire," 
replied the President, " the death you have decreed, 
as we are resolved to choose that rather than 
pass your edict against our consciences." 

La Rochefoucauld has denned the gravity of 
certain people as " a mystery of the body invented to 
conceal their defects of the mind " " Une mystere 
du corps invente pour cacherles defauts de 1 esprit." 

St. Simon : " How inferior are the pleasures 
of the sense to those of the mind." 

Of Diderot as critic, seems good everywhere. 
"He found gold in the crucible like an alchemist; 
he had put it there." 

Diderot on Seneca s Treatise " On Brevity 
of Life," where in Chapter III. he says, " Pass in 
review your days and years, take account of them ! 
Say how often you have allowed them to be stolen 
by a creditor, a mistress, a patron, a client. How 
many people have been allowed to pillage your life, 
while you were not even aware you were being 

J. Brierley 

robbed ! " Diderot wrote on this : "I have never 
read this without blushing ; it is my history." 

Noble word of Diderot : "A pleasure which is 
only for myself is brief and touches me only lightly. 
It is for myself and my friends that I read, that 
I reflect, that I write, that I meditate, that I under 
stand and study and feel. I think continually of their 
happiness. A fine line strikes me they shall have it. 
Have I met a noble sentiment? They shall share 
it. Have I under my eyes some fine spectacle? I 
meditate a description of it for their enjoyment." 

Fontenelle, remarking on the human way of 
thinking the world made for them only, says : 
" We are like a certain Athenian lunatic of whom 
mention is made who imagined that every vessel 
that entered Piraeus belonged to him." 

Condorcet thought that human longevity would 
go on indefinitely increasing. 

Daguesseau, noble fellow, born 1668, gentleman, 
scholar and Christian. He spoke thus of his 
father, also fine fellow, in his biography of him. 
" Naturally of a quick temper," he says of him, 
" one saw him redden and become silent at the 
moment ; the noble port of his soul allowing 
the first fire to pass without a word said in order 
to re-establish straightway that inner calmness 
and tranquillity which reason and religion had 
combined to make the habit of his soul." 

Fine subject of sermon by Bossuet : " The 
love of oneself pushed to the point of contempt 
of God " (mepris de Dieu " ) and " Love of God 
pushed to the point of contempt of oneself." 


The Art of Quotation 

Aristotle said a man should rule his slaves as a 
despot, his children as a king, and his wife as a 
magistrate, in a free state. 

In China a woman has three obediences. When 
young she obeys her parents, when married her 
husband, when a widow her son. 

The Greek Church, contrary to Rome, allows 

Power of names. In the Egyptian " Book of 
the Dead," the first thing the deceased says to 
Osiris is " I know thee, and I know thy name, 
and I know the names of two and forty gods who 
live as warders of sinners and who feed on their 
blood." Knowing their names, he has magic power 
over them. 

The Buddhist Eight-fold Path : Right views, right 
aspirations, right spirit, right conduct, right will, right 
effort, right mindf illness and right contemplation. 

The Eight Precepts : Not to destroy life, not 
to take what is not given, not to tell lies, not to 
become drinkers of intoxicants, not to have unlaw 
ful social intercourse, not to eat unseasonable food 
at nights, not to use garlands or use perfumes, to 
sleep on a mat spread on the ground. 

Confucius: Ke Loo asked him about death. 
Answer : " While you do not know life, how can 
you know about death ? " Says Confucius : " With 
coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my 
bended arm for my pillow, I still have joy in the 
midst of these things." 

Dr. Pusey, at his death, 1859, as his last act 
threw up his arms and cried, as if with surprised 


J. Brierley 

recognition, " Sister ! Sister ! " The vision seemed 
to be of his sister Elizabeth, who died at Manchester, 
seventy years before, cf. Macaulay s death. Scott 
died 1832. 

Says Dr. Q. : "I have passed more of my life 
in absolute and unmitigated solitude, voluntarily, 
and for intellectual purposes, than any person of 
my age, or that I have either met with, heard of, 
or read of." Born 1785. 

Milton, Areopagiticus : " For books are not dead 
things, but do contain a progeny of life in them 
to be as active as that soul was whose progeny 
they are ; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the 
purest efficacy and extraction of the living intellect 
that bred them." 

Toland found no authority in the Fathers, " who 
thought as little of becoming a rule of faith to 
their posterity as we to ours." 

Locke s " Reasonableness of Christianity " appeared 
in 1695, Toland s " Christianity not Mysterious " 
in 1696, Collins s " Discourses of Free Thinking " 
in 1713. Says he : " The prophets were Free 
Thinkers, while Judaism was simply a religion of 
priests and institutions." 

Owen, " Problems of Faith and Freedom," 
says that at the end of the eighteenth century, 
" English theology was in Germany in those days 
what German theology is in England to-day. 
Baumgartner seems to have reviewed almost every 
Deist and apologetic work in our language. The 
translation of Sherlock s Trial of Witnesses 
reached thirteen editions." 


The Art of Quotation 

Lessing wrote to a friend : " The more con 
vincingly one party would convince me of Christian 
ity the more I doubt ; the more wantonly the other 
would trample it to the ground, the more I feel 
inclined to uphold it, at least in my heart." 

Kant s " Religion within the Limits of Reason," 
issued in 1792, says, " Man is not created good, 
but to be good. The Son of God is humanity in 
its moral perfection. An ideal humanity, which 
is only worthy the Divine goal of perfection, is 
in God from all eternity, the image of God s glory, 
a begotten Son, not a created thing." 

Schleiermacher s Reden, published 1799. Full 
title : " On Religion : Speeches to its Cultured 
Disciples." Schleiermacher s great mistake in 
addressing only the cultured and in thinking the 
toiling masses incapable of the best religious con 
ceptions. " The pressure of material and unworthy 
tasks, under which millions of both sexes and all 
ranks sigh, makes them incapable of the free glance 
with which the Divine can be found." It is really 
among such that the deepest religion has been found. 
Schleiermacher urges that the thing to be desired 
is that "both activities, self-surrender and self- 
realisation, should be at once invigorated and 
reconciled." Towards that object we can only 
be forwarded by those prophetic souls who have 
found God without losing themselves. 

" We see in the human soul on one hand the 
endeavour by absorbing what is around it to 
get its own sustenance and increase, to establish 
itself as an individual ; and on the other the endea- 


J. Brierley 

vour to avoid the dread feeling of standing over 
against the universe and by surrendering itself to 
be absorbed in a star." 

Empedocles, in a fragment of a poem which has 
come down to us, speaks of himself as " An exile and 
with orders from God, bondsman of insensate strife, 
for I have been ere now a boy and a girl, a bush and 
a bird, and a glittering fish in the sea." 

" Neither positive nor negative electricity can be 
produced without producing an equal amount of the 
other." Negative electricity is always invariable. 
Gases made subject of experiment, while impossible 
with electricity. Scientists always busy with nature 
of gas. 

Atom smallest chemical part of an element. 
Molecule smallest of " compound/ 

The Brahmin believes in reincarnation of all human 
beings ; Buddhist of humans carrying on their 
Karma. Buddha s dying words, " That which is spirit 
will all return to nothingness." The closing com 
ment of Gautama s biographer : " To sense joys of 
after life, this is world s chief joy. To add the pain 
of other births, this is the world s worst sorrow. 
Buddha, escaped from the pain of birth, shall have 
no joy of the hereafter. He has shown the way 
to all the world who would not reverence and 
adore him." 

Father Duggan says, " Papal authority was never 
stretched so far in any country as here in England. 
For the Pope was at the time liege lord of England, 
he levied a tax in England, he appointed to benefices 


The Art of Quotation 

in England, he sent Italians over to rob the English 

Every Catholic Order has its special devotion 
thus the Carmelites have the Scapular, the Domin 
icans the Rosary, the Franciscans the Portiuncula. 

Many Egyptian maxims very like our Book of 
Proverbs. Those of Ptah-hotep for example. Go 
not out with a foolish man, nor stop to listen to his 

" Do not according to the advice of a fool." 

Among Egyptian moralists are Ptah-hotep, Antef 
and Amy. They are dead against gossip. Thus 
Amy " In keeping quiet thou wilt do best ; do 
not be a talker." 

Again " Guard thyself from sinning in words, that 
they may not wound ; a thing to be condemned in 
the breast of man is malicious gossip, which is never 

Amy " I have not given way to anxious care." 

It seems there is no idea of sin in the Egyptian 
moral code. Like the Greek in this. The Egyptian 
ideal was to be strong, steadfast, self-respecting, 
active and straightforward ; quiet and discreet ; 
avoiding covetousness and presumptuousness. Yet 
to avoid mercilessness and asceticism. 

Amy " There is no son to the chief of the 
treasury, there is no heir to the chief of the soul." 
Capital saying these things belong to ability, not 

Amy " There shall be no surprise to him who 
does well. He is prepared. Thus when the 



J. Brierley 

messenger shall come to take thee, he shall find one 
who is ready." 

In early Egypt the social system matriarchal. 
Women the treasurers and masters of the household 
to this day. 

Warnings against the strange woman just like 

Selden traces origin of tithes to John of Lycopolis, 
Egyptian monk to whom the people of the province 
brought a tenth of their produce, which he distributed 
to the poor. 

We recommend to modern prophets the idea of a 
Moslem Ulema, who, when all Egyptian Moslems, as 
well as Christians, were expecting the end of the 
world on the faith of a Christian prediction, June, 
1734, and the day came to an end, announced that he 
had succeeded in persuading the Almighty to hear 
his prayer and to put off the catastrophe. He 
thereby reaped honours and rewards. 

In his " De Iside et Osiride," Plutarch, under his 
third class of sources of religious belief, gives law and 
established custom. " Nomos," he says, is " religio 
institutus." "Nothing has become established, which, 
however irrational, mythical, superstitious it may 
appear, has not some moral and salutary reason, or 
some ingenious historical or physical explanation." 

Plutarch deprecates a too free handling of sacred 
things. " What an abyss of atheism opens before 
us, beneath us, if we resolve every deity into a 
passion, a power, or a virtuous activity." 

The " patrios kai palaia pistis." Plutarch, in his 


The Art of Quotation 

consolatory letter to his wife (Consolatio ad Uxorem 
612), on death of their little daughter, tries to show 
that those who die young will earlier feel at home in 
the other world than those whose long life on earth 
has habituated them to so different a condition 
from the beyond. 

Plutarch, in Boeotia in Augustine s time, recognises 
fully the benefits of Roman rule universal peace, 
toleration and liberty. 

Plutarch s " De Sera Numinis Vindicta " (" Delay 
of Divine Justice") is a wonderful plea. DeMaistre 
convinced such a vindication of Divine method must 
have been written by a Christian. Deals with the 
fact that virtues and vices seem to have no connection 
with prosperity, etc., in the world. He indicates 
here the doctrine of Ennius : 

Ego deum genus esse semper dixi et dicam coelitum, 
Sed nos non curare opinor quid agat humanum genus, 
Nam si curent, bene bonis sit, male malis, 
Quod nunc abest. 

He has here the fine idea that punishment does 
not, as Plato says, follow upon injustice, but, as he 
finds in Hesiod, the two are contemporaneous, and 
spring up from the same soil and root. Evildoers 
are tormented necessarily by some of their own 

He holds that the existence after death of the soul 
stands or falls with the providence of God. God 
would not take such trouble for us here if our souls 
were as brief in their bloom as delicate flowers. 

Plutarch s fine idea concerning the " daemon " 
of Socrates, that it was the influence of a superior 


J. Brierley 

intelligence and a diviner soul operating on the soul 
of Socrates, whose calm and holy temper fitted him 
"to hear this spiritual speech which, though filling 
all the air around, is heard only by those whose 
souls are freed from passion and its perturbing 
influence." (From the essay on " The Daemon of 

Says he also, " For it is not abundance of wine and 
well-cooked meats that gladdens our hearts in a 
religious festival ; it is our good hope and belief that 
God Himself is graciously present and approving 
our acts." 

In his " De Superstitione," he maintains that our 
unbelief in God is less mischievous than superstitious 
devotion. " The atheist does not see God at all, 
but the superstitious sees Him terrible instead of 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

It was soon recognised, after " J.B." came to The 
Christian World, that he was a power to be reckoned 
with. He forced men to read him, and he forced 
them to think about what they read. It was not only 
men of the Churches who read " J.B." He had his 
following among many who had dropped out of the 
Churches because of theological or other difficulties, 
but who had not found it easy to eliminate the 
religious instinct from their lives. Nothing delighted 
" J.B/ more than to receive letters from men whose 
faith had suffered shipwreck, or who were drifting on 
to reefs of unbelief. Such men had read one of his 
articles, had been struck by an idea or an argument 
that it contained ; they thought there was after all 
something to be said for faith, and not only from all 
parts of Great Britain, but from all the British 
Dominions and from Britons scattered in every part 
of the world, there came letters to "J.B." thanking 
him for his articles, stating doubts and difficulties, 
and asking if he could give any help in meeting the 
difficulties and clearing away the doubts. He used 
to say laughingly that he was Father Confessor to 
the people whose faith had failed, and he was 
splendidly gifted to act the part. He had sym- 


J. Brierley 

pathetic, intuitive understanding of the minds of 
these doubters. He knew just what forces had been 
at work to create their difficulties and to shatter their 
faith in the things they had been taught, but the 
truth of which had not been really demonstrated to 
them. He was no worshipper of the dead past any 
more than he was an idolater of the living present, 
but he would not turn his back on the past, which, 
indeed, he never considered dead, but very much 
alive, nor did he fear to face the difficulties of the 
living present. " J.B." was an eclectic in the sense 
that he believed in the continuity and the unity of 
humanity, and in the one foundation that underlies 
all the varieties of human experience. 

A lady at Willesden Green, suffering from ill health, 
and worried by difficulties alike as to God s existence 
and His real Fatherly concern for His human family, 
writes to " J.B." She has kindly sent me the letters 
in which he tries to meet her difficulties. They are 
dated April and December, 1909. 

"I cannot forbear a line, albeit a hurried one, in answer 
to yours. These are old difficulties. As to Who created 
the Creator ? the problem is in a line with a whole series 
all belonging to the relation of the finite to the infinite, and 
all clearly beyond human solution. The human reason breaks 
down here, and thus its incompetency to deal with them. 
I could give you quite a number of propositions belonging 
to this order, i.e., relating to finite and infinite, each one of 
which seems absolutely certain, but each of which is in 
absolute contradiction to some others. Kant and Hamilton, 
as well as other philosophers, have given pages of them. 
As a single illustration, mathematicians prove that a body 
may move from one point towards another, say a yard distant 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

shall move towards it at a given rate to infinite time, and 
yet never reach it. The reason at the same moment pro 
nounces this impossible, and yet also pronounces it possible. 
This all shows simply that at a certain height our mental 
machinery, taken by itself, is not equal to the solution of 
certain problems. 

"The difficulty you suggest is of this order. At a certain 
point you have to stop your ordinary thinking about cause 
and effect. The reason has got into too rarefied an atmo 
sphere. For instance, if we are evolutionists, at a certain 
point we have to stop. For there must be a starting point 
of the evolution, the bringing in of a force which evolution 
does not account for. The truth of religion, when it comes 
to this, has accordingly to rest itself not simply on the judg 
ments of the intellect, but also on what is deeper the instincts 
of the heart. As Pascal puts it, the heart has reasons which 
the reason knows not of. When all is said, faith has to take 
its leap. 

"I am glad to hear from you, but heartily wish you were 
able to write in a brighter strain. You find suffering your 
own and that of others a bar to believing in the love of 
God. I confess I have never been able to view it in that 
way. For long years I have been a stranger to health, and 
of late have been quite incapacitated from public work. And 
in my family life there have been many trials. But in all 
this my faith in God has been the great joy and support. I 
have never imagined God as sitting comfortably outside our 
sufferings. He is in them, a sharer, and that makes all the 
difference. About it all there is, of course, a deep, insoluble 
mystery, but faith, love, devotion, the highest things in 
us, are not to be stifled and destroyed because we cannot 
see through everything. I hold with Sir Oliver Lodge that 
our best and highest thoughts are likely to turn out the truest. 
Your dear mother, be sure, is in the right, with her faith and 
trust. That, after all, is the doctrine that works, and we are 
learning in these days to trust the doctrine that works best, 
that has the best results on character and life, as being in 
this way its own evidence. Remember that Christianity 


J. Brierley 

is built on a Cross ; its victorious faith is founded on 
what outwardly was the worst of catastrophes; the trium 
phant answer to all the blackness and devilry the world 
contains. It reached the bottom of human experience 
and cried from its depths that all was well. That is why 
it holds and ever will hold its place. 

"Pardon this hurried line. It comes from my desire to 
help you." 

To a West Bromwich gentleman, eighty-four at 
the time, who, risen from the position of a collier, had 
sent him notes of his earlier life, and the conditions 
then prevailing, " J.B." wrote two letters, in 1912. 
In the first he says : 

"You have had a remarkable career, one in which God s 
guidance has been distinctly shown. I may say that I have 
had similar ones from men who have begun life in the pits, 
and that leads me to realise what an amount of shrewd sense 
and genuine religious character are to be found among that 
great band of workers underground. It is a pleasure to 
me to know that my work has been helpful to you. I have 
similar assurances from various parts of the world, and they 
are amongst my best rewards as a writer. I want above all 
things to help my fellow travellers in the good way." 

In the second he says : 

" These were the bad old times indeed. 

"There is plenty that needs alteration yet, but at least we 
have made some progress. Your career shows, amongst other 
things, what grit and perseverance will do in the most seem 
ingly hopeless situations. Character is the thingthat conquers, 
and real religion is the thing that makes character." 

Enclosing a letter received from " J.B." in 1912, 
Mr. A. H. Harper, of Hull, says it was in reply to one 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

in which he criticised" J.B/s " article of March I2th, 
which partly dealt with the question of heredity in 
regard to certain characteristics of the individual soul 
and the spiritual nature of man. Mr. Harper 
" could not share his views entirely, neither can he 
agree with the arguments contained in his character 
istically kind reply," which he values very greatly. 
From Brighton, where he was taking a short " cure," 
" J.B." wrote :- 

"Your position is, of course, that of the Theosophists. I 
am fully aware of all the arguments used in defence of 
it, and I know that the view has been held by many noble 
minds. I do not wish in the least to dogmatise upon the 
question ; yet my own feeling is that the trend of facts is 
against it. Take again the case of John Wesley. Can you 
imagine him as the offspring of debased parents in a slum? 
Surely parenthood, its character and quality, had some 
thing to do with his character and quality ? We breed animals 
with a sure trust in the transmission of race characteristics. 
And we see the law in its applications to many slum children, 
born of diseased vicious parents, and inheriting their qualities. 
People living in good surroundings, possessing health and 
character, will, as a rule, have children possessing these things. 
There are, of course, exceptions ; occasionally we see a throw 
back to an earlier, ruder type. But the rule is there. If 
there were no such rule what reason should we have for 
exhorting our young people to live clean, godly lives, in view 
of the welfare of the future generation ? If the soul were 
independent of the parents, all the reasons for high morality 
in them would, so far as the children were concerned, be 
valueless. To me such a state of things would reflect far 
more on the Order of the Universe, on the Divine character, 
even than the other view. But I do not think it well for us 
to make this or that view of ours on the facts of lif e a criterion 
by which we may judge our God. We know too little about 
these matters to sit on the judgment seat." 


J. Brierley 

A lady in Scotland tells how on two occasions an 
essay of " J.B." came to her as a veritable voice from 
heaven with exactly the message she needed. Once 
she was fretful and discontented with the drudgery 
and humdrum of life in a country town after living in 
London and Glasgow and travelling in America and 
South Africa. Just at that time the answer came in 
his essay, " The Burden." On another occasion 
she had spent an evening at a friend s house playing 
bridge the usual game there and finished up by 
fortune-telling " in fun of course." She was put 
out and lost control of her temper and then, as at 
such times, her first thought was, " What would 
J.B/ think of that ? " To her amazement, next 
week appeared his essay, " The Something Added," 
which was her rebuke and her inspiration. She 
wrote to him about his essay on " The Evangelical 
Root." He stated that Atonement was not so 
much a separate act as a process. He promptly sent 
a reply in October, 1913 : 

"Dear Friend, I am glad to know that my writings have 
been helpful to you. I have no difficulty in answering your 
question. Most assuredly do I believe that the man Jesus 
Christ really lived and died and rose again. There is no more 
certain fact in history. All the talk about a non-historical 
Christ is, to me, too absurd for words. As to the quotation 
from my article. Creation, of course, is a process, an evolution, 
a perpetual development. So is Revelation. It opens on the 
world as the world reaches the power of receiving it. Atone 
ment really means at-one-ment, and in its highest meaning 
is the process by which man comes into his final union 
with God. And Salvation is also a process, never done at 
one stroke, either for the world or the individual ; though, 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

as in the other great process mentioned, there are outstanding 
points in the process. Christ and His work is the greatest 
point in them all. 

" I hope this explanation may be of some service. Keep 
fast hold of God and of His revelation in Christ. Here, in 
this strong tower, we may hide ourselves from all the storms 
of life." 

In a reply to a further letter, he said : 

"As to the differing accounts of the Resurrection, I have 
long given up attempting to reconcile them. What remains 
is that a great something happened, an immense spiritual 
event, of which these various chroniclers have attempted 
to give their account. The confusions in it are, after all, 
not more than those we find in historical events, the central 
fact of which nobody questions. For instance, the murder 
of Darnley the husband of Mary of Scots was an undoubted 
fact. But the accounts of it, given by people who profess 
to have been eye-witnesses, are absolutely contradictory. 
We have to judge between them and to construct the actual 
history as best we can. In the New Testament question we 
have, as Harnack puts it, to discriminate between the Resur 
rection stories and the Resurrection faith, We may take 
a discount from the former without losing the latter." 

An interesting series of letters written by " J.B." 
to Mrs. Annie Wright, of Sciennes Grove, Edinburgh, 
has been kindly sent by that lady. They cover the 
period from January I4th, 1903, to April 20th, 1912. 
In the first, he deals with the question of " the life 
beyond." He says : 

"Like you I have my personal stake there, in loved ones 
who have passed beyond sight. I may write more on this 
theme as light is given me. As to the inferior races well, 
inferiority is all a question of degree. To the higher intelli 
gences the best of us in this world may seem much lower 


J. Brierley 

down than is the savage in relation to ourselves. The future 
seems to me the realm of endless possibilities. I suppose the 
development, for the highest and the lowest of us, will begin 
where it left off. What science is proving for us is that in the 
realm both of matter and spirit, there seems no such thing 
as extinction. All endings are but new beginnings. We 
burn the coal in the grate. It has disappeared, but no frag 
ment is lost. It is simply a change. Personality seems the 
final cause and the end to which creation strives. And if 
the coal has not been destroyed in the fire-death that has 
happened to it, far less, we may well believe, is the greatest 
thing, a human personality, gone to nothingness in death. 
As to the mode of existence beyond, I am more and more 
inclined to think that our present blindness and deafness 
to messages from that other side is from the limitation of our 
present faculties. If only another window could be opened 
in the wall of our consciousness how much more of the universe 
should we see ! And probably humanity will develop these 
new faculties as it grows in spirituality. 

" On these questions I am glad to see that the researches 
of the late F. W. H. Myers, a man of the most brilliant abilities, 
and of a truly scientific mind and culture, who devoted the 
later years of his life to the thorough investigation of the after 
death problem, are shortly to be published under the title 
Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death. 
His conclusions, I believe, are that the fact of authentic messages 
from the beyond has now been scientifically proved. Mean 
time it is for us all to live the best life, to follow the Highest 
Model, and to hold on by faith on that road which leads to 
more and more of spiritual assurance." 

On March, I3th, 1910, he writes : 

"You mention some points that seem to you a difficulty. 
As to the birth stories of Matthew and Luke the farthest 
I have gone is to state the inadvisability of grounding our 
doctrine of the Divinity of Christ upon these narratives. 
That is not where Paul grounded his belief. What is good 
enough for Paul should be good enough for us. As to the 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

Resurrection, let us rest on the supreme fact that Christ is 
indeed risen ; is living and active in the spiritual world. With 
that to rest on, the question of His relation to material form 
is a minor detail which need not trouble us. 

"Of course we have all of us felt, and felt deeply, the 
difficulty raised by the verse you quote,* and similar 
ones, concerning the judgment and the future state. Some 
influential critics regard those chapters as fragments of a 
Jewish Apocalypse which has been adapted and incorpor 
ated into the Gospel. . . . 

" I do not doubt myself, with Origen, that just as the vege 
table takes up into itself the elements of the inorganic, and 
as the animal takes up the vegetable, so Christianity itself 
will in the course of the ages be taken up into new expressions 
suited to the times yet before us. It is undergoing that 
process now. In that process the merely outside earthly 
integuments will fall away ; but none of the essential will 
be lost. 

"As to everlasting fire and all that, it can never be other 
than symbolic. On these questions keep to this point : 
God is love, God is everywhere, and wherever He is He can 
only act according to His character. If He is everywhere, 
He must be as much in hell as in what we call heaven. And 
in hell He can only act in love. That is quite enough for me. 
We must trust our God all through if we trust Him at all." 

In October of the same year he writes : 

"What you Say about the article Is Christianity Passing ? 
makes me realise how badly I express myself at times. To 
suggest that Christ and Christianity are to be superseded 
was farthest from my thoughts. When I spoke of a thousand 
years hence, I meant the Christianity of that time would 
be as much further evolved as ours is from that of a thousand 
years back. As to that future life and future recognition 
question, I may write on it sometime. Let me say here that 
what seems to you so difficult to believe is to me not nearly 

* Matt. xxv. 41, 

J. Brierley 

so difficult as the things that have actually happened. Imagine 
a thinker unacquainted with our world being asked to believe 
that such a race as ours would be evolved out of matter. I 
think he would regard it as incredible, and yet here we are. 
When I think of the million improbabilities d priori against 
my being alive as I now am upon the earth this other 
question of continuing such a lif e seems quite a minor difficulty. 
We live in a universe of incredibles all of which have come 

Letter writers sometimes ask " J.B." to write on 
subjects of their suggestion, and the subjects are not 
always easy ones, as when a Congregational lay 
pastor, interested in Chemistry, invites him to follow 
up an essay on "Some Continuations" with another, 
" dealing with the fact that spiritual law is 
analogous to that of chemical affinity, in that aspect 
of it which deals with the exact proportions in which 
alone certain chemical substances combine." The 
correspondent, perplexed by the apparent absence of 
result from much honest and earnest spiritual work, 
suggests that " the very vagaries of electricity and 
of magnetism, under the strict control of absolute 
law, doubtless have their counterpart in the spiritual 

A Congregational minister would like him to write 
a series of articles on " Christ s Laws of Spiritual 

An Essex reader wanted him to deal with the 
question, " Was Jesus morally perfect ? " This 
question," he said, " haunts me perpetually." 

It was a heavy demand that some of his readers 
made on "J.B./ as the lady who, explaining she was 
" not a Congregationalist and not English," said : 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

"Perhaps you cannot conceive how one earthly note in 
your writings one instance of your feelings clouding your 
spiritual vision one indication of anything having come 
between you and pure thought and moral sentiment how 
anything of that kind would have depressed me and almost 
finished me at times. You have much reason to thank God 
for the beautiful restraint that has been granted you so that 
you have been able to give your readers wisdom unalloyed. 
Nothing helps the poor world like this speaking truth to 
it, real truth with healing in its wings, not bitter or sarcastic 
invectives or torrents of abuse wrongly regarded as speaking 
truth. You keep the " old man " out of your writings ; 
vanity, impulsiveness and prejudice you don t allow to enter 

A Stockholm lady, disappointed at finding " J.B." 
away from London when, on a visit to England, she 
had sought to thank him by word of mouth, 
writes : You have given me courage to live and 
die, alone as I am in the world, and I hope you 
will still write many books to show us the way." 

Admirers of each other s work were " J.B." and 
Mrs. Humphry Ward. Thanking him for the gift 
of one of his books, the novelist writes : 

"There is a delicate truth and fragrance, a note of 
real experience in the essays, that make them delightful 
reading. I trust that they may give to many people the 
same stimulating and yet restful pleasure that they gave to 

A Hindu member of the Brahmo Somaj, having 
been powerfully impressed by the essay " The Un 
written Gospel," writes to say how deeply indebted 
he is to " J.B." for his writings. He rejoices to 
" make his spiritual acquaintance." " From an 


J. Brierley 

appreciative Hindu residing in far-off South India" 
comes a New Year s card, with the couplet 

May the struggle for others selves 
Be the cult of ev ry coining New Year. 

Sacred Writings. 

and the wish " Long live J.B." There comes also 
a New Year greeting from Tokyo, Japan, " A Happy 
New Year for you and others through your writings." 
From Tiverton, Devon, came a letter from a lady 
with the New Year wish " that your cup maybe filled, 
pressed down, and running over with the faith, the 
fortitude, the gladness that you bring to so many 
other hearts." Prays the writer : 

"May God bless you a thousand times for all the resolute, 
believing and strenuous inner discipline which must have 
made you able to be this ; and help you to go on. I could 
not tell you how often in the struggle with physical weakness, 
with the deadening pressure of daily attention to the ever 
repeated details that seem to waste and not to use one s 
energies, with depression, with the questionings which 
so often seem to blur all spiritual affirmations, with a huge 
note of interrogation in all sorts of circumstances here and 
in India I have turned to you for help, and found it, 
and I feel I cannot let any more time go by without trying 
to acknowledge my spiritual debt." 

" Where do your ever fresh, original quotations 
come from ? " asks a Sydney (N.S.W.) correspondent, 
just recovering; from a dangerous illness. He tells 
" J.B." as one who would understand his feelings 
from his own experience what a joy it is to be able 
to take an interest in life again. 

"Daily I make a short trip to one of the many beauty spots 
we are so rich in here. The wild flowers have been specially 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

fine this spring, and my friends have kept me well supplied 
with posies of them the fresh wild scents of the boronia, 
native rose and wattle are as delightful and healing as is 
affection from humans. Wattle Day is over with its 
planting of innumerable trees, and I could only send down 
button-holes to the dining room and staff ; but that made 
us all patriotic, for the wattle is our national flower, indigenous 
in all the States. Do you know Kipling s Wattle of Lichten- 
burg ? The scent appeals to Australians the world 
over, and the golden glory is splendid. Luckily all the while 
I was on the shelf I was able to read, and that kept me in 
touch with things. I am a member among other things 
of the Dickens Fellowship. I mention that as you wrote 
so sympathetically about Dickens. Yes, he lives here, and 
Thackeray s name is rarely mentioned. Some silly writer 
wrote the other day criticising Dickens want of education 
how it affected his style and his thought 1 If he had been a 
college-bred man we would never have had our big-hearted, 
untiring lover of common humanity our Boz ! " 

Enmeshed, and unhappy, in the doctrine of " the 
fortuitous concourse of circumstances" the "Calvin- 
vinism of Science/ with its automatic fatalism a 
correspondent suggests that 

"With your ability to find a spiritual haven from the 
roughest seas of mental difficulties you may perhaps throw 
a tow rope to me and the likes of me in one of your future 
Christian World voyages." 

An official at the London terminus of a great rail 
way system wrote in 1893, rejoicing that the ministry 
of " J.B. s" practical anonymity had been carried on. 
He says : 

" It will perhaps help you to understand my position by 
my giving a few personal details : Brought up in a remote 
corner of Wales ; suffered much neglect of school training ; 
came to London at sixteen as a railway clerk. Since then 


J. Brierley 

sixteen more years have elapsed they have gone I know 
not how. All I can say is that at thirty -two I found myself 
wofully ignorant and therefore a useless man, and mayhap 
little joy further away from God than when a boy. 

" The little daily leisure during all these years, which I now 
see should have been precious sowing years, I have largely 
frittered away upon newspapers, magazines, and such ephe 
meral print ; and although I have been endeavouring to 
make amends lately, I find the mind humiliatingly slow 
of grasp, and when a fact has been got hold of, the memory 
exasperatingly treacherous about retaining it. With these 
serious defects, and possessing no accomplishments whereby 
to give pleasure to others, I have withdrawn from the corporate 
life of my fellowmen (with results which you can very well 
imagine), contenting myself with one or two friends, a few 
loved books, and rambles amongst nature s sweet by-ways. 
This life is pleasant enough from the purely selfish standpoint, 
but of no service to society, and you can understand \ he old 
perplexing enigma constantly confronting me, Oh, why 
was I born ? " 

"But hope even where there is little hope rises eternal 
in the human breast, and my main point in troubling you 
is this : While the general mental quality must, I suppose, 
in each of us remain what at maturity we find it, cannot some 
thing effectual be done to improve that attribute of it 
Memory ? You have more than once eloquently written on 
the subject in particular, the pleasure to be derived from 
drawing upon this treasure-house as occasion requires. 
This I am sorry to say is outside my experience, for when, 
away from books, I have desired to recall the substance of some 
beautiful verse or brilliant passage, or it may be the features 
of a pleasing landscape, to my confusion nothing remains 
except a hazy recollection as if fifty years ago of the 
pleasure it gave me to read the particular book, and view 
the fine scenery. 

"The general principles given as regulating memory I am 
acquainted with, but could you kindly refer me to a good 
plan of note-taking and referencing ? Do you know, Sir, 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

of a really helpful System of mnemonics ? I have but little 
time for reading, and that it would be wise, I take it, to confine 
as far as possible to the recognised masters of our English 
literature ? But without some definite method and the use 
of memoranda, I should, under the circumstances, profit 
very little by the study." 

Writing in 1913 to thank " J.B." for his essay on 
" Burdens/ a Chesterfield correspondent asks for a 
little more light on the sentence " They lent their 
imagination to the service of fear " : 

"How if the imagination is collared, and not lent? Some 
teacher has said that, at bottom, all fear resolves itself into 
the fear of death. I don t think this is altogether true. 

"To the Christian disciple, a perfect love and implicit trust, 
ought, I suppose, to cast out all fear. 

" But how about the case of the highly strung neurasthenic 
who, though a life-long disciple in the periods of deadly 
weakness and loss of nervous control peculiar to that com 
plaint is haunted, not by the fear of death, but by the fear 
of mental derangement ? This is no imaginary case. 

"It is not so hard to see that bodily suffering may be sent 
for disciples, but it is difficult to see how polishing may come 
from mental distress. 

" I am thinking of the black fears all the worse for being 
vague which assail the sleepless hours of the early morning 
when prayer frequently seems to be of no avail. 

"Can you please deal further with the subject in a further 
early paper ? " 

A Chicago choir trainer tells of the cheer he gets 
from " J.B." Few men, he confesses, during his 
fifty years among the churches, had impressed him 
with their preaching, though he names two, after 
whose sermons he went away feeling " What a 
glorious God our Father is, and how easy it is to bear 


J. Brierley 

sadness when we have a true sense of what God 
endures for our sakes!" 

"I do not wonder at the falling away of attendance, partic 
ularly of the working classes. They feel that the Church 
holds little in common with them. Moving as I do among 
all classes of musicians I often hear them and talk with them. 
So very many of them are from Europe, and know too well 
what the Church, as they know it, stands for, and think 
all are alike, and never go only to play at some mass or concert. 
Very few of the men in our Free Churches, as I know them, 
can be distinguished from any other men of the world. I 
have said that if we would just shut up for a year or two and 
give ourselves up to practise Christ s teaching what a change 
would be felt in the city and how people would want to know 
what brought the change about. I do believe that Christ s 
men will some day come to believe profoundly that A man s 
a man for a that. You should hear the response when I 
recite that poem. Down deep they believe it but not enough 
to practise it yet. Men will believe anything about Christ 
you like to preach. But to believe in Him what a different 
thing that is. ... Americans put on the coin In God 
we trust, but forty years living among them teaches 
me that they really hold in a lively manner the creed, 
We believe in the Dollar mightily ! Is not that same 
faith in England more prominent than all else ? I will not 
say what men ought to do, but will wait till that mighty 
Tornado of human love from the centre of things strikes us. 
I will hug fast to such as the following, He that would be 
first among you let him be your servant, Whatsoever 
ye would that men should do to you do, ye even so unto them. 

" So my thanks bound out to you, Mr. J.B. , for your 
seeing, and telling of what you see, a Revival of Faith. " 

Some of the correspondents express their amaze 
ment at the range of " J.B. s" reading as revealed in 
his quotations and references. A Toronto (Canada) 
writer thanks him for the emphasis he lays on the note 

The Post-bag of "J.B." 

of the spiritual, and tells how he and others diffuse the 
teaching of "J.B." in their conversation. He 
adds : 

" Pardon a query : When have you had time to do so 
much reading ? From Plato to Spencer, from Zeno to Kant, 
from Pindar to Browning with Francis, Augustine, Hugo, 
Bronte all bearing witness to your argument really it all 
seems impossible ! Have you the philosopher s stone ? 

It is not at all an exaggeration to state that there is in 
your writings a personality embodying (quite strangely) 
some characteristics of Carlyle and Emerson. I have often 
marked passages as being quite Carlylean or decidedly 
Emersonian. I hope some article may appear on Com 
pensation. The subject is so absorbing, after reading 
Emerson on it." 

Among the soul friends of " J.B." who felt them 
selves drawn to him by peculiar affinity, was that 
veteran champion of progressive religious thought in 
America, Dr. James M. Whiton. In a letter dated 
December i6th, 1913, only a few weeks before " J.B." 
passed away, Dr. Whiton said : 

" You some time ago wrote to me, Power to your elbow. 
You have attained it. I recall Cassius wonderment expressed 
to Brutus that a man of such feeble physique as he assigned 
to Caesar should bear the palm, etc. With equal ground for 
wonder I think of the power wielded from your retired 
thinking shop, or phrontisterion, as Aristophanes termed 
Socrates mental laboratory." 

In a previous letter of the same year he says he 
would have liked to have visited England in the 
summer for "a preaching parish." Dr. Whiton 
explains that the growing infirmity of " the dear 
wife, wedded fifty-eight years ago this May, makes 


J. Brierley 

it impossible to put the Atlantic between us, so I do 
the best I can with my pen to keep my British 
friendship in good repair." 

An Indiana, U.S.A., correspondent, writes : 

"We here in America are greatly indebted to the Mother 
land for many suggestive and inspiring writers who feed 
our lives. It is a strength to those who, on this side, are work 
ing their way through the perplexities that stand in the way 
of a full confidence, to find that in another land men are moving 
in the same direction under the impulse of similar ideals and 
ideas. One can but think that it is not merely a coincidence, 
but is suggestive of a spirit bending men s minds in the direction 
of a larger, freer truth. Your book, Life and the Idea], 
has been my daily companion for months, and I have never 
failed to find solace and strength, with the clearest insight, 
in its company. To the writer of that book I am under deepest 
obligations, and I, a stranger, from a far distance, venture 
to salute you, and to say Thank you for bringing his vague 
fancies to clearness, and his heart s dearest wishes into faith 
or at least into the structure of his faith. " 

A lady writes from Cornwall : 

" I can no longer resist sending my Thank you ! You cannot 
know how very much your essays mean to me every week and 
how I appreciate and enjoy them I am only a country girl 
with the days full up of work (work that often-times would 
be drudgery did not J.B. make the halo of divinity to 
shine on all the so-called common -place) and so I trust you 
will pardon this liberty I take of writing from my heart to 
thank you, and may you be long years spared to us to reveal 
more of the grandeur of life and its possibilities 1 Your 
Appreciation of Life in last week s Christian World meant 
so very much to me. I have experienced the power of suffer 
ing but I would not have missed it. I know you have 
expressed it for me that the gain is infinitely greater than 
the pain and I am nearer being one with the great Heart of 
the universe. I don t think I should ever have presumed 


The Post-bag of "J.B." 

to have written you this my Master but that some weeks 
ago you wrote There are teachers who have opened to us 
the way of truth hearts of gold that have offered us of their 
treasures and when too late we remember that we have failed 
to tell them what we owed. " 

There is a humorous letter from a Sydney, N.S.W., 
correspondent who says that under the Southern 
Cross the mystic initials " J.B." have a two-fold 
significance : 

"Even as the English summer has by its traducers been 
described as three hot days and a thunderstorm, so here 
in Sydney it happens that, after two days of heat and dusty 
westerly winds, many an anxious eye is raised to the summit 
of Sydney Post Office, and broad are the smiles which greet 
the appearance thereon of a flag bearing the letters J.B. , 
signifying to the citizens of Sydney that the beneficent 
southerly has reached Jarvis Bay and may be expected shortly 
at Port Jackson, bringing, as it so frequently does, great 
masses of cloud laden with rain, which to most Australians 
is a veritable golden lining, bearing renewed assurance of 
continued prosperity to a country where the word drought 
is one of almost constant menace ; and then every Tuesday, 
from the same Post Office, the mail brings its news of another 
J.B., whose welcome utterances in The Christian World 
are such a regular feature of that grave and reverend publi 
cation. I therefore venture to congratulate you upon the 
happy coincidence to which I have referred, and further 
to congratulate you upon your unfailing versatility, which 
to many of us who are more familiar with Fleet Street, E.G., 
than with Pitt Street, Sydney, is a source of continual 

A German reader, Herr Paul Jaeger, writes in 1898, 
from Thuringia : 

To-day I got a copy of Studies of the Soul from D. 
Rade, in Frankfort, and I am very happy indeed to have the 


J. Brierley 

book at last. And just now I have put down The Christian 
World of May igth, with your article on The Religious Value 
of Death, which has created in my heart the strong desire 
of expressing afresh my thanks to you for giving us what 
you have received from God. I cannot help thanking you, 
whenever I read one of your articles. And they all taste 
of more, as we say, Sie schmecken nach mehr ! " 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

INTO his holidays " J.B." always flung himself with 
schoolboy zest. Most of all he enjoyed holidays 

In his account of himself in Who s Who, he says 
that he " resided four years on the Continent, study 
ing theology and general literature ; spent some time 
in European and Eastern travel." His recreations 
were given as "reading, chess, foreign travel, cycling." 
A breakdown led to his being absent from his 
church during the last three months of 1878. While 
he was in Scotland the way was opened for a voyage 
up the Mediterranean to Constantinople and beyond 
to the Turkish coast of the Black Sea, just after the 
Russo-Turkish War. In a long letter to Mr. Wick- 
ham, of Leytonstone, describing the Turkish part 
of his experiences, he says : 

" Events, impressions, ideas, all new and strange, have 
tumbled in upon me in such volume since then as will take 
years to digest and chew the cud of. I know, however, you 
will be interested in the stray jottings I am able to give. It 
was a strange sensation when, sailing up the Hellespont, 
I caught sight of the first Turkish town, with its mosques 
and minarets gleaming in the sunshine, and realised that I 
was beyond the bounds of Christendom and in a country 
where I should not be recognised as a believer but only as a 


J. Brierley 

Giaour and an infidel. But the sensation was still stranger 
when, our vessel having brought to in the Bosphorus, I 
first set foot on Turkish soil and found myself in Constanti 
nople. I accompanied the captain ashore in a small caique 
pulled by two lean but wiry Turks. As we threaded our 
way through the narrow, crowded and inconceivably dirty 
streets I felt verily that I was a stranger in a strange land. 
I stuck closely to my companion during that first hour, for 
to have been without an English face to look at and English 
tongue to answer me just then would have been too bewilder 
ing. This feeling of utter strangeness, amounting almost to 
pain in its intensity, soon wore off, however, and on my next 
visit ashore, the following morning, I started off alone and 
crossing the great wooden bridge which spans the Golden 
Horn, wandered about the streets and lanes of Stamboul 
with as much composure as if I had been in the Strand. I 
took my bearings carefully, noting every turning as I went 
on, and so found my way home without difficulty. I should 
think no city in the world presents such striking and novel 
effects as Constantinople. The situation is incomparable. 
The view of it from the Bosphorus can never be forgotten. 
The blue waters are crowded with the shipping of all nations. 
Lifting your eyes you have Europe on the one side, and Asia 
on the other, the fringe of rock continent lined, as far as the 
eye can reach, with buildings, whose white fronts glitter in 
the sunshine, and this picture is set in the framework of an 
atmosphere without a trace of smoke and of a sky without 
a cloud. The scene, however, loses three-fourths of its beauty 
when you land. Now you come upon streets innocent of 
drains, and where the dogs are the only scavengers, and upon 
smells which none but an Asiatic or an Inspector of Nuisances 
could be expected to stand. In no other city I should think 
is there such a variety of languages habitually spoken. Go, 
for instance, into a shipping office, or any large place of business, 
and in five minutes you may hear French, English, Italian, 
Greek and Turkish. English is comparatively little spoken. 
I go into a shop in Pera. Parlez vous anglais ? Non, 
Monsieur, je parle francais, italien et grec, would often 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

be the reply. I then have to muster up my French, and so 
get my business transacted. The difficulties of shopping 
are not lessened by the peculiarities of the Turkish currencies. 
When a man tells you the price of an article you have to be 
careful to ascertain whether he means good money or 
bad money. By good money is meant the gold, silver 
and copper currency. The gold lira or pound is worth i8s. 
of our money. The silver medjidie or dollar, 33. 8d. ; the 
chireq about one franc and the piastre 2|d. The bad 
money is the paper caime the value of which fluctuates 
every day. Fluctuation is perhaps hardly the proper 
word, for day by day its value now steadily declines. Yester 
day at Trebizond we got 420 piastres caime for a lira or i8s. 
The piastre in hard money is as I said before 2^d. This 
will give you an idea of the difference in value. The foreigner 
needs to look out, especially if be an Englishman. Our nation 
ality seems to be at once recognised, and as we are all supposed 
to be made of money, 100 and 200 per cent, is at once put 
on to the price of an article. An addition to the excitement 
of life in Constantinople lies in the fact that, after dark 
especially, it is a trifle unsafe. I understood that thirteen 
murders are known to have been committed last month, 
besides robberies innumerable. In the part of the city where 
our vessel was moored no one who has anything to lose thinks 
of going alone unless well armed. I thought it expedient 
to conduct most of my explorations by daylight. I roamed 
about in all directions armed with nothing but a stout stick 
and met with no molestation anywhere. One day the captain 
and I took a horse apiece and had a ride out to the environs. 
You never saw such roads. Now the descent would be almost 
as steep as the side of a house. Anon you come to a place 
where you have a deep pit on one side and a steep slope on 
the other with about a foot of level ground between. As 
you come up to it you wonder which your horse will do, 
fall into the pit or roll with you down the slope. You discover, 
however, that it is not the first time your horse has gone 
over a Turkish road. It picks its way with admirable circum 
spection between the Scylla and Charybdis and brings you 


J. Brierley 

out all right on the other side. Amongst other notable places 
we have seen here is the Mosque of St. Sophia. We gained 
admittance by the payment of five francs. It is without 
exception the grandest interior I have seen, not excepting St. 
Paul s. It has lost much of the ornamentation which it had 
when a Greek basilica, and all traces of its former devotion 
to Christian worship have been carefully removed. The 
Turk could never build a place like that if he tried for a thou 
sand years. He is after all only a cuckoo bird getting into 
nests which others have made and that only to defile them. 
But I must leave Constantinople to tell you where I am and 
what I am doing now. I am in the oddest position. Our 
vessel has been chartered for a month by a Greek agent of the 
Government here to carry Turkish troops to various points 
in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. I had no option 
but to go with the vessel as I could not very well walk home 
from Constantinople. Unless therefore something unexpected 
turns up by which I can get a passage back earlier I shall 
be away three months instead of two and it will be as much 
as I can do to appear in England by Christmas. It certainly 
seems a queer conjunction of circumstances. I never thought 
that I was to be swept into the skirts of this great Eastern 
war cloud, and on the Turkish side too. The position, though 
a queer and unexpected one, however, is full of interest and 
of material for observation. We are now on our way to 
Constantinople from Trebizond. We have taken out there 
over i, 600 troops, nearly all of them released prisoners from 
Russia. Here, packed together as thick as sardines in the 
hold and on the deck, were the warriors of Plevna, of Kars, and 
of the Shipka. They seem to have been well treated by the 
Russians in their captivity. They looked well fed and healthy 
and most of them were attired in Russian greatcoats. My 
cabin is on the deck and has a small ante-room attached 
to it about the size of a dog kennel. Their chief officer, a long 
fellow who was taken at Plevna, coiled himself up in this every 
night, and appeared to think himself in exceptionally luxurious 
quarters. The mode of enforcing discipline amongst the 
men was essentially Turkish. If a fellow was recalcitrant 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

an officer would give him a lick over the head with a stick 
and then spit in his face, or he would perhaps order half-a- 
dozen men to strike him over the face one after the other 
with the flat of their hand. On the whole, however, the men 
were wonderfully patient and well conducted. Their rations 
were bread and water and their quarters the dark stifling hold 
or the open deck, but they took everything cheerfully and 
seemed as merry as sand boys. Many a time at night I have 
walked right on their heads as they lay on the deck (there 
was no other way of getting about). And the operation 
has not elicited as much as a grunt from them. I suppose 
it was that I was very light and their heads were very hard. 
They were unarmed, the Russians having taken good care 
of their weapons. In our present journey, back from Tre- 
bizond to Constantinople, we have not quite so manageable 
a set. I am writing this surrounded by a host of 800 Turks 
armed to the teeth with breech loaders, bayonets and short 
swords. We have had two or three rows already with these 
and may have some more. The officers, of whom there are 
twenty or thirty, wanted to take possession of the cabin 
below. As this would have left the captain and me without 
a single place of retreat, we flatly refused. We had another 
scene at the bridge. They crowded up on it in a way which 
made it impossible to work the ship. The captain then, 
at my suggestion, told our Greek interpreter to inform them 
that he would not weigh anchor or move a single inch towards 
Constantinople till every man was off the bridge. This 
brought them down, but in a state of great discontent. The 
interpreter brings us now and then some beautiful specimens 
of their threats. Spite, however, of pleasant suggestions about 
having our hands cut off or being put overboard we eat our 
meals with unabated appetite and sleep undisturbed." 

" J.B. s " foreign travels broadened his religious 
views and enlarged his tolerance for other forms of 
faith. He says : 

" We travel to the ends of the earth, only to find the same 
thing. The present writer remembers the sensation with 


J. Brierley 

which, on sailing up the Dardanelles, he caught sight for the 
first time of the Mohammedan minarets which proclaimed 
him a Giaour and infidel. It was with a similar conscious 
ness that, in standing at the tomb of the Apostles in St. Peter s, 
he suddenly called to mind that the Church he was in, like 
the Turkish mosque, disposed in the most uncompromising 
manner of his future. We are all damned at least half-a- 
dozen times by the faults we do not accept. Pondering 
these things the feeling, we say, comes over us that the thing 
has been a little overdone, and we are disposed to ask whether 
humanity might not, to the general advantage, stay its lust 
of affirmation and give its infallibility a rest. In such moods 
we fall in love with the undefined, and are disposed to say 
with Chamfort, " II faut agir davantage, penser moins, 
et ne pas se regarder vivre." "Let us do more, think less, 
and not peer too closely into the business of living." 

He told sometimes in dramatic style the story of 
a holiday in which he was mixed up with a tragedy. 
The ship on which he was enjoying a Mediterranean 
cruise put in at a Spanish port. A sailor inadvert 
ently crossed a chalk line beyond which passage was 
forbidden and was shot dead by a customs official. 
"J.B." and the captain took the matter up, and made 
a journey into the interior to lay the case before the 
British Consul, and urge him to action. The Consul, 
however, regarded the matter with such callous 
indifference that " J.B.," who could use very forcible 
language when the occasion demanded it, frankly 
expressed his opinion of the Consul, and so frightened 
f him that he promised to investigate the circumstances. 
On coming home, " J.B." went to the Foreign Office, 
and his determined activity resulted in reparation 
being demanded and obtained. 

To Switzerland his allegiance never faltered. 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

Often in his essays there are reminiscences of Swiss 
holidays. Here are some extracts : 

" Have any of our readers been through the clouds and seen 
them from their upper side ? It is a marvellous experience, 
of which the balloonist has not the entire monoply. The 
spectacle is granted sometimes to the mountaineer. The 
present writer has vivid remembrance of a dull November 
afternoon in the Jura, when, plunging into the heavy cloud 
which all day had hidden sun and sky, he toiled upwards, till 
Suddenly, in one dazzling moment, he found himself outside 
and above it all. He was in a realm of glorious sunshine. 
Above was the dazzling blue ; away to his right lay a rolling 
sea of magnificent cloud colours ; at the far side of this sea, 
gleaming in the white radiance of their snow raiment, rose 
the whole mighty range of the Alps. What a scene, and 
what a parable ! This same cloud, which, from one side and 
in one aspect, glowered over the world as the image of all 
that was gloomy and forbidding, required only another view 
point to stand revealed as in itself beautiful beyond imagin 
ation, while serving as the foundation of the sublimest of 

world pictures." 


" The present writer can never forget the sensations of 
one summer day when, solitary amongst the mountains of 
the Orisons, he was held as in a trance by the scene before 
him. The magical hues of the atmosphere playing over the 
far-stretched valleys and lower heights, the blue of the cloud 
less sky, the hush upon all nature, seemed supernatural 
while the vista of mighty peaks, virgined in their snowy 
whiteness, soaring into the very heavens, seemed visibly to link 
our world to a fairer universe beyond. One had seen the 
mountains before ; for years the view of them had daily 
fed the eye, but never before or since has there been in con 
templation of them such a quality of feeling. It was as though 
the utmost essence of all that was beautiful had suddenly 
passed into the soul. There was nothing for it but worship. 
It was heaven." 



J. Brierley 

" In the summer months English people, on travel bent, 
often leave their home scenery in search of backgrounds. 
For foregrounds and middle distances our own island is incom 
parable. From end to end it is a dream of pastoral beauty. 
Its landscapes are such as a Cuyp, a Claude Lorraine, dreamed 
in their most inspired hours. But the view has nowhere 
the gigantic backing of Alp or Apennine. There are effects 
which the snow mountains alone can offer. If any one wants 
their spiritual interpretation let him read or re-read the first 
volume of The Stones of Venice. Yes, the Alps for back 
ground. We shall ourselves not easily forget one moment 
when, on a hot summer day, toiling up the St. Nicholas valley, 
it was before Zermatt knew its railway we turned a sharp 
corner and had for the first time our vision filled by the 
gigantic Matter horn, the cock that crows over Europe, 
to use Michelet s term, its solid rock-mass cleaving the very 

Just before he took up his position on the staff of 
The Christian World he had an experience of Swiss 
mountain climbing that might easily have nipped his 
journalistic career in the bud. He told the story of 
his ascent of the Diablerets, in his 90 holiday, in The 
Christian World. 

"It was rough work," he says, "reaching the summit, 
10,000 feet above the starting point. Leaving the guide s 
chalet at one in the morning with a Swiss pastor and three 
English youths in the party, the crest was attained at eight 
in the morning." " J.B." loved the mountains and he revelled 
in the adventure. " This," he says, " is indeed the upper world. 
As we drink in the life-giving air, and take in the details of 
a panorama of which Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Matter horn, 
the Weisshorn, and a dozen other Alpine royalties form 
part, we think of the multitudes of unfortunates immured, 
at this moment, in stuffy shops and warehouses of smoke- 
begrimed cities, and conclude that we are highly privileged 
persons. But privileges have to be paid for, and before 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

the day is over there come moments when probably the ware 
houseman would vastly prefer his position to ours. 

"We had gained the summit, but the real difficulties of our 
expedition were yet to come. Instead of returning by the 
route we had already followed, our guide proposes to take 
us over another point of the range, and then to descend by 
the further side. It is difficult, he says, but we shall be equal 
it. Accordingly, after an hour s rest, we set off once more. 

" Our first bit of work is to cross an arete or ridge of rock, 
about a foot in width, with naked precipices on either 
side. When we are over the guide, who is in front, informs 
us that he had seen six chamois on the right. He had not 
called our attention to them, because, looking down into 
the abyss from that ticklish spot, some us might have 
turned giddy. 

"And now comes a bit of glacier to cross, which is by no 
means plain sailing. It slopes down at a terribly sharp angle, 
and is as slippery as frozen snow can be. Attention, gentle 
men, says the guide, if anyone slips on his back here he 
is lost. The danger is minimised, however, by the steps 
which he cuts for us with his ice-axe. 

"It is half -an -hour after, when engaged among the diffi 
cult rocks of the Tete Ronde, the second peak of our series, 
that we encounter the real crux of our expedition. Our 
leader has called a halt, while he goes forward to assure 
himself as to the road. By and by he comes back with strange 
tidings. A certain couloir or passage, which formed part 
of the way down, has been in part destroyed by an avalanche, 
and there is nothing for it but to improvise another route. 
To go back is next to impossible, for we have just been lowered 
one by one down a precipice by ropes, and there is no getting 
up it. By and by another track is found, and the order is 
given to advance. It is only a chamois path, but there is 
nothing else. We are now creeping, one after another, along 
the face of a tremendous precipice. Above are hundreds 
of feet of perpendicular wall. Below is a fathomless abyss. 
What we have to walk upon is a cornice of crumbling rock, 
often sloping down then up, and sometimes not more than 


J. Brierley 

four inches wide. To add to the pleasure of this little 
promenade there is a sharp corner in it to be turned. 

" Suddenly there is a slip, a crash of something falling, and 
a smothered exclamation. A piece of rock on which one of 
our young Englishmen has placed his boot has given way, 
and goes crashing into the gulf. An instant more and he 
would have followed it, but a hand of iron is upon him. It 
is that of our brave Swiss pastor, who, by a special providence, 
is next him, and within reach. He has him by the collar, 
and holds him till he can struggle on to another ledge. Had 
there been another foot of distance between them, or had the 
grip of his helper been less firm, our return home would have 
been a funeral march. His alpenstock has gone. The 
miracle is that its owner is still here. 

"It is a terrible moment. There are two of us still to 
pass that spot. Part of the narrow ledge has already given 
way. Why may not another ? The guide, who had been on 
in front, is back in a moment. Steady, gentlemen ! 
above all things don t lose your nerve. He works himself 
along the wall like a chamois, and gives us a hand. Another 
minute and the corner is turned. We are safe for the moment 
on a narrow platform of rock, and we draw a long breath. 
We wonder what our friends would say if they saw us at 
this moment. Well, we know what the sensation is of 
facing a violent death. We decide it is not nearly so bad 
as one might think, and that as an experience it has its 

" But we are not yet out of the wood. We have, in fact, 
hours of similar work, in which every nerve is stretched 
to its utmost tension. It is an immense relief to have it 
varied, as it is at times, by a glissade down a snow-field. 
There are shouts of laughter when, in the middle of the rush, 
some one loses his equilibrium and comes rolling head over 
heels, in the most undignified fashion, to the bottom of the 

" But it is with a sense of profound thankfulness that, with 
no life lost and no serious hurt sustained, we at length reach 
the lower levels, and look back on the frowning impossible 


A Philosopher s Holidays 

heights above where so lately we were playing the game of 
life and death. 

Messieurs, says our guide, I congratulate you, 
I can tell you now that the Matterhorn does not offer such 
difficulties as you have gone through. It was a path for 
chamois that you have come by. There is nothing left 
in the Alps for you to do. " 

During his Christian World period, " J.B." had as 
holiday companion on various occasions his colleague 
and intimate friend, Mr. F. H. Fisher. They were 
in Scotland together, in the Lake District, in the 
Midlands, in Devonshire and in Norfolk. Says Mr. 
Fisher : 

" One very delightful holiday in Norfolk remains in my 
memory. J.B. was an enthusiastic cyclist, and on the 
cycle, and at walking or mountain climbing, though he was 
much the elder of his companions, he could leave us all behind. 
I had many opportunities of sharing in the treasures of his 
richly stored mind, always prodigally pouring itself out 
to his friends. On that Norfolk holiday, on a lovely morning 
of early autumn, we were approaching a village on our cycles. 
As was often the case, the exercise stirred his imagination 
and started his mind on a course of reflections. 

"Have you, he asked, thought of the continuity of 
things ? What about natural predestination ? We started 
as a world with a nebula which became a molten globe ; 
that cooled and became fit for the habitation of the creatures 
of the primeval slime ; then, in the course of evolution, came 
the monkeys and these, later, took on human characteristics ; 
our savage ancestors, like the dragons of the slime, butchered 
and ate each other ; after that softer moods prevailed the 
young man and maiden walked and courted in the groves 
and all this that you and I might cycle through this village 
we are coming to. Does not this impress you with the import 
ance of your personality, that all this was done that you 
and I might enjoy such a morning ride as this ? " 


J. Brierley 

Mr. Fisher laughingly confessed that it had not 
occurred to him, but such trains of thought were 
always being started in " J.B." 

A minister friend, who spent holidays with "J.B./ 1 
tells of his schoolboyish happiness amid wild Scottish 
scenery. On a very hot day they came to a small 
loch, remote from anywhere. " Let us bathe ! " said 
" J.B." They were soon in the water, and on 
emerging " J.B." raced and laughed in the sunshine 
till he was dry. 


Eclectic of the Eclectics 

" J.B." never lost his interest in the ministry. He 
liked to feel he was still in touch with the cloth, and 
the cloth was proud of " J.B. s" former membership 
of their order. Though his pulpit and platform 
appearances on his return to London as journalist 
became rarer and rarer, after the first few years, he 
enjoyed meeting ministers at the Eclectic an informal 
gathering for social intercourse and free discussion, 
the sacred arcana of which were impenetrable by the 
mere layman, but his ministerial brethren were glad 
to recognise "J.B." as being " once a minister, always 
a minister." One of the most brilliant of the 
Eclectics, the Rev. J. Morgan Gibbon, of Stamford 
Hill, says : 

" The Eclectic is a little dining club with a membership 
limited to a round score of Congregational ministers living in 
London. Like Dr. Johnson s club in Essex Street, the terms 
are lax and the expenses light. Though, or because, it is a 
ministerial club, no papers are allowed nor speeches allowed. 
The club aims at nothing except at that which, if it comes off, 
is the best thing of all, the fruition of good fellowship. 

"I do not know whether J.B. was one of its founders; if 
not, he was one of its oldest members, and at its board he was 
seen at his very best. He was a very clubbable man in 
Johnson s sense of the term. The sight of J.B. s slight, 


J. Brierley 

tense figure, with the scholar s stoop, the bright face, the kindly, 
eager eyes, gave everyone assurance of a good meeting. Of 
course he could write, that goes without saying ; the whole 
reading world knows it. But what a good talker he was ! 
And a cause of good talk in others. He delighted to hear and 
cap a good story. He never claimed the floor for himself ; 
like Sydney Smith he took the half-minutes and rilled them 
with light or with lightning as the occasion demanded. 

Omnivorous reader as he was. J.B. was no bookworm, 
nor was he a specialist tied up to one subject. He was alive 
to every aspect of lif e. The last time I met him at the club he 
was full of the question of armaments. He would have 
England, as a great act of faith in God, lay down her arms and 
call upon other nations to do the same. He was confident 
that what the world wanted was the stimulus of a great appeal 
and the inspiration of a great example. The slight hesitancy 
which latterly marked his opening words completely disappeared 
in the rush of words that swept away all opposition, as with 
apostolic zeal he unfolded his ideal for his country. For the 
only time I can remember, men left their places and gathered 
round him ; the club became a little church, with J.B. for 
its preacher. That was, as I say, wholly exceptional, but then 
J.B. was exceptional. 

"We have had noble and brotherly men among us, whose 
memory we cherish Cave, Spensley, Morlais Jones, Dorling, 
Twenty man what good lovable souls they were ! But no 
greater, more genial, more deeply beloved member ever graced 
our little feDowship, or, passing from it into the unseen, left us 
with a greater sense of loss or gratitude than J.B. A few days 
ago he, like us, was grappling with problems ; to-day he has 
passed into the solution. Laus Deo / " 


Life in London 

WHEN he settled again in London, Mr. Brierley 
took a house at Willesden Green, N.W., " Helens- 
leigh," Dean Road. That combined to his mind, 
several distinct advantages. It lay high ; country 
walks were possible ; there was good communica 
tion with the City ; and he was within a long walk 
of Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church, where 
he decided to settle under the ministry of Dr. 
Robert F. Horton. It was a great joy to feel that 
he was again in the mid-stream of thought and 
action, where at every moment of the day his finger 
was on the pulse of life. To him as to most educated 
and imaginative men who have come up from the 
country, London was always the city of magic, 
mystery and thrilling romance. His health, for 
a few years, was fairly good, and he was able to do 
a reasonable amount of pulpit " supply " work, 
sometimes taking both services. He made several 
welcome reappearances in his old Balham Church, 
and was in frequent demand for " special occasions " 
on Sundays and week-days. 

There was an exhilarating freshness alike in his 
thought and his phrasing, and his pulpit and 
platform delivery, without any attempt at rhetor- 

J. Brierley 

ical effect, fitted his thought and its expression 
like a glove. He used the conversational voice, 
and made it take on the colour and temperature 
of his emotions, neither tearing passion to rags 
nor serving thought generated in passion on 
a cold dish a not infrequent way of spoiling 
an oratorical entree. His language was simple, 
straightforward, clear cut, nervous Anglo-Saxon, 
of the kind found only in speakers to whom the 
Bible is familar as household words. But " J.B. s " 
zest of life, his touch with the humanity of his 
time, the reality and vitality of the questions and 
problems with which he dealt, his eager interest 
in those problems, his apostolic zeal to help men 
by enlightening their minds and quickening their 
consciences and persuading them to discover and 
draw out the hidden wealth of their personality, 
made it impossible for him to be dry or vainly 
to beat the air. To him the Bible was a present- 
day Book, because the Bible writers were men 
like ourselves tempted and tried, sinning and 
suffering and repenting, perplexed and baffled, 
but wrestling to save their souls alive, and even 
amid clouds and thick darkness still believing 
in a quenchless light, and saving themselves, and 
helping to save their age and the ages to follow, 
by faith in the soul, in God and the things that 
cannot be shaken. He made the writers and 
heroes of the Bible live, and the inspiration of their 
consecrated personalities, which had been made 
the medium of the messages that came to them, 
infused itself into the preacher. He showed 


Life in London 

that " new thought " has never, in the great affairs 
of the soul, and in human character and conduct, 
Been able to improve on the " old thought," 
though the advance of knowledge, and the accumu 
lation of Christian experience, have illustrated 
from every point of view and demonstrated in 
countless ways the unsuspected richness, the 
infinite applications, and the timeless validity of 
the spiritual and ethical conceptions of the Bible 
writers. A sample of his sermon notes of the 
nineties period will be found as an Appendix. 
He was a frequent preacher at Congregational 
services that were being held in Streatham Town 
Hall. In his notes of sermons preached in 1891, 
there are such subjects as " Fulness of Joy," 
" Chariots of Fire," " Evolution and Evangelical 
Faith," " Present Salvation," " Obedience of 
Thoughts," " On Promises " and " The Conver 
sion of Lydia " all these came within the category 
of " Travellers," but they were not dusty and 
footsore travellers. There was nothing of the 
traditional " three decker," no " Brethren," 
no tiresome introduction, no conventional pulpit 
vocabulary or intonation. He liked to plunge 
straight into his subject with a story, or recollection 
of a striking conversation on some aspect of the 
faith, that at once captured attention. There 
was not much in the way of exegesis of the text, 
but the spirit of the author was brought to the 
illumination of the teaching of the text, and the 
teaching was found to be as up-to-date as the 
leading article in the Saturday s paper more 


J. Brierley 

up-to-date, for it would be in date as long as man 
had a brain to think and a heart to feel. 

At Lyndhurst Road Church " J.B." found himself 
in a congenial atmosphere. Dr. Horton had 
absorbed all that Oxford could give to one of the 
most receptive of souls. He had that combination 
of the cultured mind and the Evangelical heart, 
the wide-eyed outlook on the age, the faith in the 
future, and the " passion for souls," which had 
been Mr. Brierley s own ideal of the Christian 
preacher and pastor. In Lyndhurst Road Church, 
whose pulpit he sometimes occupied, " J.B. s " 
striking personality was a wholesome influence, 
and a warm attachment sprang up between him 
and the pastor. Touching letters passed between 
them when Dr. Horton s health failed. Knowing 
what this meant to a minister, "J.B." wrote out 
of the fulness of his heart. " J.B." and Dr. Horton 
were both Hellenes in their sweetness and light- 
domiciled and naturalised in Philistia, and they 
saw no reason why Hellas and Philistia should 
be divided as by the gulf that shut off Dives in Hades 
from Lazarus in Abraham s bosom. 

Dr. Horton says that one of " J. B. s " sons joined 
the Church and the father s gratitude and joy 
at this were most moving and almost unequalled 
in his recollection. That is a side of his life that 
people did not know. " Sometimes," says Dr. 
Horton, " I went over and had a talk with him 
and sometimes walked out with him. His con 
versation was always eager and interesting. He 
preached occasionally, and when he did that or 


Life in London 

spoke at a meeting he always made a great impression 
on the people there was something so alert and 
pertinent in all he said. He would often speak 
at small meetings in the early days and would give 
bright and charming little addresses full of humour 
and wisdom. I have met so many people who 
said they depended on J.B. s article as a kind of 
spring of fresh water in the week s life. When 
I first came to London he was at Balham and I 
heard an immense amount about him from certain 
people who knew him. Then I met him. There 
seemed such a contrast between the brilliant and 
successful preacher and the sort of man he was 
when I saw him. He seemed so secular, so to 
speak. It was not the note of piety at all that 
struck you it was the note of the religious man 
in the street, the newspaper style of man, and it 
was a great difficulty even when he came to live 
near us to realise that he had got in him what 
he had. His outside did not seem to suggest his 
mind. He was one of the most striking instances 
I have met in my life of the difference between 
the mere house in which the soul lives and the 
soul itself. That first impression was deepened 
up to the last. The last time I saw him I had the 
feeling again It is incredible how this human 
soul shines with such lustre in such an imperfect 
kind of candlestick. 

There was a playful difference of opinion between 
Dr. Horton and " J.B." over the character of the 
Sunday morning service. For a number of years, 
partly because of the distance from his home, 


J. Brierley 

but chiefly because of the state of his nerves, 
" J.B." was only in his pew on the Sunday morning. 
He used to tell Dr. Horton that he regarded the 
morning service as his Church meeting and got 
all the religious value of the Church meeting out 
of it. This Dr. Horton, with his invincible Con 
gregational view that in the Church meeting every 
member should have an equal place, would not allow. 

"J.B." as journalist was as far removed as possible 
from the minister in his dress and conversation. 
Others than Dr. Horton who were introduced to 
him in Fleet Street or elsewhere confess that they 
felt the same difficulty. " J.B." was so much the 
Christian man of the world, his conversational 
range was so wide, he was able to discuss almost 
any question with such apparent expert knowledge, 
his talk was so frank and free and racy, he was 
so utterly unlike the conventional idea of the reli 
gious teacher, that people were nonplussed. Those 
who had come, through his writings, to reverence 
him as a seer and a saint, could scarcely believe 
their eyes and their ears when they came face to 
face with this man wearing a darkish grey morning 
suit and the oblong, rather high-crowned hard 
hat which he affected, and listened to his merry 
chaffing chat. But when " J.B." did get into the 
channel of religious talk no doubt was left as to 
his identity with the author of the essays in The 
Christian World. 

Politics he regarded as the efforts of the State 
to translate into practice the social and ethical 
ideals of the nation. He was bound to take the 


Life in London 

deepest interest in politics because he wanted the 
nation to be really ethical and religious in all depart 
ments of its life. He did not expect too much 
from politics because he realised that the State 
was never likely to rise above the level of the 
intelligence and morals of the people. He held 
that politics would be purer, more progressive 
and more effective, only as the individual citizen 
came to realise his citizenship as a sacred respon 
sibility, and to exercise his vote and influence 
with the same conscience as he performed his 
religious obligations. He held very strongly that the 
Churches had failed to influence the affairs of the 
State by their narrow, artificial conception of spirit 
uality. They had thought more of the Church 
than of the Kingdom of God, more of the education 
of the individual in one part of his nature than of 
the preparing of the whole individual to play his 
manifold part in the leavening of the community. 
He was a Nonconformist Liberal who did his own 
thinking and was not disposed to make a shibboleth 
either of the Nonconformity or the Liberalism. 
He was a Passive Resister against the Conservative 
Education Act because he did believe, honestly 
and conscientiously, that that Act deliberately 
inflicted injustice on the part of the nation belonging 
to the Free Churches by compelling them to pay 
rates for teaching designed to subvert those things 
which their Churches had come into existence to 
maintain. In September, 1912, he wrote a letter 
of strong protest to The Daily News for what he 
considered its mischievous nagging at Sir Edward 


J. Brierley 

Grey, and his conduct of the foreign policy of the 
Government. He received a large number of 
letters thanking him for the letter and endorsing 
his protest. He was an idealist in his politics, but 
always, as with his religion, he was the practical 
idealist making allowances for the defective 
materials and the imperfect conditions under which 
work had to be done, and judging men according 
to the ability and sincerity with which they did 
their best under the circumstances. He had no 
faith in the idealism which expects to be carried 
through in a hop-skip and a jump reforms which 
will only be possible after generations or centuries 
of ethical social evolution. His evolution had 
taught him that progress is a step by step it may 
be an inch by inch matter, but that it always 
means movement in the forward direction. 

He joined the National Liberal Club, not because 
he was cut out for a club-man, or because he had 
the time to spend at a club, but because the club 
gave him occasional opportunities of mixing with 
men of all sorts and conditions in conversation, 
and of learning much of sides of human nature and 
spheres of activity that were outside his ordinary 
experience. It was his habit to lunch at the club 
on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the years 
of his regular service at The Christian World 
office. A member of the club has favoured me 
with a note of his impressions of " J.B." and his 
conversation : 

" J.B. was not what one would call a dazzling conversa 
tionalist, though his talk was brilliant, scintillating with 


Life in London 

humour and sparkling with wit and reminiscence. He was 
rather a brilliant monologist. He liked to do the lion s share 
of the talking. In fact he loved an audience. When in the club 
circle he was always eager to talk but reluctant to listen. 
About the time of the 1906 General Election he joined the 
National Liberal Club and two or three days a week went there 
to lunch. Gradually he became known to an ever -expanding 
circle of Free Churchmen who forgathered in the smoke room, 
and J.B. s presence in the group was always welcomed. He 
thoroughly enjoyed these impromptu little fraternal gatherings. 
And when he was there the group would swell in size. The 
range and scope of J.B. s interest and knowledge often 
amazed his fellow members at the N. L. C. Even on political 
matters his coffee table talk was distinguished. His mind 
was soaked in history and his spirit was democratic with a 
radicalism which was almost revolutionary in its revulsion 
from territorial tyrannies and hereditary privilege. The calm 
insolence with which the peers after the General Election of 
1906 set to work and smashed all the Liberal Government s 
legislative endeavours maddened J.B. His fury was quite 
explosive. But it was when conversation dropped away from 
politics into the realms of travel and literature or art that J . B. s 
table talk was most fascinating. His optimism never flickered. 
It was always in full flame. One day a Free Church minister 
and novelist gave utterance to a pessimistic plaint in J.B. s 
presence. He was almost shocked. No, no, you ve no right 
to be a pessimist, he said. I m the only man here with that 
right : but I m an optimist through and through. For the 
last twenty years I ve had an inside that has played all 
sorts of unconscionable tricks upon me. I never know when 
I get up in the morning whether I shall not before the end of 
the day have been sent to bed for a week or a fortnight. But 
every morning when I get up as I sit on the side of the bed and 
pull on my breeches I say to myself, Brierley, you old rascal, 
you get infinitely more than your deserts. After that 
occasion, pessimistic utterances were restrained in the presence 
of J.B. His optimism when he had so much right to 
be pessimistic silenced cheap pessimism." 


J. Brierley 

No one during his years in Fleet Street had 
closer intimacy with him than his colleague, Mr. 
F. H. Fisher, editor of The Literary World. Mr. 
Fisher says it would have been impossible to find 
a more genial soul, or one with a brighter outlook 
on life and more tolerant of other people s principles 
and prejudices. No one could imagine in conver 
sation with " J.B." that he was talking to a 
" parson." He was just a good natured, cultured 
Englishman, mellowed by years and very wide 
experience. An excellent raconteur, he delighted 
to tell of his travels and adventures. 

In one of the extracts in his Note-books, " J.B." 
quotes Hazlitt as saying that Coleridge in con 
versation was inspired and he could go on for 
ever, and the listeners wanted him to go on 
for ever. " J.B." was a good deal like that 
himself. Mr. Fisher recalls how once, at a 
breakfast table, " J.B." got going, and the party 
were so entranced that they forgot the break 
fast and everything was getting cold. One matter- 
of-fact young lady, however, who was of Koheleth s 
opinion that there is a time for all things, became 
impatient, and in shrill tones asked another lady to 
pass her something. There was a general horrified 
" Hush ! " " J.B." stopped short, took a look at 
the offender and resumed his talk ! For years after 
she was reminded of her high misdemeanour in 
checking the flow of the prophet s inspiration. 

As regards his chess, his colleague, Mr. Fisher, with 
whom he often played " not at the office," explained 
Mr. Fisher says : 


Life in London 

" We were both amateurs, but J.B. was as near to a 
professional as I have ever met. He was a very tricky player, 
and his favourite game was to sacrifice any piece to get position. 
He once explained that his model was a famous chess expert 
who had first tried his opponent by giving him a knight, and 
then a bishop, before taking any of his opponent s pieces, just 
in order to find out what his opponent s skill was. I know 
that very rarely did I win against him, and when I did, I 
counted it a red letter day." 

During his later years " J.B.," when the weather 
permitted, spent a good deal of his time in the park 
at Dollis Hill. He always loved the open air and 
drank in not only refreshment for the body but in 
spiration for the mind. He would sit for hours 
together on a seat reading and writing. The open air 
often got into his articles with bracing effect. 

Five or six years before the end, such health as 
" J.B." possessed began seriously to fail. There were 
alarming symptoms and his nerves became more and 
more shaky. He had to abandon work at the office 
and greatly to reduce his output at home. He clung, 
however, to his weekly essay as his great means of 
continuing his ministry to the world, and so far from 
his work showing any falling off in quality many of 
those essays of the last four years were equal to the 
best work he ever did. Sometimes there would be a 
break of several weeks when he was quite unequal to 
anything. He was begged from the office not prema 
turely to resume work, but as soon as he felt fit the 
craving for paper and pen and the impulse to soul 
deliverance took possession of him. Books which 
really were books for review he always welcomed, 
and his reviews were conscientious and often brilliant 



J. Brierley 

work. He was an eager learner to the very end, and 
the new books sent to him he regarded as means to 
his education. 

In The Christian World of February 5th, 1915, 
appeared an essay on " Life s Loose Ends." It was 
destined to be the last he was himself to see in print. 
It was one of his greatest achievements showing that 
the power of his intellect and his heart was un 
abated. He begins : 

" Benjamin Constant relates that he met once with a 
Piedmontese who gave him his confession of faith. He 
believed that the world was made by a God who had died before 
his work was completed. Only in this way could he account 
for the bewildering contradictions which he found everywhere ; 
on the one side the evident marks of law, order and beneficent 
design ; on the other hand, the confusions, the evils, the ragged 
edges of things. Everywhere an aim at perfection which had 
stopped short, a purpose uncompleted, if not frustrated. So 
our Piedmontese ; who certainly, amid the medley of cosmic 
theories with which philosophy has presented us, has the 
merit of offering one as quaint as it is> original. His solution 
is the last we should think of accepting, but he unquestionably 
had an eye for certain aspects of things which call for a 

" J.B. 5 treats the apparent incompleteness of 
things as God s challenge to man to continue His 
work and fill out the plan which He has sketched. 
We may well imagine how "J.B." wrote with feeling 
when he said : 

" There is a personal side to this topic which might well have 
occupied all our thought, but which we can now only briefly 
touch upon. How often do we seem, in our private fortunes, 
to be brought to a loose end ? Some source of supply has been 
stopped ; some door of career has been suddenly slammed in 


Life in London 

our face. The well-defined track we have followed has all at 
once disappeared we are faced with the wilderness, wherein 
we must strike a road of our own. Most of us who have lived 
any time in the world have had a touch of that experience. 
It is one of the greatest tests of character. We have been good 
enough for routine ; what good are we for this crisis of the 
unexpected ? It is here that strong men prove their strength. 
How often has that moment proved the starting point of 
mightiest things ! It was so with Wesley when he found 
himself in hopeless conflict with the Anglican authorities, 
and he must choose some other way. And with General Booth, 
his true successor, when on that fateful morning he left the 
New Connexion Conference, his terms rejected, his career as 
one of its ministers closed, and himself in face of a new, 
untried world. Spurgeon had his moment when by the 
strangest of accidents he missed his collegiate training. But 
these men made good, as the Americans say, of their loose 
end. And their example shows us how a loose end in life, 
encountered with courage and faith, may become to us our 
divine moment ; may prove the turning point to our true 
vocation. Assuredly no man, whether he be great or small, 
should be afraid of his loose ends. They are life s great 
possibles ; they call upon what is in us. The gulf that 
yawns in front reveals your leaping power. The seeming ruin 
may be the beginning of your better fortunes. The world is 
full of hopes for the man who has hope for himself. 

The way to master the world s loose ends is to have no loose 
ends in ourselves. Things may snap at the circumference, 
but there will be no catastrophe if there is soundness at the 
centre. A man may find his world tumbling around him, 
as when Robertson of Brighton saw the dogmatic structure of 
his earlier creed crumbling to ruin. He found himself with 
nothing to believe in but God and duty. But in that wild 
hour those central anchors held ; held till a clearer, fuller, 
saner, Gospel faith was born in him, a faith which proved 
good for thousands of other storm-tossed souls. The thing is 
to hold on and never to give up. Believe, in the tempest s 
fiercest hour, that the world you are in is water-tight, and is 


J. Brierley 

not going to founder. You are in a world of loose ends, and 
the handling of them calls for every atom of strength and 
courage that is in you. But the farthest ends of them are 
not loose. They are gripped by a hand that is Love and 

At the time of his death a sequel to " Life s Loose 
Ends," entitled " Our Possessions," was in the Editor s 
hands, and he had just completed another essay on 
" Religion and Buildings," which curiously exceeds 
his normal length of two-and-a-half columns. There 
is a note of reminiscence in each of these essays. 
He says in " Religion and Buildings " : 

" In our own early religious life we used to attend a Monday 
evening prayer meeting, held in a humble room over some 
stables in an inn yard. It was a stuffy, ill-ventilated, 
malodorous meeting place, amid the most incongruous surround 
ings. But never since have we experienced a greater power 
of religious emotion, of the pure spirit of fellowship, of prayer, 
faith, and rapturous devotion than in that crowded, ill-smelling 
room. When the surroundings are humblest the spirit mounts 
highest. It is the continuous complaint of the Fathers that 
when the Church came out of the back streets and from its 
humble conventicles to sumptuous buildings and worldly 
recognition, its early spirit declined, its purity was soiled." 


Sunset and The Clear Call 

EARLY in January, 1914, after an attack of influenza, 
" J.B." went to Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, to pull 
up strength. His old colleague on The Christian 
World staff, Mr. F. H. Fisher, was living at Westcliff , 
and it was he who, in The Christian World of February 
i2th, told the story of "J.B.V last days. He 
says : 

" For some five or six years past ill-health had dogged the 
footsteps of both of us, and I feared that the opportunity 
would never recur of hearing his beloved voice. But it had 
happened that J.B. came down to Westcliff-on-Sea to recruit 
after an attack of influenza at the beginning of the present 
year, and I learnt that he was staying in the very next road to 
that in which I have my residence. I called upon him the 
day after he arrived, and found him much aged and suffering 
from ear-ache, contracted, he believed, in a draughty railway 
carriage. The weather was extremely cold, and the ear trouble 
became worse in the next few days, so that he at last yielded 
to solicitations, and consented to see a doctor. This he had 
previously refused to do, jocularly remarking that he never 
saw doctors willingly, because it was bad enough to fight the 
disease, without having also to fight the doctor. Later he 
welcomed the attentions of the kindly medical man. J.B. 
was able to take short walks and enjoy the brilliant sunshine 
during the day, and also to do his full quota of work. One day 
Mrs. Brierley pressed upon him the necessity of slowing 
down. Surely, she said, you need not be always reading 


J. Brierley 

those heavy books, and might content yourself with writing 
your articles. But J.B. gave a shrug and said : As long 
as I live I must go on working. I have nothing else to do. 
To deprive me of that would be to take away the great joy of 
my life, or words to that effect. Indeed, he wrote about the 
same time to another colleague : You might send me some 
more books if you have anything really worth attention. I 
can do them at my leisure. I am more than willing to review 
good books. They are a help to one s own education. 

"Scarcely a day passed during the last month that I did not 
run in to see him, or he came to my house to have a talk and a 
game or two of chess the one recreation he allowed himself. 
On Saturday I sent a line over asking him to come in at 4.30 
to tea and chess. He came at the hour appointed, and after 
some talk on ordinary affairs we sat down to a game, a friend 
looking on. We had not progressed far when J.B. suddenly 
exclaimed, I feel faint, and fell back in his chair. His face 
became livid, his eyes closed, and he seemed to have ceased 
to breathe. 

" Fortunately there was a doctor living close by. He came 
in about a quarter of an hour, and diagnosed the case as one 
of cerebral embolism, telling us that death might take place 
at any moment. From that time until 10.30 he rallied con 
siderably, and was able to understand and give intelligible 
answers to questions. I was with him most of the time. At 
length he said, Don t talk to me any more, and I respected 
his wishes. Later he began again to talk. I m done. . . . 
I m done. . . . The end, the end, came from him 
at intervals, but he hardly seemed to have consciousness. At 
about 10 o clock he lapsed into a state of coma. His regular 
doctor came and recommended his removal to a nursing home 
in the next road. This was done with great tenderness and 
care, and without the patient showing any sign of suffering. 
That was the last I saw of him, for at II o clock on Sunday 
morning he passed away without, apparently, having recovered 

" J.B. s death was to all outward seeming as nearly painless 
as could be. No doubt a small blood-vessel had burst in the 


Sunset and The Clear Call 

brain, the consequence of that condition of the arteries which 
is the usual concomitant of old age. It may be said, therefore, 
that the body had worn out while leaving the mind in the 
fullest activity, as readers of J.B. s recent articles will readily 
acknowledge. It was a beautiful death, and one that might 
well be desired by us all if choice were given in such matters. 
To the last he retained the keenest interest in all human affairs, 
even such a matter as the Mexican anarchy being alluded to 
in his conversations, for J.B. , above all things, was practical, 
and no mere scholarly visionary, as some, who had not the 
privilege of knowing him intimately, may have deemed him." 

To this narrative may be added the characteristic 
incident that when " J.B." recovered consciousness 
he found himself being fanned with the current 
number of The Christian World containing his article 
on " Life s Loose Ends," and made a little joke on 
the irony of it. 

In the same number his pastor and friend, Dr. 
R. F. Horton, said : 

" He always reminded me of the Grammarian in The 
Grammarian s Funeral how honoured I should be to carry 
his worn frame to the heights and to leave him there racked 
with so many pains and compassed with infirmities, sight half 
gone, lungs ailing, locomotion impossible, he still continued 
at his investigation of the question of life ; he was still serene; 
there was no haste and no rest. He was of opinion that man 
has Forever. If he had known that he would die last Sunday 
he would have plunged into a new inquiry with the same zest 
on Saturday. He did not fear to leave loose ends when he 
finished here, for a master -hand was making the pattern, com 
pleting the work, there as here. And yet how unlike the 
Grammarian 1 His was not the problem of the enclitic 5e ; 
the formalities of grammar, of logic, were very secondary to 
him. It was life in its endless play and variety that interested 
him. Not only mind was active about him, but all minds 
were active to him, played upon him, entered into him. He 


J. Brierley 

was "a man of endless quotation, not because he could 
not think, or needed the expressions of others, but because 
what everyone said came home to him with piquancy and 
charm. He quoted because he liked to think that others were 
with him, that he was in the blithe company of thinkers, writers, 
poets, and he was pleased with the way in which Joubert or 
Merimee or Flaubert had happened to say just what he himself 
wanted to say. It was life, all life, that formed his style, and 
became the material of his work. There was no dry-as-dust 
about him. If dust came his way, he watered it, and made it 
the soil of a new bulb of thought. 

" Like the Grammarian in the physical limitations closing in 
upon him unlike the Grammarian in the theme he handled, 
the endless, glowing, various theme of man in the universe. 
Much more reassuring than mere scholarship can ever be, he 
reported hopefully, confidently, buoyantly, of life. We who 
saw him labouring under the disabilities, we who knew the past, 
and what life had cost him, looked in amazement at this irre 
pressible gaiety. R. L. Stevenson was gay, in the sense that 
he would never be beaten. Willy-nilly life should yield a value, 
if it was not there it should be imagined ; if it would not come 
of itself, it should be captured by art. But J.B. seriously 
found the world and all its problems teeming with promise. 
He was optimistic, not by an effort of the will, but by a gift 
of insight. When the cruel medical verdict banished the young 
minister of Balham from the pulpit, and that rare eloquence of 
easy speech and racy expression was silenced, in effect for his 
life-time, it never so much as occurred to him that his work 
was done ; only the venue was altered. He did not excuse 
himself from effort because speaking was forbidden and his 
chosen career was closed. He withdrew to the healthy sur 
roundings of Switzerland, mastered French, mastered French 
literature, forged a philosophy of life, which took no account 
of his own misfortunes. Who could have guessed that it was 
a broken and disappointed man piecing together the fc.cts of 
the world, to see, with the Creator, that it was all good ? 

" And was it not good ? If J.B. had continued to be the 
pastor of Ba]ham, he would have trodden the usual round of 


Sunset and The Clear Call 

ministerial success ; he would have given Congregational 
lectures, he would have been Chairman of the Union ; he would 
have published volumes of sermons, he would have been asked 
to deliver the Lyman Beecher lectures at Yale. He would 
have been a D.D. but J.B. he would never have been. His 
audience would have been limited, and would have 
run along the stereotyped lines. It was a wise and loving Hand 
that took him from the pulpit and shut him in his study, that 
silenced his voice, to make him use his pen. Take up any one 
of these volumes of essays, even the first, but follow the series 
with their never failing vitality and endless resources, and you 
pronounce even from the first this unhesitating opinion : This 
work could never have been done in a pulpit ; a pulpit would 
have prevented it from being done. 

"The essay was precisely the form which suited his genius. 
Even if he had been healthy and robust, he would probably 
not have excelled in hard continuous thinking. In the 
American phrase, it was not his metier to think conclusively. 
He thought suggestively. The Christian World gave him a 
golden opportunity. To write on what he liked, and as he 
liked, to be committed to no conclusions, was just what he 
wanted. He felt the immense value of raising questions, 
following them a certain way, getting glimpses of light on them 
from many quarters, and then leaving them unanswered. He 
did not want to answer questions. What a dull universe it 
would be in which the questions were all answered ! Who wants 
finality who, at least, that has Forever ? 

"And yet for the constant reader of his essays answers were 
constantly coming. Where dogma irritates, where the 
pronouncement ex cathedrd only makes Protestants, the 
brilliant, playful mind, gaily raising, handling and laying 
down the problems of life, helps the thoughtless to think, and 
elicits out of the reader s own breast the power to find the 

" His mind was so sparkling, so dazzling, so informing, and yet 
it was so free from pedantry, from dogma, from intellectual 
tyranny, that we all conceived for him what Spindza would 
have called an intellectualis amor. Not that we did not love 


J. Brierley 

him as a man, as the most loyal of friends, the most agreeable 
of companions, but we loved him chiefly as a Mind. The mind 
was lovable even when it did not carry conviction. It gave one 
the feeling of a high-spirited youth, whose sallies are not the less 
agreeable because they provoke argument, or even rebuke. 
It is that Mind, that many-fountained mountain-peak of 
thought and observation, that we must now for a time do 

No passing of the months before the War was 
mourned with a deeper sense of the loss of a loved 
friend and teacher than that of " J. B. " At the funeral 
service, at Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church, 
on February I3th, about 250 ministers of all denom 
inations were present. The first part of the service 
was conducted by Dr. Alfred Rowland. In his 
address, Dr. Horton deprecated any extremity of 
grief. Against that, " J.B." had himself warned them. 

"He has," he said, "been the most fascinating teacher, 
and no one who has come under the spell of his writings and of 
his soul thinks of him only as a writer, but always as a master 
and a teacher. He has taught us the serener and more 
optimistic view of the universe in which we live. He said : 

" On a local and narrow outlook we call ourselves bankrupt, 
forgetting that we are shareholders in a universe which is 
entirely solvent. It is amazing how clever people will torture 
themselves. Why lament with Pope that all things will be as 
gay as ever on the day of our death ? Is the world to turn drab 
because we have passed out of it ? Must it 

Make one mad to see what men should do 

And we in our graves ? 

It were better surely while we are hereto make possible a 
better doing and being for those who come after, when the 
grave does get us. 

" What a mercy it is that he has spoken such blithe words and 
is speaking them to us to-day ! For instance, he tells us that : 


Sunset and The Clear Call 

"Death remains for us all a great venture. "Who knows/ 
says Euripides, "if life be death and death life ? " On that 
" Who knows," the great " Perhaps," countless multitudes of 
our fellow men have been content to live and die. To us, 
with all the light that comes from both science and religion, 
the step from " here " to "there " we have all to take remains 
still a step into the unknown. The mystery of living is kept 
up to its last moment. We are to be on tip-toe all the time. 
The soul is not allowed to support itself on any other material 
than faith. And that it is so is surely well ; for us it is best 
so. Were certainty and clear vision better we should have 
had it. But we are to trust the whole way and go by trusting. 
Wejhave been led too well and too graciously to permit of our 
believing that we shall be fooled at the last. 

" How blithe, how brave, is his note in the very shadow of 
death ! 

" I cannot help quoting also words you will recognise a little 
passage which is that from all literature that I think he would 
wish quoted to-day. It is from the Phsedo of Plato, the 
sublime words of Socrates that soul who passed away so 
sharply and cheerily : 

Let a man be of good cheer about his soul if only he has 
arrayed her in her proper jewels Temperance and Justice, 
and Courage, and Nobility and Truth. Thus arrayed she 
will be ready when the hour comes to start on her journey to 
the other world. And there she will dwell in mansions fairer 
than this. 

" I need not explain to those who knew him why it seems to 
me he would have wished me to quote from Plato rather than 
from the New Testament. To some minds it might seem that 
J.B. s teaching did not express a very definite faith in our 
blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What I wish to say 
is this : that it was J.B. s task, his own allotted task, and 
it became more his task as his work went on, and he recognised 
the extent of his power, to stand at the cross-roads where faith 
and unfaith diverge. Standing there, surveying, considering, 
looking steadily and dispassionately at the alternatives, he 
induced multitudes who were in a state of indecision to enter 


J. Brierley 

the way of faith. If he had used the language of faith, and 
spoken as we speak in the pulpits, he would have lost the ear 
of the large, indeterminate mass, to whom his wisdom and 
reasonableness were a Godsend. He did his work for Christ 
in his own way, and we do not presume, in speaking from 
what we know, when we say that it is Christ who has met him 
on the other side with Well done, good and faithful servant 
faithful unto death ! 

"For twenty-one years he was a member of this church. 
While he could, he was in that seat, his face reverent, eager, 
friendly. He felt at home there, and in his place. This church 
has never welcomed a more elect and salutary soul, and while 
a much wider Church to which he ministered feels his loss 
so acutely we cannot help laying our own wreath of immortelles 
upon the bier, and breathing a prayer of devout gratitude 
that we enjoyed Ms fellowship so long. 

4 Let me close these few broken words by quoting from a letter 
received from J.B. s beloved son, Rev. Harold E. Brierley, 
whose brilliant success in his ministry was the dearest joy of 
his father : 

Our dear " J.B." passed silently and swiftly to his rest at 
Westclifi on Sunday. I was summoned, and went with all 
speed, but was too late to see him alive. It is my mother s 
wish and mine, and I know it would have been his. that the 
service should be in Lyndhurst-road, and that you should 
conduct it. By his own wish we shall proceed afterwards 
to the Crematorium at Colder s Green. My mother and I 
would like Dr. Rowland, one of his oldest and dearest friends, 
to take some part in the service. I cannot trust myself to 
write about it all. The world is poorer now. As I have told 
Dr. Rowland, one great verse has been singing itself in my 
mind all day, which might have been written of him : 

One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward, 

Never doubted clouds would break ; 
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would 


Held, we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to 


Sunset and The Clear Call 

" Stevenson s own great epitaph fits him so well, too, who 
was to like Stevenson in the great joyous fight be made against 
ill-health and adversity : 

Glad did I live and gladly die, 

And I lay me down with a will. 

This be the vane you shall grave for me : 

Here he lies where he longed to be ; 

Home is the sailor, home from the sea. 

And the hunter home from the hill. 

" I looked my last on the dear facethis afternoon at Westclift, 
and " his face was as it were the face of an angel." " 

After prayer by Dr. Horton, the hymn, " For alJ 
Thy saints, who from their labours rest/ was sung 
with deep emotion, and the Benediction was pro 
nounced. Chopin s " Marche Fun^bre " was played 
by the organist, and afterwards " O rest in the Lord." 

The body was then borne out of the church, 
with the family and Dr. Horton following, and was 
conveyed to Golder s Green Crematorium, where 
Dr. Horton pronounced the committal sentences. 

So let the story end of one who tasted with zest the 
cup of life to its last drop, and who sweetened that 
cup to thousands who were finding in it the Waters 
of Bitterness. The soul of " J.B." will march on in 
all those lives made better by his presence, and 
hundreds who preach in pulpits and write in the 
press will pass on the spirit and the messages he 
communicated to them until their day s work too 
is done. 




J.B." as Preacher 


(Notes of a Sermon) 

"Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience 
of Christ." 2 Corinthians x. 5. 

I. I PROPOSE to speak this evening about Chris 
tianity and our thought life. I will begin what I have 
to say by a personal reminiscence. Some years ago 
when travelling in France I met a countryman of 
mine who had been domiciled there for some years 
and had got into their way of thinking and of living. 
Our conversation turned on religion. I well remem 
ber him saying, as though it was a clincher which 
settled everything, " See what an impossible religion ! 
It positively proposes to take control of my very 
thoughts." And he did not seem at all affected 
by my argument that a religion was not going to 
do anything for us that did not take precisely 
this thought-region as its sphere of work. There 
are a good many people about who think like 
him. You get a religion which, while satisfying 
people s emotional life, will let them go easy as to 
private habits and it will be popular. The old 
paganism was a popular enough religion. Yes, and 
if you had your religious festivals like theirs, where 


"J.B." as Preacher 

you had Bacchanalian feasting and dancing, where 
every lustful inclination was gratified, and where, 
while people engaged in these things, they flattered 
themselves that they were serving religion, no doubt 
you would soon get a crowd. The question, " Why 
men don t go to church ? " would never be raised. 
But the New Testament will have nothing to do with 
this kind of religion. It in no way regards a crowd 
as the essential thing. It proposes instead to take 
hold of the man and lift him up. Yes, if you want a 
low type, please beware of Christianity. It is dead 
against you. It is such a dreadfully radical affair. 
Once it gets fairly hold of you it has not done with you 
till it has turned you upside down and inside out. 

II. If you want an illustration of this action, I 
recommend you to read John Bunyan, in that mar 
vellous human document of his, " Grace Abounding." 
He tells us of the three grades of work which the New 
Testament performed in him. First of all, it won him 
to the act of allegiance to Christ. Christ took him 
to God as his Master. Next it effected a work of 
separation from his old habits, his old haunts, his old 
companions. But (3) there was a yet more difficult 
operation. Somewhile after he became a Christian 
he played with his thoughts. His old bad life broke 
out in him ever and anon, and a fountain of black 
water spoured its muddy streams over his soul. It 
seemed as if from the back chambers of his brain a 
horde of imps and demons of the night came forth 
and swarmed over his new life ? He had to struggle 
for his faith for a long while before he could exorcise 
the demons and obtain a clean interior. 


J. Brierley 

III. " But that was a man in the back time of the 
seventeenth century while all our thought world is 
in the twentieth century." But what a glorious 
thing it is to live in such a century ! You talk about 
the British Empire. But what is the Empire com 
pared with the realm which you possess ? The 
British Empire is a mere parish boundary compared 
with the viewless realm of our thought. Our thought 
world is our real world. What are we doing there 
from day to day in our life. What are we making 
of it ? It is a vast realm, but oh ! how neglected ! 
The British Empire has its thousands of miles of 
sheer wilderness. But in that inner realm of ours 
we could make every inch rich with flowers and fruit, 
could open it to the highest inspirations, perfumed 
with the very breath of heaven. Instead, most of us 
are content with cultivating a narrow band on the 
outer edge, scratching the surface for a few kitchen 
vegetables and the rest is as barren as Sahara. 

IV. There is a great work to be done here. Let 
us see how the Apostle puts it " Bringing every 
thought into subjection." I imagine that he here 
means the whole internal life. Psychologists, you 
know, divide our inner world into compartments. 
They speak of thought, feeling, volition. That does 
very well for analysis, but if you imagine what goes 
on inside you, you find that the machinery acts as 
practically one. Thus, for instance, thought is full 
of feeling. Our ideas float in an atmosphere of feeling 
which colours them. On the other hand feeling, 
say our feeling about a man or an event, is full of 
ideas and facts, and then our volition is always a 


"J.B." as Preacher 

result of thought and feeling. Paul proposes that 
all this shall be in subjection to Christ. 

V. A great many people, cultivated men of 
to-day, on hearing talk of this sort, feel compelled 
to revolt against it. " Subjection of thought to 
Christ ! This to them is to put their mind in chains, 
They imagine it is a kind of sordid narrowness in 
which we propose to plunge them. Such a man runs 
over the inventory of things he is asked to give up. 
Nothing is left in the way of a broad and joyous out 
look over literature. He must give up his Goethe, 
Shakespeare, Dickens. To take to religion means 
that he must take to appalling theological reading 
Boston s "Fourfold State," or Goodwin on "Justifi 
cation by Faith." As to music he must content 
himself with hymns, with selections from Moody and 
Sankey, with the Scottish version of the Psalms. In 
science he must not look at such naughty things as 
Darwinism, or anything contradicting the sixteenth 
century interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He 
pictures to himself an interior dark and dreary, a 
drab world with no gleam of humour. Everything 
is grey and glimmering as a light at the bottom of 
a well. 

VI. Numbers of people think like that about these 
propositions and they have some reason for it. 

My heart bleeds, and my blood boils, as I think of 
the terrible persecution which religion has undergone 
at the hands of these teachers, and which has turned 
men away from it in disgust. I can sympathise 
with such people. I went right through this ex 
perience when quite young. I think I was always 



J. Brierley 

a little mystic. I know how full my soul was of 
religion. Heaven and earth seemed full of God and 
His glory. But as I grew up it was like the weather 
we have been having lately, where a day began in 
brightness and got cloudy later on. I came in contact 
with the theology of forty years ago, theology made 
in the dark ages, which caused me to shudder and 
revolt. If ever there was a despairing sceptic it was 
" J.B." at sixteen. What could I get out of it ? 
I got a revelation. It came to me in my reading of 
the New Testament. Faith, I found, is one thing, 
and men s opinions and creeds are another. I saw 
what a fool I was to allow myself to be cheated out 
of my interest in God and Christ and the New Testa 
ment and the fellowship of the saints. I have kept 
to that ever since. Yes, God, Christ, the Bible, these 
are mine for ever, and they may be yours. Young 
people, keep to these ! Don t let anybody teach you 
harsh doctrines of God ; cheat you out of your 
spiritual inheritance. When you eat fish you need 
not swallow the bones. See for yourselves, take 
what you can and grow by it. 

VII. Then there is this aspect of Christian free 
dom. Do you think Paul s position really limits 
your intellectual outlook and activity ? Let us see 
how the matter stands. When he speaks of the 
Christian s subjection of the thought world, he speaks 
of Christ as the representative of the Divine. To 
me Christ and God are interchangeable. To Paul, 
Christ, as he lived on earth, was all of God that could 
be put into human life. And the man Christ he knew 
was all of God that could come into relation to man. 


"J.B." as Preacher 

Christ was the personality of God on the human side. 
So His idea is that our thought world, to be 
brought into a healthy condition, is just to be 
patterned on God s thought world and to be united 
to it by a living tie. Is that a thing to limit and 
cramp us ? Oh, if it were possible to a human soul, 
it is surely the grandest thing that can happen to it. 
To get hold of it better, let me try and illustrate it 
in one or two departments, and I could not do better, 
perhaps, than follow the objections we a moment or 
two ago imagined our critic as making. 

VIII. He thought, for instance, that this sub 
jection of thought to Christ would narrow his 
intellectual outlook. His science, he thought, would 
be Church science, outworn notions of the Middle 
Ages. He must not look at evolution for fear of 
orthodoxy. Well, there are certain ecclesiastical 
systems that say all that. But, thank God, not ours. 
The Protestant Free Churchism of to-day knows 
nothing of them. We have learnt Pascal s lesson 
that the first of Christian principles is that truth 
must be loved first of all. And with that to guide 
us we are not afraid of any new discovery. The fresh 
scientific fact may be very new and startling to us, 
upsetting to our traditional notions, but it is not in 
the least new or startling to our Heavenly Father. 
When fifty years ago the Darwinian theory burst on 
the world it produced a prodigious pother in the 
Christian Churches. But there was no pother in the 
mind of God. Whatever is true in evolution was 
quite familiar to Him. If God is not startled, why 
should we be ? We know now that no truth of 


J. Brierley 

science can do a farthing s worth of damage to 
genuine religion. Oh, this text will make us want 
to know all we can of the universe of God, and the 
more we know of the universe the more we know of 
its Maker, and the more we know of Him the better 
we can serve and obey and love. 

IX. But then our friend argued from his artistic 
side. What, for instance, would happen to his 
music ? Why, nothing. So far from being harmed 
he would find that if he looked deep enough the only 
way for him to get the greatest music is to get the 
mind patterned on God s mind. The theologians 
have not thought enough on this side. I believe the 
great principles of religion could be proved by the 
fact of music alone. Nothing argues so wonderfully 
of man s Divine origin, of the spiritual universe he 
belongs to, of the inseparable relation of his soul to 
God, as a study of musical laws. What a course of 
sermons could be preached here ! All great music 
is a revelation from God. All the great masters of 
music are so simply as interpreters and disciples of 
His mind here. Your Beethoven and Mozart 
created nothing. They simply observed what was 
there before them. The laws of musical harmony 
with which they dealt are laws of God. You cannot 
add to or take from them, not by a hair s breath. 
And that mysterious thrill of our inmost soul when 
a great harmony sweeps across it, what is it but the 
response of the ears of the human to the impact of 
the Divine ? These great masters were not always 
saints in their moral life, but in this matter they 
studied and obeyed God in one department of His 


"J.B. Vas Preacher 

laws, they served Him to the utmost of their powers 
in their art. I repeat, it would be the better for the 
rest of us if we studied and obeyed the Divine laws. 
So Paul s way is the way to perfection in all the great 
arts of life. 

X. And to carry this a point further. Our friend 
has a notion that if his mind squared with the Divine 
mind there would be an end to life s pleasantry, its 
gaiety, its humour. There would be a drab world, 
too terribly solemn. Where did that notion come 
from ? Certainly not from the New Testament. 
The New Testament, though some have failed to 
discover it, is full of suggestions of laughter and 
gladness. The parables, most of them, have humour 
as a back-ground. The children playing and piping 
in the market place. When the prodigal comes back 
he is welcomed with music and dancing. Strange 
that theology has so frequently forgotten this ! 
Theology has occupied itself with the world s sin, 
sorrow, tears, but would it not have been better to 
have taken fuller note of the world s humour and 
laughter ? That is a part of the cosmic scheme. 
No humour in man, indeed ! and yet there is humour 
in God. Where does the human soul get its light- 
hearted laughter, so very human ? Did man manu 
facture it ? If you think so try to get it in or out of 
man. No kind of surgical operation will produce it. 
But if man did not create it, who did ? None could 
have created it but the Maker of the human mind. 
I love to think of this aspect of the Divine nature. 
It explains so much. It suggests so much. And 
the problem is easily solved. When you see children 


J. Brierley 

at play, the lambs skipping, or listen to the grotesque 
imitations of a parrot, and ascend from these things 
to the play of wit in a Cervantes or a Shakespeare, 
what is it but the broad genial smile of our Heavenly 
Father who looks upon the world and finds it good ? 

XL Well, that is an imperfect analysis of our 
principle, but it is sufficient to show what an incred 
ible mistake men make when they want to shut God 
from their life. Why, they are shutting out the sun 
shine. You cannot come to your best in any 
department till you have opened your whole being to 
His approach. 

XII. I have been too long on these points, for 
it has left me no time for what I wanted specially to 
tell you. I have been, as it were, on the defensive 
against opponents. But I wanted to say something 
more, and to push home by a positive consideration 
that if you want a life worth living and a glad time 
not only on a Sunday, but on a Monday and all the 
week, you must learn the secret of the mind of Christ. 
How our thought world is conditioned by the 
atmosphere of feeling in which the thought flows ! 
Now, the speciality of the Christian thought world is 
in its atmosphere. And Christ is the atmosphere. 
You know in the outside world everything depends 
on that. I shall never forget a scene in Switzerland. 
I tramped with a friend one stormy evening towards 
an elevated plateau. We found a chalet where we 
spent the night. Dark clouds covered the heavens. 
A lake beneath us was forbidding in its gloom. The 
black rocks glowered on us with a demon scowl. 
Rain beat on us, the fierce wind bellowed around. It 


"J.B." as Preacher 

was a terrible and forbidding world we were in. But 
we reached shelter and after supper came rest and 
sleep. Next morning we woke early. We threw 
open the shutters. Then what a scene ! It was the 
same world and yet could it be ? Yes, but now it 
was Paradise we were looking on. The lake glittered 
like an emerald. The mountains were as pedal 
organs clad in flawless white. The sky was cloudless, 
opening into heaven. And it was just a change of 
atmosphere ! And what a different world to all of 
us the atmosphere makes ! Some are in Paradise 
and others in Inferno, and it is all but a difference 
in atmosphere. The Christian thought world is 
charged with faith and love. The Christian who is 
really so goes about with a beaming face because he 
has learned the great secret, and that secret is faith. 
XIII. The Christian life of faith, do you know 
what that is ? It is so easy to talk about. I re 
member when, as a young man, I started preaching, 
my first sermon was on justification by faith. Oh ! 
these young preachers ! They will take big themes, 
and they are so cocksure about their doctrine. I 
don t fancy I knew much about it. I have learned 
a thing or two since then. Faith ! It is the practice 
of the presence of God. It is seeing Him everywhere 
and in everything. You see the trees putting their 
new clothes on in spring. Why it is God working 
visibly before your eyes ! You find it difficult to 
discern God in the events of your life. There is a hard 
crust on them outside, but the kernel of an event is 
always spiritual. Get into the habit of taking every 
event as a message from the Father. How people 


J. Brierley 

miss that secret ! I met a man one day, a man in a 
good position. He had a flourishing business, a 
charming home, he was a man of culture, but he was 
horribly depressed. What was the matter ? " Oh, 
nothing is the matter," he said to me, " but I have a 
feeling as if something is going to happen to me." 
I laughed, Why yes, if we wait long enough some 
thing is going to happen to us all. But oh, our God 
has given to simple souls this marvellous gift to have 
our fortune linked on to His, to know what happens 
to us is part of His purpose in us, and that our whole 
business is to trust Him to the end in simple reliance 
on His infinite and eternal love. Now that is the 
kind of feeling a man gets when his thought world is 
subject unto Christ. 


"J.B." as Lecturer 


IN the later years of his ministry and his early years 
as journalist, " J.B." was very popular as a lecturer. 
There is a lecture on " Ignatius Loyola," which is a 
very striking illustration alike of his eclecticism and 
his intense interest in personality, especially religious 
personality. The lecture must have occupied an 
hour and a half in delivery. It is given here with 
some curtailment and condensation. 

Great men are the world s centres of force. 
Coming in contact with them, even in thought, will 
tend to give our own characters, unless they be of 
the heaviest sort, something of the swing and 
momentum of their own. I think it is quite time 
that Protestants, in their search for spiritual heroes, 
should cease to confine themselves to the too narrow 
boundaries of their own communions. If we are 
wise we shall feel that we cannot afford, for the sake 
of a name or of differences of religious thought, 
however serious, to lose the inspiration which comes 
from the study of men whose purity and self-sacrifice 
have made their characters illustrious. In this spirit 
I paint the picture of Loyola. 


J. Brierley 

He was born in 1491. It was a wonderful age to 
be born in. Eight years earlier Martin Luther had 
come into the world. One believed with all his soul 
that he was commissioned of God to pull down a 
great religious system, the other equally believed 
that he was commissioned by the same Power to 
build it up, and both under these opposing convictions 
laboured with amazing ardour and wonderful success. 
Loyola was a year old when Christopher Columbus 
started on the voyage that was to issue in the opening 
up of a new world. That same spirit of adventure 
we may find in the explorations which Loyola 
conducted through the regions of spiritual 

The bluest blood of Spain flowed in his veins. 
His father, Don Bertram, was Lord of Loyola and 
Ognez in Guipuzcoa, a province of Biscay. His 
mother, Donna Maria Salez di Baldi, was of equally 
illustrious birth. War was then the one pursuit for 
men of spirit. Loyola, as a young man, took his 
place in the brilliant court of Charles V. Men said, 
and the ladies were not behind in endorsing the state 
ment, that the king s dominions did not furnish a 
handsomer form, a higher spirit, a more aristocratic, 
but withal a winsome bearing, than were combined 
in the youthful Loyola. He fought bravely in the 
wars, but it was other battles he was born to 
fight. He was thirty years of age when, defending 
Pampeluna against the French, he was struck by a 
cannon shot which brought him down with a broken 
leg. That cannon shot meant much for the religious 
fortunes of the world. Loyola was carried wounded, 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

as it seemed nigh to death, to his father s castle of 
Loyola. The doctor gave him up. Romish 
biographers say that Peter appeared to him and 
effected a cure. It seems odd, however, that the cure 
was so imperfect that it left Loyola with one leg 
shorter than the other, and a piece of bone protruding 
from beneath the knee. It says much for the man s 
fortitude that, in order to cure himself of the lameness, 
he had the piece of bone sawn off and the short leg 
stretched on the rack. He whiled away the hours 
he lay in bed by reading the lives of the saints, 
especially the doings of Francis and Dominic. These 
lives stirred a new ambition in him. He would follow 
in their steps. He would penetrate, as they had, 
the deepest recesses of the valley of humiliation. 
The Catholic biographers speak of a peculiar action 
of Divine grace in leading to this decision. There 
may have been an earthly motive. A skilful reader 
of character could see that one of the deepest purposes 
of that man s heart was a purpose to rule. He must 
rule. He had been born of a race of rulers. He was 
himself cut out and moulded for the ancestral trade. 
Sway and Empire were written on his capacious 
brow and were revealed in his flashing eyes. 

But now we have our hero swung round to a 
new life purpose. We have seen the process by 
which the great change was effected; nothing 
more nor less than the reading over a musty old book 
and ruminating thereon. Mark particularly that 
it was one book, or if a set of books, that they all 
bore upon one topic. I cannot forbear observing 
that if circulating libraries had existed in those days, 


J. Brierley 

and had Ignatius followed his reading of the Lives 
of the Saints by a selection of three volume-novels, 
or of magazine literature and penny papers, in all 
probability he would never have been heard of 
by us. The chances are exceedingly remote that 
he would have formed the subject of a lecture in 
the nineteenth century as the founder of one 
of the most powerful religious orders the world 
has ever seen. 

Let me stop here, then, and say one word about 
this business of book reading. If a man wants 
in reading simply to amuse himself, or to extend his 
information, then, of course, Mr. Mudie s library 
is the place for him to apply to the wider the range, 
the greater the choice of subjects the better. 
But if he reads that he may brace up his mind to 
the height of some lofty purpose (and alas for the 
man who has never done that in the course of his 
life ! ) then, as I take it, the proper thing for him 
is to be, as Loyola was at this time, a man of one 
book, or at least of one kind of book. He may 
afterwards, when the set of habits, to the making 
of which he is now bending his powers, are formed 
and crystallised into enduring hardness, read as 
others read, for instruction or for amusement, and 
so wander easily into all sorts of literary company ; 
but to do this in the habit-forming time, when the 
life purpose is as yet a mere pulp without bone, 
a furrow just begun to be opened, is simply ruination. 
If I hear that a man has been reading and re-reading 
a great book, specially if it be great in heart power, 
I shall look for something from him ; from the 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

man who reads only third-rate books and reads these, 
moreover, indiscriminately, in higgledy-piggledy 
fashion, I expect nothing, and don t look to be 
disappointed in that expectation. 

We turn now again to Loyola. Having formed 
his purpose he was not slow to put it into 
execution. We see him one fine morning, having 
got free from bed-chamber, physicians and boluses, 
riding away on horseback from the castle of Loyola. 
A few miles away from the city of Barcelona, on a 
craggy wind-swept mountain height, there stands 
the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat. That 
is the place he is making for. Reaching it, after a 
few adventures in the wood, he forthwith dedicates 
himself solemnly to the service of God. There 
is a church connected with the monastery and there 
one night we find him alone. He takes off his 
sword, and hanging it up on one of the pillars, by 
that act bids farewell to his old calling of arms. 
Through the long remaining hours of that night he 
continues there alone, prostrate on the ground 
before the altar, confessing his sins, recording his 
vows. As the morning light streams through the 
windows of the sacred pile, he rises from his vigil 
and passes out. His new life has begun. Ignatius 
Loyola, the gay and courtly knight, is a dream 
of the past ; henceforth he is the devotee, the 
beggar monk, the man of the wandering foot and 
of the homeless head. He has begun now his period 
of penance, that extraordinary process of self- 
mortification by which he proposes to educate his 
character for his future work. It is a long, painful, 


J. Brierley 

but withal most singular story for any one who 
chooses to go through it. At Montserrat, and after 
wards at the neighbouring monastery of Manreza, 
to which he removed, we find him going through 
such feats of fasting, flagellations, vigils, as would 
make an Indian fakeer mad with envy. There is 
scarcely a thing in the shape of work or position 
which you can conceive of as most repugnant to 
flesh and blood but he embraced with eagerness. 
Born to riches, he begged his bread from door to 
door ; accustomed to every indulgence, we see 
him now passing often a whole week without food, 
and allowing himself no sleep except at intervals 
when his wearied body sinks of itself exhausted 
on bare ground ; surrounded once and ministered 
to by troops of obsequious servants, he performs 
now for others the most menial offices ; if in 
hospital there is a case so loathsome that professional 
nurses are driven away in disgust, Ignatius is there 
to embrace the charge. 

To all this, moreover, were added such daily 
and nightly spiritual struggles, such agonies of 
remorse for sin, such soul-racking longings for a 
seemingly unattainable good, as made the outer 
trials seem insignificant. Amongst the performances 
of this period is to be numbered a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem. People nowadays make pilgrimages to 
Jerusalem. But between the modern devotee who 
with well-filled purse does the journey by first-class 
railway carriage and a state cabin in a Peninsular 
and Oriental steamer, having all trouble taken 
out of his hands by his obliging courier, or even 


"J,B." as Lecturer 

by the humbler process of taking a Cook s excursion 
ticket between this modern specimen of a pilgrim 
and Ignatius Loyola, travelling without a penny 
in his purse, trusting entirely to providence and 
the alms he might receive in the countries he 
passed through, starved one day, struck down 
with ague the next, and shipwrecked on the third 
between these two, I say, there is a difference in point 
of self-sacrifice and religious hardihood which I 
hope we shall not be so unjust to our hero as to 

Thus much of Loyola s penances. Now, asks the 
thoughtful inquirer, what do they all mean ? What 
in the first place was their meaning to Loyola 
himself ? Why these vigils, these fastings, these 
self-immolations ! Will it be uncharitable if I 
suggest, as a first reason, his vast ambition ? He had 
read of Benedict, of Francis, to what lengths they had 
gone in these directions. Loyola must not be behind. 
Just as, had he kept to war as his calling, nothing 
less than supreme honour and command would 
have contented him, so in this vocation of saintship 
he will have no second place. He must be able 
to say to the saintly names of the past, " Ye have 
watched and prayed and fasted, but I more ! " 
If we are discriminating, however, in our 
analysis, let us also be just. That also Ignatius 
Loyola loathed himself because of past sin, that 
he panted and thirsted for holiness, that his soul 
yearned with inexpressible longing for complete 
reconciliation and fellowship with his God, nothing 
but the most blind prejudice could deny. 


J. Brierley 

" But," says some sleek, well-fed representative 
of modern comfort, " supposing his intentions 
were mainly pure, what insane folly to suppose 
that all this self-torture could in the least benefit 
him ! " Well, granted that he was mistaken, 
yet, my friend, so well-fed as you are, somehow 
I think I should be inclined to respect you rather 
more if I saw in you, which I do not, the possibility 
of making a similar mistake. Ignatius Loyola 
believed he had a soul which wanted saving and 
purifying, and that belief, taken even with all 
the mistakes it led him into, was to our thinking 
something immeasurably nobler than that modern 
creed which deifies the human stomach and which 
teaches us that to keep this well nourished is the 
whole duty of man. Ignatius Loyola made a mis 
take in seeking perfection in this way. But after 
all, is it not in this very business of mistake-making 
that the very greatest men have often shown to 
the best advantage? What is the history of 
scientific progress but a history of mistakes, first 
made, then found out, then made the guide-posts 
to true knowledge ? No astronomer will laugh 
as he thinks of Kepler spending month after month 
in endeavours to strike out a theory which should 
reconcile the real motion of the planets with their 
movements as seen by the eye. But all the schemes 
he thought of were mistakes, all except the last. 
But he had never got to that last, to the right one, 
viz., to that one which established for ever his fame 
and widened so vastly the horizon of human 
knowledge, had he not gone through all that 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

blundering before. If we do not laugh at Kepler, 
the daring explorer of the heavens, shall we 
laugh at Loyola for seeking by the same process 
of experiment and mistake-making to explore the 
mysteries of his own soul, and to solve the 
problems connected with the attainment of spiritual 
perfection ? 

We shall be still less inclined to laugh at these 
mortifications when we think of the results he 
got out of them. One, not the least notable, was 
this very belief that he had been mistaken. After 
having starved and beaten himself almost to death, 
he got out of it all this conclusion, which most of 
us will think a wise one, that starving and beating, 
the whole process in fact of riding rough-shod 
over the bodily nature, is not the royal road into 
God s Kingdom far otherwise. 

That teaching, gained from experience, he gave 
to his followers, and to this day the Jesuits are 
distinguished from other Roman Catholic religious 
orders by the omission among them of fasting 
and flagellation as necessary parts of their discipline. 

But a perhaps more momentous consequence of 
this ascetic retirement was the production of a 
book, his sole literary performance, which has 
produced a prodigious effect in the direction its 
author intended, which bears on every page the 
impress of his genius, and also of the profound 
experiences through which he himself had gone. 
This is the far famed "Book of the Exercises." 
And what, some ask, is the book about ? In brief, 
it may be described as a sort of patent conversion 



J. Brierley 

machine. Having himself gone through every 
phase of feeling between spiritual despair and 
triumph, and having watched with the eye of a 
philosopher each phase as he passed through it, 
and noted the causes which seemed to produce 
it, he has in this extraordinary book put down 
the results of his experience as a guide for others. 
It gives directions for a training of forty days 
in duration, which are to be passed in seclusion 
from the world and each of which is to be occupied 
with the subjects of contemplation which the 
book enjoins. The topics of the first week are all 
designed for bringing the disciple into a state of 
contrition for and horror of his past sins. In the 
second week he is led forward to making the great 
choice of his heavenly and earthly calling wherein 
he makes election of the Son of Man for his leader, 
and of that sphere in the world where he can best 
serve Him. In the third week the exercises are 
for the confirming him in his resolve by a view of 
the terrors of hell from which Christ came to 
deliver man, and the fourth a view of the supernal 
glories to which He will elevate His faithful ones. 
That is the idea and outline of the work. You 
see the soldier-born saint in it all through, a man 
who scorns to put pen to paper merely to amuse or 
even to instruct, who aims at nought less by his 
words than to put a mark on his readers which shall 
last through this life, and the after life as well. 
Certainly it was a wonderful idea. We have heard 
of calculating machines and other inventions equally 
curious but here is a machine which may fairly 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

claim to be quite unique, one for converting men 
wholesale ; a piece of mechanism forty days long 
into one end of which a man goes, and though 
he may be a roue, a worldling, a buffoon, yet is 
warranted to come out at the other a devoted 
" religious " and on the way to becoming a full 
blown saint. A singular conception, but perhaps 
what is more singular, is the success with which 
it has worked. Every Jesuit past and present 
has gone through that forty days process. If 
you ask why it is they are so much alike in aim 
and method, the answer is in Loyola and his forty 
days automatic converting machine, by which their 
raw and unformed human nature has been moulded 
into the shape he wanted. 

Another scene of his life now opens. He has 
striven in such wise as few would attempt to educate 
his soul. But that he finds does not complete his 
preparation for the work he would do in the world. 
He must now educate his mind. The son of a noble, 
he had been trained as such were in those days. 
That training, whatever it was, did not include 
solid learning. Knowledge was then, in Spain at 
least, the monopoly of the clergy. It was their 
business to be knowing and the business of nobody 
else. So that Ignatius Loyola, turned from warrior 
into saint, finds that he is a very ignorant saint, 
a state of things which will not fit in at all with 
his present designs. Now with him to see the 
need of a thing was to will it and to will it was to 
perform it. So the next thing we see is the saint 
at school. He goes about the business in a charac- 


J. Brierley 

teristic way. He knows nothing. He will 
begin then with those who know nothing. In a 
boys school at Barcelona behold him, then, on 
a form with a lot of young lads who gaze wonder- 
ingly at their strange associate meekly working 
at his Latin grammar, getting initiated into the 
mysteries of qui, qua, quod, of verbs and nouns, 
conjugations and declensions. Beginning thus 
humbly, he works his way with indomitable per 
severance till school is exchanged for the University, 
and we find him treading successively the aca 
demic halls of Alcala, of Salamanca and finally 
of Paris. Now the fact that Loyola at so advanced 
an age (for he was over thirty when he began Latin 
at the boys school), a time when most men s habits 
of mind are irrevocably fixed, an age when men 
who aspire to learning are supposed not only to 
have laid the deep foundations but to have reared 
much of the superstructure, could set himself thus 
determinedly and hopefully to make up for lost 
ground, and not only to start, but patiently and 
continually to plod forward till success was 
gained, shows in itself to the discerning eye a man 
of no common stuff. What was it sustained him 
in the drudgery ? The conviction, born of that 
clear common sense of his which in his wildest 
extravagances never deserted him the conviction 
that in order to gain anything like lasting influence 
over men s minds there needs, as an indispensable 
qualification, an intellect which shall be strong and 
cultivated. His visions, his raptures, his enthu 
siasm, his intense devotion he feels will do little 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

to accomplish his purpose unless backed up by 
a tough and well-fed brain. 

The religious mind will easily understand one 
form of trial Loyola had to contend with while 
pursuing these dry studies ; the trial arising from 
the very devoutness of his mind. Going over his 
Latin grammar was at first hard work for his head, 
but it was far harder for his heart. This attending 
to subjects which were merely secular seemed, 
in comparison with that spiritual communion, that 
lifting up of the soul to the highest regions of 
devotion, to which he had now been so long 
accustomed, like being turned out of paradise 
into the wilderness. It seemed to be taking him 
away from God. But he did not fling it aside. 
Instead he found out there was such a thing as, 
to put it in his own words, going away from God 
for God, i.e., for God s sake, and losing the present 
comfort of communion with Him for the sake of 
His greater glory. The principle he here lays down 
is one which all devout men need well to ponder. 
A child may be so fond of his mother as to hate 
being out of her sight. But the mother knows 
that a fondness of that kind will be no good to him 
or her. He must by and by show his love and 
she must show hers by separation. He will find 
he can only do his highest duty to her by performing 
tasks which at times will not only bring bodily 
separation, but even shut out the thought of her 
from his mind. Precisely so is it with our relations 
with our Father in Heaven. If we want to serve 
God eminently there will have to be processes 


J. Brierley 

not simply of devotion and communion, when 
the soul mounts on eagle wing into the sapphire 
heaven, but of study and thought when we drag 
ourselves over subjects which at first sight (but 
at first sight only) seem to have nought of God or 
heaven in them. 

We left Loyola at his studies. It was in 1528, 
and when in his thirty-ninth year, that, leaving 
the University of Salamanca, he entered that of 
Paris, which at that time was the European centre 
of intellectual light. Most momentous in his life 
story was that sojourn at the French capital. It 
was to him what Oxford was to Wesley. For as 
it was in our English seat of learning that the founder 
of Methodism gathered his first associates and 
made of them the nucleus of his Society, so was it at 
Paris and amongst his fellow students that Loyola 
picked the men whom we now recognise as the germ 
of his new institution, the beginners proper of Jesuit 
ism. The idea of forming a new religious order had 
long been cherished in the time of his solitude, 
but it had now gathered shape and was ripe, in 
fact, for being put into action. Some mighty 
names here emerge into view as his associates. 
Who that knows ought of Church history has not 
heard of Faber, of Salmeron, of Laynez, of Xavier ? 
These were all Paris students and Loyola s first 
spiritual conquests. It is deeply interesting the 
way in which he got hold of and moulded these 
men. Like Napoleon Bonaparte, a conqueror in 
another region, he had that attribute of greatness, 
the power of discerning greatness in others, and 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

of drawing the possessors of it to himself. What 
Ney and Murat and Massena were to Napoleon, 
men whose powers his own eye saw and whose 
genius, by the attractive force of his own greater 
genius, he won over to himself, so Laynez and 
Xavier and Faber were to Loyola. He saw in them 
the faculty divine and that faculty must be his, 
first to mould and then to use. Indeed, they were 
worth securing, these young men. Methinks had 
Loyola been able to peer into the future and see 
the career of these three, what stupendous engines 
they were to develop into for moving the world, 
how honestly they were to yield up all their magni 
ficent endowments of mind and heart to the service 
of him, their leader, what successes they were to 
achieve, and what imperishable honours were to 
gather about their names, could he have seen all 
these he would have laboured, if it were possible, 
with an even greater ardour for their conquest, 
and when that was achieved have exulted over 
it with a yet deeper joy. Who were these young 
students he had now won to his side ? One of them 
I have said was James Laynez. That you may 
know something of the powers that lay in him 
I sketch a scene which lies some twenty years further 
on in our story. We are in the cathedral of Trent. 
The historic pile is crowded with one of the most 
remarkable assemblies Europe has seen for ages. 
Princes, ambassadors, papal legates, cardinals, 
theologians, the representatives of nearly all the 
varieties of human power and greatness, are there. 
The scene we look on is none other than the far- 


J. Brierley 

famed Council of Trent, that assembly which Rome 
has just summoned to devise measures for beating 
back the rising tide of Protestantism, and to give 
to Catholic Christendom a revised creed and code 
of laws. But see, a great excitement has come 
all at once over the crowd. Princes and cardinals 
are rising from their stalls and turning without 
regard to dignity down the aisles towards a distant 
corner of the building ; the whole audience follows 
suit. Precedence and etiquette give way to a 
scramble for places. What does it all mean ? 
Only that in that far off corner a man has risen 
and is about to speak. He is spare, his voice is 
thin, and his garments contrast strangely in their 
meanness with the gorgeous habiliments of his 
audience. But he speaks and every one crowds 
up a little closer. The stream of eloquence has 
begun to flow and for two hours it keeps on flowing. 
All are silent, rapt in attention and admiration as 
on the profoundest subjects argument follows argu 
ment, clothed in transparent language and delivered 
with the easy grace of one who is perfect master 
of his ground. If you would know the man who 
could win such a triumph in such a place it is Laynez. 
He has gone there as representative of his master 
Loyola and also, higher honour still some would 
think (though perhaps not he), of the Pope himself, 
and has in his previous utterances in the Council, 
though a comparatively young man, shown such 
boundless learning, such powers of argumentation, 
such subtlety and far-seeingness as have secured 
him the deep homage of the assembly, and the 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

power to sway it in almost any direction he chooses. 
When you speak of the theologians of the fifteenth 
century, and name Calvin and Zwingli and 
Beza, do not forget that on the other side stands 
one who in scholarship and varied powers is every 
way their match, and that is Laynez. He it was 
who gave the Jesuits their distinctive theology. 
As a body they have always been known as the 
champions of free will as opposed to the pre 
destination tenets of the Dominicans and the 
Jansenists. That they are and have always 
been so is owing almost entirely to the influence 
of Laynez. You will agree now, I think, that to get 
hold of a youth with such promise in him was no 
bad day s work for our Paris student. 

But there is another whom Loyola has won 
over to join that small circle, whose name blazes 
with a glory more illustrious even than that of 
Laynez. I mean Francis Xavier. I must needs 
tell you something of him also. Born of a noble 
Spanish family, which was much reduced in cir 
cumstances, young Xavier had come to Paris for an 
education with a view of afterwards making his 
own fortune in the world. Handsome, fascinating 
in manners, and with brilliant talents, he soon 
gained name and popularity. Having won his 
degree he soon after becomes a teacher where he 
before had been learner, and we find him occupying 
with much success the Chair of Philosophy at the 
University. Loyola, while yet a student himself, fixed 
his eye on him, saw his great qualities and marked 
him for his own. With ceaseless pertinacity 


J. Brierley 

he clings to him, helping him in straits, enduring 
his raillery, for Xavier met at first his religious 
exhortations with unmeasured ridicule, haunting 
him ever with this question on his lips, "What 
shall it profit you, Xavier, if you gain the whole 
world and lose your own soul ? " At length the 
brilliant philosophy professor, strong in himself, 
bows to the fascination of one stronger than he, 
and after going through the preparatory discipline 
of the forty days spiritual exercises enters himself 
as one of the Society. So Loyola, after almost 
infinite pains, has secured this man, one convert. 
One! How small a result that would look on a 
table of religious statistics ! Only one, but the 
gaining of that single man was one of the most 
important events of the whole fifteenth century. 
After the Society was fully established and recognised 
the lot fell on Xavier to represent Jesuitism in the 
mission field, and no story of romance that ever I 
read comes anywhere near, for high adventure, 
for daring, for endurance, the record of that man s 
missionary life. Breaking from all the ties which 
to most men make life sweet, he sailed away alone, 
without money, without any visible provision for 
his wants, to the very ends of the earth where, 
for ten wondrous years, we see him now traversing 
afoot the burning and at this time unexplored plains 
of India, again alone in the heart of Japan, first 
of Europeans who had penetrated there, again 
crossing stormy Eastern seas in a frail bark with 
pirates for his companions, now disputing with 
subtle philosophers, here in a Japanese court, 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

at the risk of his life denouncing its idolatry and 
immorality, again in a Portuguese settlement excit 
ing frantic opposition by his stern rebukes of their 
godlessness, and then when, by his matchless patience 
and devotion, he has won them to an admiration 
as great as was their former hatred, fleeing from 
their plaudits to break up new ground amongst 
fresh peoples, and so encounter again the scorn 
and hardships without which it seemed he could 
not live. We are Protestants by birth and convic 
tion and Xavier was a Roman Catholic : he would 
have called us heretics and we if we had got hot 
with theological controversy would perhaps be 
inclined to fling names almost as hard at him, but 
looking away from his opinions to his life and 
spirit, I find no man who comes nearer to eclipsing 
the Apostle Paul himself, and no man certainly 
who makes the modern efforts at missionising 
look more puny. In those ten years he had admitted 
into the pale of Christendom 200,000 converts 
and had traversed oceans, islands, continents, 
through a track equal to more than twice the circum 
ference of our globe. The people over there, both 
settlers and natives, begin to think him a magician, 
and well they might. It has been well said, there 
is at least one well-authenticated miracle in Xavier s 
story. It is that any mortal man should have 
sustained such toils as he did and have sustained 
them too, not merely with composure, but as if in 
obedience to some indestructible exigency of his 
nature. Such then was the second of the circle 
Loyola had at Paris gathered round him. I cannot 


J. Brierley 

stay to describe the others, further than that the 
names of Peter Faber, of Salmeron, of Rodriguez 
and Bobadilla, the four who with Xavier and Laynez 
formed the Society at its commencement, were 
of the first rank in ability and manifested their 
leader s prescience by their after achievements. 

Ignatius had now fairly made a beginning. He 
had conquered himself. He had won to his views 
a band of men small in numbers but every one fit 
for a world conqueror s lieutenant. The next busi 
ness was to get his idea into more definite shape 
and to have the Society formally established.. 

They determined to begin by taking together 
a solemn vow which should at once define their 
work and tie them to it with the most sacred bonds. 
So on the i5th August, 1534, a date ever afterwards 
held memorable with the Jesuits, just as the dawn 
was springing in the East, there might be seen emerg 
ing from one of the gates of Paris a little band of 
men who march in silent procession towards the 
hill of Montmartre which lies a little distance 
in front. We recognise the leader by his halting 
gait, and by that imperial countenance which 
tradition has universally given to Loyola. At the 
summit of that hill there are some steps leading 
down into the crypt of St. Denis, so named because 
Denis, the apostle and patron saint of France, is 
said there to have suffered martyrdom. In 
this crypt our little company has assembled and, 
having received the communion from Faber, who 
is now in priest s orders, they proceed to take the 
great oath which is to bind their lives. Each in 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

his turn, with a solemnity which indexed the depth 
of their resolve, repeats the words of that awful 
vow. It was a scene at which the nations might 
have trembled. Never, it has been truly said, 
have human lips pronounced a vow more religiously 
observed or pregnant with results more momentous. 
What they vowed was this : (i) That they would 
live unmarried. (2) That they would continue 
in perpetual poverty. (3) That they would be 
obedient to their ecclesiastical superiors, and (4) 
this being the vow special and distinguishing, that 
on finishing their studies they would proceed to 
Venice with a view of sailing to Palestine to convert 
the infidels, or supposing it proved impossible to 
go to Palestine, they would go to Rome and offer 
themselves in absolute obedience to the Pope, for 
him to send them wherever he chose or on what 
soever errand. These vows were, as I have said, 
taken in 1534. It was late in 1536 that, having 
completed their studies, they proceeded to carry 
out the last and special part of the compact. They 
set out for Venice on foot, and on ariving there, 
finding the Palestine scheme for the present im 
practicable, their leader pushed on to Rome to lay 
his plan before the Pope. To carry his point 
at Rome was one of the hardest struggles of his 
life. When he arrived there first, Paul III. was 
out of the way on a journey. Of the cardinals 
whose interest Loyola sought most pooh-poohed 
the whole thing. Caraffa, the Pope s principal 
adviser, though an earnest man, was deeply preju 
diced against anything new, and had a scent of 


J. Brierley 

preternatural keenness for heresy. So for a time the 
saint made no way at head-quarters. The utmost 
he could do was to gain permission for himself 
and associates to preach and work amongst the 
poor in Rome. But at last, after three years of 
negotiations, entreaties, rebuffs, hopings against 
hope, he prevailed. The Pope, whose spiritual 
dominions were being broken in upon in every 
direction by the Reformers, saw at last that in so 
dire an extremity he could not afford to throw 
away such an offer as these men were making him. 
They wanted him only to speak the word, to give 
his sanction to their idea, and they would be his 
utterly and for ever to fight the battles of Peter 
against heathen and Protestant, against earth and 
hell. The word was given and in 1540, six years 
after the scene at Montmartre, the little company 
was formally recognised by a Papal Bull and the 
Society of Jesus, as they called themselves, was 
for good or ill fairly started in the world. Now 
Protestants, all ye who have lifted your hands 
against the might of Rome, beware! Be sure the 
foundations on which you rest are solid rock, 
for an assault is about to be made, against which 
anything less enduring than the everlasting 
granite will crumble down. Look well to your 
weapons, make sure they are of the true temper, 
and that they rust not in their scabbards, for 
here are foemen everyway worthy of your steeL 
To be sure, your new foes are a mere handful, there 
are only ten of them, but Leonidas with his invin 
cible three hundred at Thermopylae, Cortes conquering 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

an empire with an army numbering only a third of 
an English regiment, have proved what a few 
mighty souls can do against multitudes who are not 
mighty, and these ten who go out against you 
have weapons at their command more potent 
far than those which the heroes of Grecian story 
or they who conquered in the Mexican plains 
dreamt of; for they have power, these ten, not 
only to dare and endure, but to think, to speak, 
to touch all the springs of influence, to sway the 
men high placed in the world, in whose hands are 
the souls and bodies of millions. Beware again, 
say I. A stone has been cut out of the mountains 
and in this 1540 year it is set agoing ; look how it 
bounds and plunges, how it gathers size in its 
flight, and deadlier velocity at every moment. 
I tremble as I look at the Protestant citadel down 
there in the valley against which the mountain- 
born mass comes thundering ever nearer, I tremble 
till I think of what the citadel is made and on what 
foundation it rests ! 

The Jesuit Society is started, and now they must 
have a leader, a constitution and a code of laws. 
One of their number, chosen of themselves, must 
.step from the ranks and rule. Who shall it be ? 
If you have followed me in my story of the previous 
progress of the movement you, I suppose, will 
say without hesitation, " Ignatius, of course." 
Already master de facto, it is the only natural order 
to make him master de jure. So we should think, 
and so thought all the Society except Loyola him 
self. Unanimously elected, he represented himself 


J. Brierley 

as astonished and grieved at the decision, and at 
first absolutely refused the post. But a fresh vote 
of the Society bringing the same result, he at length 
with every sign of reluctance submitted, and 
mounted the seat of power with the title of General. 
It is natural that Loyola s Catholic biographers 
should devoutly believe that when he said he didn t 
want to rule he really meant it. But it is just 
as natural that his Protestant critics should believe 
no such thing. Certainly it is something to swallow 
when we are told that a man born for sway as he 
was, after having with immense patience and out 
of a long cherished scheme created this Society, 
should really prefer that now its whole future be 
taken out of his hands. We do not see quite why 
he should have been at such trouble to make the 
machine if it were not to do his work. It looks 
very much as if the General of the Jesuits was 
allowing himself to be a little Jesuitical here, that he 
was indulging in a little by-play, by way of testing 
to the full the character of his associates and their 
feeling towards himself. If you won t accept 
that explanation here is another ready-made for 
you by a good Catholic, that the motives of saints 
are often far too deep for ordinary and profane 
mortals to understand. However, nolens volens, 
whether he likes it or not, General he is, and he 
speedily shows that the office is not going in his 
hands to be a sinecure. 

His business now is to settle clearly and once 
for all the principles of the Society, and the way it 
is to carry them out. This he does in two ways. 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

One is by writing the so-called Constitutions, 
i.e., the Jesuit code of laws, the other way, the 
example he himself sets. Studying the Order from 
these two positions, we get some idea of what 
Ignatius meant it to be and do. The key note 
of the whole lies in the word obedience. It is that 
fourth vow in which the professed Jesuit offers 
himself absolutely to the service of the Pope, to 
be sent anywhere and on any errand at his bidding, 
that the system is marked from all the other religious 
Orders. It was no new thing in the Catholic Church 
for men to vow celibacy and poverty and the 
ordinary ecclesiastical obedience. But the followers 
of Benedict and Dominic, the regular monks, 
that is, had the privilege within certain limits 
of " calling their souls their own." But this the 
Jesuit by his vow utterly disclaimed. Absolute, 
unhesitating, unquestioning obedience to the will 
of his General was with Loyola the cardinal virtue. 
No man could enter the Society who was not pre 
pared for that supreme act of self-renunciation. 
As the ball which rolls in the direction you push 
it, as the violin passive in the hands of the musician, 
so is the Jesuit to the will of his superior. The 
whole company was to be one machine, moved by 
the General at his absolute pleasure, while he 
in his turn was to be moved in the same way by 
the Pope. It is as if the General were the Jesuit s 
Christ and the Pope his God. Here is an illustration 
of his way of dealing. There are some schools 
and colleges to be opened in Sicily, and Ignatius 
is applied to to send some Jesuit fathers as teachers. 



J. Brierley 

He calls his Society (which by the way had now 
many additions to its ranks) and catechises them 
thus : " Are you whom I shall send to Sicily quite 
as ready not to go as to go ? If you go, are you 
as willing to teach one thing as another, to teach 
what you best know, or what you know imperfectly, 
or not to teach at all ? Are you as ready if need 
be to do domestic service in the kitchen, as to 
impart learning in the college ? " And not till 
their replies, which came without any hesitation, 
had satisfied him that these men, many of whom 
were fit to teach in any European university, 
were just as willing to sweep the kitchen as to lecture 
on mathemathics, that they had in fact no will 
but to obey, no desire but to serve, not till then 
was it that he sent them out to their work. 

It is a phenomenon worth, I think, a moment s 
study, how this man, by a word or a look, could 
rule men like this. How was it that men obeyed 
Ignatius so utterly ? I say mainly because they could 
not help themselves. There is a law governing 
the sons of men stronger than all political systems, 
a law which is seen under republics as well as 
despotisms, a law which laughs to scorn our babble 
about human equality, this, viz., that the man 
who is strongest in will and mind shall have sway 
over the less strong. He will get it if not in one 
way then in another. Says one stubborn of nature, 
listening to this doctrine, " Pooh, no use any one 
trying that on me ; I would yield to nobody s 
dictation." Very well, my friend, but let the 
strong man come, and we hold you will be ruled 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

by him nevertheless. You are impregnable on 
one side of your nature. He only approaches you 
on another side. You will not be dictated to, 
but you will be argued with that, then, is where 
he will have you ; quite independent of your will 
about the matter there will grow up in you a 
reverence for a reasoning power which is greater 
than your own. So let such a man appear on the 
scene of life, a man who is at once inflexible in 
purpose, who has great intellect to conceive and 
great enthusiasm to carry out the conception, 
and ordinary men may as soon talk of resisting 
his will as a stone flung into the air might talk 
of resisting the attraction of the earth. 

I go further, men will not only acquiesce but 
as a rule rejoice in their servitude to such an one. 
People talk sometimes about the misery of having 
to bear a yoke which has been put upon them 
from without. But suppose you take off all yokes 
from their shoulders, absolve them for a while 
from all the ties which bind them to their leaders ; 
what will happen ? This. They will find that, of 
all burdens, the burden of being free, that is of 
being spiritually and intellectually on their own hook, 
of being left to pick out their own way through 
these difficult regions, is the heaviest, and they will 
hasten, as did the Israelites of old, to look out some 
Saul, some one a little taller than themselves, and 
put him in front. Ever since the beginning of the 
world the game of " follow my leader " has been 
in vogue, and I expect men will go on playing it 
till we have a new edition of human nature. It 


J. Brierley 

was then, I take it, mainly because Ignatius 
Loyola belonged to this rank of men, the kings 
who rule by a true jus divinum, that men obeyed 
him so. 

If anything needs be added to this explanation 
of his power, it is that he was not a commander 
simply but a leader, between which words there 
is a difference. What he said to his followers 
was not go but come. Into no region of devotion 
or of awful sacrifice did he invite his Society, but 
he had been there himself, and they knew it. Did 
he order a man to start without a shilling in his 
pocket on a journey to the ends of the earth ? The 
man went because he was sure that he, who gave 
the word of command, was ready if need were to 
take himself that very journey and in that very 
shillingless condition. 

We begin now to see what this Jesuit Society 
was. A company of able and determined men 
who, just at the time when Protestantism was making 
its fiercest onslaughts on the Papacy, had banded 
themselves together for the defence of that Papacy, 
who to this end had given themselves in utter 
obedience to their General and the Pope, themselves 
with all their talents, time, energy, for whatever 
service might be allotted them. I must now add 
something about the ways in which they sought 
to gain the ends they had before them. 

I might put this in brief by saying there was no 
method by which the human heart and intellect 
could be influenced which they did not use. They 
caught men as individuals by personal solicitation, 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

they reached them in the mass by preaching, they 
seized the opportunities which suffering gave them 
by diligent attendance at hospitals and infirmaries, 
and above all they laid skilful hand on that 
great engine whose power we are just beginning to 
understand, education. 

Let me particularise two of these. Preaching, 
I have said, was one of their working tools. Is the 
pulpit a worn-out piece of Church furniture ? So 
think some in the present day. So did not think 
Ignatius. He preached and his associates preached, 
and that on all sorts of occasions and in all sorts of 
places. And in their preaching they had one 
signal advantage over many who in the present 
day aspire, as the Scotch say, to wag their pow 
in a pulpit. They were dead in earnest. They 
went at their work as if they meant it. It was 
a rule with them that they should think only of 
the effect to be produced, the end to be gained, 
caring nothing for either applause or criticism. 
You will agree with me perhaps that here at least 
is one Jesuit rule which might with advantage 
be painted up at the back of many a Protestant 

But the sway of the Jesuits would never have 
attained that far-reaching character which soon 
belonged to it, if they had confined their efforts 
to pulpit declamation, however earnest and im 
passioned. Loyola went to the root of the matter 
when he declared that his Society should be above 
all things else a great teaching power. Europe 
was just now waking to a sense of the value of 


J. Brierley 

knowledge. One of the most damning accusa 
tions which Protestants were making against Rome 
was that for her own purposes she had kept men in j 
ignorance. " You have kept us in darkness because 
you were afraid of the light," said they, and to the 
cry Rome found it hard at first to find an answer. 
But in Ignatius the Papacy had a champion who 
saw everything and who seemed able to provide 
for everything. In his bold soldier s fashion hej 
takes up the gage thrown down by the Protestants. 
" Knowledge is against us and on the side of you 
Protestants, is it ? " said he. " Then we will 
make you see, and make Europe see, that Rome is 
not only friendly to knowledge, but the dispenser 
of it, that if the nations want to be taught, she keeps 
the best school." The word went forth and speedily 
the nations saw rising in their midst schools under 
Jesuit superintendence, colleges with Jesuit teachers, 
and the national universities with Jesuits in their 
professorial chairs. Specially was it so in Italy, 
Germany, Spain and Portugal. Of course, this 
could not have been done had the members of this 
Society been other than extraordinary men. 

George III. sat on the English throne because 
his father sat there before him, and had he been 
a bigger fool than he really was that would have 
been no flaw in his title. But by no such rule 
could a man sit as a professor of mathematics in a 
college. For that, he must be a mathematician. 
It was not enough for Loyola to will to possess 
the keys of knowledge in the nations. He must 
have men about him able dexterously to finger 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

them. But here is the beauty of it. The men 
he needed he had in numbers about him. In the 
ranks of those who called him General he had masters 
in art, science, theology, classical learning. There 
were painters, poets, astronomers; heraldry owes to 
them its language of signs; they had writers on the 
art of military defence ; and the student who wishes 
to master political science will turn to Jesuit works 
amongst others as authorities. Fortunate Loyola ! 
Wellington would have fared badly at Waterloo, 
I fancy, with all his generalship, if the material 
he had to work on had been anything worse than the 
solid British stuff it was, and you, Loyola, would have 
cut a far less figure in history had not your plans 
been in the hands of men worthy of them. 

But give him his due even here. We call a man 
a good workman not only because he knows well how 
to use his tools, but because he knows a good tool 
when he sees it. Loyola went beyond that, though. 
He could see the material out of which a good 
instrument could be made when that material 
was all in the rough, and then went and made it. 
It is curious to watch him going about the world in 
this process of picking out fit instruments. He would 
take the points of a man in a flash of the eye 
and know at that moment whether he was of the 
kind he wanted. Numbers of candidates offer them 
selves, learned many of them, pure, wealthy, but 
some one thing they lack, and then, spite of tears 
and entreaties, back they must go. Serve God 
and the Church in such ways as you can," was 
his verdict, "but you are not called to be Jesuits." 


J. Brierley 

On the other hand, when he saw his man, whoever 
he might be, however hopeless the conquest seemed, 
he would rarely or never leave him till secured. 
Extraordinary stories of these captures are told. 
There is a professor at Paris, with great qualities, 
but worldly. His great passion is billiards. Loyola 
visits him one day and finds him, cue in hand, 
at his favourite game. He is jovially invited to 
play. He will on these conditions, that the winner 
shall fix the pursuits of the loser for the forty follow 
ing days. Good. And the game is began. The 
saint beats the professor and puts him through 
the forty days spiritual exercises we spoke of and 
the worldling is gained to Jesuitism. 

Funny story that, but a score of similar ones 
might be added. The care he himself showed in 
selecting men he sought, by means of rules, to be 
continued always in the Society. None were to 
be admitted without some remarkable endow 
ments of intellect and piety, plus good health, 
an agreeable person and attractive manners. 
If of high birth, as the majority of the early 
members were, so much the better. Like Bona 
parte s imperial guard, like the Theban band of 
Epaminondas, every soldier was to be a veteran. 

And now I have to make a statement about Loyola 
which may be of special interest to the lady portion 
of my audience, but which at the same time I 
scarcely know how they will receive, whether as 
a compliment or the reverse. He has already 
shown himself an almost resistless mover of men. 
His life history shows one occasion when he was 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

called to try his power on women. And I have 
to say that this was about the one experiment 
in his life in which he failed. You have heard of 
Jesuits, but you never, I suppose, heard of Jesuit- 
esses. There are none. But it looked at one 
time very much as if there were to be some. Thus 
did it happen. Donna Isabella Rosella, a devout 
lady of Barcelona, who had known Loyola when 
a scholar there, having heard of the noise he was 
making in Rome, took it one day into her pious head 
to go and pay her respects to him. Some other 
ladies, catching the same enthusiasm, determine 
to accompany her, so that by and by we behold 
a convoy of fair devotees bearing down full sail 
on the hapless General. Holding the advanced 
doctrine that what is good for the souls of men is 
good for the souls of women also, they mean to be 
put through the Jesuit initiatory discipline, and 
then live a religious life under Loyola s direction. 
Now whether the General was or was not a believer 
in the ungallant dictum that, of all the mischief 
going in the world, lovely woman is at the bottom, 
I cannot say, but I know this : the saint hummed 
and ha d at the proposal, shook his head and 
finally came out with a point-blank refusal. 
Now when Ignatius Loyola said No, ordinary 
people, yea and extraordinary ones too, usually 
considered it quite a waste of time to get it changed 
into Yes. But he was fighting now with women, 
and are not they born into the world for the special 
purpose of leading men captive, and is this man 
going to make an exception of himself to that 


J. Brierley 

estimable law ? " Not if we know it," said Donna 
Isabella and her fair companions. Now just see 
the artfulness of them. They knew the General, 
invincible everywhere else, had, like Achilles, 
one attackable point and that was in his vow of 
obedience to the Pope. Get the Holy Father on their 
side and all will be well. To him they go. His 
Holiness melts into speedy acquiescence and orders 
the Jesuit General to take the suppliants under 
his charge. Ignatius groaned but obeyed. Poor 
man ! His worst forebodings were soon realised. 
Not many days passed before troubles began. 
There were complaints from some both deep and 
loud about their lodgings, and a host of other things; 
then others of the sisters had extraordinarily sensitive 
consciences which needed an immense amount 
of direction and sympathy ; others were blessed 
with a theologically inquisitive turn of mind, 
which produced every day showers of fresh questions 
which " would the General be good enough to answer 
for them ? " Even the saint s patience gives way 
at last. " It costs me more labour," says he, 
" to direct a handful of women than to keep the 
whole Company in order from the Netherlands to 
India." His mind is made up. To the Pope 
he goes one day and tells him his doleful tale. The 
work did not lie in the scope of his calling, nothing 
but mischief would come of the connection. The 
Pope yields to this masculine counterblast as he 
had before yielded to the ladies, and Loyola comes 
back triumphant with a special papal brief by 
which the Jesuit Society is for ever exempted from 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

the management of women. Whether this failure 
of the first and last negotiation for a union between 
the Jesuits and the feminine portion of the Catholic 
world was a good thing or a bad thing for the world, 
or for the Jesuits, or for the ladies themselves, is a 
question I am not going to answer, but prefer 
rather to leave as one of the problems arising out 
of this lecture for you to discuss at your leisure. 

The narrative part of this sketch must now 
come to a close. It was impossible in one lecture 
to do more than to trace the rise of this Society, 
for when once started its history branches off 
into a dozen different channels, to track each of which 
would require a volume. Ignatius lived sixteen 
years after his Order was recognised by the Pope, 
but to get a fair idea of what he and his associates 
had been doing in that time you will have to acquaint 
yourselves with the histories of Italy, Germany, 
France Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Great 
Britain, and the far settlements of the New World, 
for in all these lands were they busy, and into the 
history of them all had they by this time inextric 
ably woven themselves. Before those years had 
come to an end we find them pouring their counsels 
into the ears of the greatest princes, and pulling 
the wires of half the Cabinets in Europe. Loyola 
had seen his missionaries traverse every country 
of the then known world, and Europe, Asia, Africa 
and America were to him simply an aggregation 
of Jesuit provinces. At the centre of this vast 
organisation he himself sat, the heart and moving 
principle of it all, leading in his house at Rome 


J. Brierley 

an outwardly simple and unostentations life, 
relieving beggars, nursing sick people, taking his 
turn at preaching and mass-saying, giving no 
outward sign that he was a potentate wielding a 
power more absolute and extensive than perhaps 
had ever been known in this earth before. 

But the world has one conqueror to whom sooner 
or later even an Ignatius must bow. Sixteen years 
has he been General and then in 1556 the end 
comes. Slow fever aggravated by a cold caught in 
a damp house brought him down. He knew death 
was close on him, and so summoning what of his 
followers were within reach he gave them his last 
counsels. It is July 3oth. All through the long 
summer night he lies in his narrow bed waiting 
for the great change. In the morning it comes. 
There is a fluttering of the pulse, a flickering smile 
crossing the upturned face, a whispered utterance 
of the name of Him whom Protestant and Catholic 
know as the Saviour, and then the light which for 
sixty-five years had burned in those lustrous eyes 
fades out of them, and his weeping followers know 
that their strong leader, he who with iron grip had 
put his hand on the hearts of men and on the 
destinies of nations, is no more. 

And now, out of all this, some vast questions 
arise, worthy of far more elaborate and carefully 
considered answers than we are able to give. What 
ought our verdict as Protestant Christians to be 
on such a man as this ? What is the nature of 
the influence he exerted on the nations and on 
the Church ? Is the Society he founded to be 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

considered an unmitigated blessing, or an unmiti 
gated curse, or neither of these ? With some these 
questions would meet with a speedy, and sweeping, 
answer, an answer which would bury the whole Society, 
its founder, its agencies, its work, under a lava- 
stream of fiery denunciation. But that is just 
what a man who has informed himself of all the 
facts, and who wishes to be taught by the facts 
and not by his prejudices, finds himself unable to 
do. In the Society whose origin and leader we have 
sketched he sees a tangled web of good and evil. 
If he wants to escape all trouble in his task of 
summing up and verdict-giving he will, if he be 
a Romanist, cover the whole with one easily uttered 
word, and say " Good all of it ; " if Protestant, 
by another word equally short and easy of utter 
ance, "Bad all of it." How much simpler this 
method than that of drawing from that web patiently 
the tangled skeins, the threads white and black, 
the putting them together in their separate places, 
the weighing and measuring them, and then strik 
ing the final balance ! No wonder bigotry is so often 
popular. To be a bigot is uncommonly easy, 
while to be impartial and give every man his due 
means hard work. For myself I trust that in the 
final estimate of Loyola and his work with which 
I bring this lecture to a close, I shall attain what 
certainly I have sought, discrimination and fairness. 
Speaking for myself first, you will have been 
able to gather from what I have already said a good 
many of the elements out of which you may suppose 
I should construct my estimate. There is no need, 


J. Brierley 

surely, for enlarging here on the grounds of his 
title to greatness. If my picture of the man has 
not already impressed you with the notion of one 
who, in the qualities which fit for rule, towered 
head and shoulders above his fellows, I must have 
been a very indifferent painter. However we 
may disagree with the Jesuits, we shall be disposed, 
without arguing the question, to fall in with that 
estimate of their master which they have put as 
an epitaph on his tomb : " Whoever thou mayest 
be who hast portrayed to thine own imagination 
Pompey or Caesar or Alexander, open thine eyes 
to the truth, and let this marble teach thee how 
much greater a conqueror than they was Ignatius." 
In spite of all they have done, the Jesuits are 
a hated Society. They were hated yesterday and 
they are hated to-day. There must be some reasons, 
and good reasons, for a feeling so deep and wide 
spread. What are they ? The answer does not 
lie far off. Any clear-sighted man looking at the 
very structure of the Society would see with half 
an eye that it was bound sooner or later to do 
mischief. Consider it for a moment. The Society 
is a machine to be moved in all its parts only by the 
will of its master, the General. All the subordinate 
members of it are just so many wheels, cogs, pulleys. 
They have no will of their own. The General is 
their conscience, his will their motive power. 
Now supposing the object of the Society had been 
one we could agree with, we are obliged to feel 
that such a means for producing it must work 
badly, both for the members of the Society and for 


"J.B." as Lecturer 

the world. Can a man ever expect to be healthy 
spiritually, if he crushes out his own conscience 
and judgment ? These two are the very pillars of 
the human soul. How can it remain upright if 
they, the main supports, are pulled down to begin 
with ? Moreover, ought it not to have been present 
to Loyola s mind what risks he was running in putting 
such absolute power as this into the hands of 
only one man ? How was he to secure to the end 
of time that the Generals themselves should be 
pure and holy men ? Perhaps he could continue 
such himself, but he had no business to take himself 
as the rule for all after times. Nay, was not the 
very position of General likely to make a man bad 
if he were not so before ? All history has proved 
that nothing so quickly warps a man s moral nature 
as absolute power. Supposing that law to operate 
in the case of the Jesuit General and what is the 
consequence ? The whole Society, with its splendid 
intelligence, its unbounded power for influence, 
is then just the obedient instrument of one bad man. 
I defy anybody to say that is not a logical outcome 
of Jesuit principles ; and history is a great liar 
if it has not shown in more than one country and 
generation that this very thing has actually happened. 
I say, then, Loyola in stamping out the individual 
conscience and judgment from his Society was 
perilling their own souls and perilling society. 

I do not think, however, I have yet touched the 
main reason why the Jesuits are as a rule hated so 
cordially and especially by us English people. 
That, I believe, lies in the fact of their being a secret 


J. Brierley 

society. We as a people hate conspiracies. Let 
a man s design be as pure as that of an angel, we 
will have nothing to do with it or him unless he 
will consent to carry it out above board. And 
as it seems to me for a very good reason. Motives, 
like mutton, require to be kept out in the open air 
if they are to be kept sweet. I do not care what 
pretensions a Society may have, unless it gets venti 
lation by publicity and criticism from without, 
it is bound by and by to go mouldy. For that 
reason then I think Ignatius gave us a bad legacy 
in leaving a Society which was always to work 
in the dark. 

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