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also by the Spirit of Christ — the key of know- 
ledge nevertheless is not in every man's hand, 
but that multitudes still fumble at the lock 
with the wrong key. The Word himself, 
the Founder and the Keeper of the Church, 
when he taught as Jesus the Son of man, was 
not silent respecting the lasting obstructions 
to the progress of his gospel. " Strait is the 
gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto 
life, and few there be that find it " ; and that, 
although he can say again, *' I am the way, 
the truth, and the life " ; ** I am the door." 
So it happens that the bulk of every gene- 
ration, even till the last, will either bury the 
key themselves, or have it hidden from them 
by their professed and accepted instructors ; 
and that as a consequence, not to be evaded, 
every generation, even till the last, would 
again reject Jesus if God should again assume 
man's image. There had been anointed 
messengers of Christ before himself The 
Jewish church ought to have been the church 
of Christ waiting for Christ's appearing ; 
nevertheless, when the promise of these 


anointed messengers was fulfilled, that church 
welcomed not Jesus, but denied her Messiah. 
Who will aver that the like could not happen 
again, even when in room of a promise the 
church has now the reality, the presence of 
Christ assured by the sacraments ? 

I should be willing, perhaps always, to 
admit the moral truth of what Jesus might 
say, the leaven of the Word having wrought 
thus far in my reason as to compel the avowal, 
** Never man spake as this man " ; but there 
are times, I know, hours, and days, and whole 
weeks, when I should feel irritation, or ran- 
cour, or resentment, as often as Jesus brushed 
aside my self-complacency, and revealed to 
me the Pharisaic conventions and prejudices 
accumulated in my heart, its lawyer-like re- 
liance upon rites and ceremonies, its repose in 
the intellectual grasp of dogmas, its confidence 
in the knowledge that is ignorance, in as much 
as it is not knowledge of God, and conse- 
quently, is not knowledge of self 

I may well ask myself, if with all my 
advantages, with the life of the Son of man 





Sermons preached in Abbey to 
Westminster Boys 





I 901 

All rights reserved 







Election 1900 

Woe unto you, lawyers ! for ye have taken away the key of 
knowledge : ye entered not in yourselves, and them 
that were entering in ye hindered. — Luke xi 52. 




$th Sunday in Lent 1888 

The heart knoweth his own bitterness ; and a stranger doth 

not intermeddle with his joy. — Proverbs xiv 10 . .15 



Election 1890 

Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way ? thou 
also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of 
Assyria. — Jeremiah ii 36 . . . . . • 30 



Election 1892 

Speaking the truth in love. — Ephesians iv 15 . , , 40 

viii Contents 


Election 1893 
But I say u.ito you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them 
that despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may 
be the children of your Father, which is in heaven ; for 
he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, 
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. — 
Matthew v 44 51 


Election 1896 
The voice of him that crieth, In the w^ilderness prepare ye the 
way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway 
for our God. — Isaiah xl 3 63 



Election 1899 

It is lawful to do well. — Matthew xii 12 . . . .75 


St. Matthew's Day 1896 
Barnabas exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they 

would cleave unto the Lord. —Acts xi 23 . . .88 



St. John Baptist's Day 1898 

Thou shall be called the prophet of the Highest,— Luke i 76, 96 

Contents ix 



St. Andrew's Day 1898 

Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost. — 

John vi 12 .108 


St. John Baptist's Day 1899 

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city .... 

without walls. — Proverbs xxv 28. 
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are 

in peace. — Luke xi 21 117 



St. Peter's Day 1899 

The Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of 
the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the 
people of the Jews. — Acts xii 11 126 


Michaelmas 1899 
It must needs be that offences come : but woe to that man by 

whom the offence cometh. — Matthew xviii 7 . .134 



St. Luke's Day 1899 

Watch thou in all things.— 2 Timothy iv 5 . . . .142 

X Contents 




SS, Simon and Jude 1899 

These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have 

peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of 

good cheer; I have overcome the world. — ^John xvi 33 . 151 


All Saints 1899 
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A 
good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth 
forth good things : and an evil man out of the evil treasure 
bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every 
idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account 
thereof in the day of judgment.— Matthew xii 34 ff . 160 


St. Andrew's Day 1899 
Blessed are the peacemakers. — Matthew v 9. 
What king, going to war against another king, sitteth not 
down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten 
thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty 
thousand?— Luke xiv 31 171 


Conversion of St. Paul 1900 
Ye are the light of the world.— Matthew v 14. 
If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light : 
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of 
darkness. —Matthew vi 22 182 

Contents xi 



Purification of the Virgin Mary IQCXJ 

Strong in spirit.— Luke ii 40 191 


St. Matthias' Day 1900 

Why dost thou judge thy brother ? for we shall all 

stand before the judgment seat of Christ. — Rom. xiv 10 . 200 



Ascension Day 1 900 

A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. — Matthew v 14 . 209 



St. Peter's Day 1900 

Fervent in spirit. — Romans xii 11 218 


Michaelmas 1900 
My son is yet young and tender, and the work is great. For 
the palace is not for man but for the Lord God. — 
I Chron. xxix 1 226 



St. Luke's Day 1900 

I send you forth as lambs among wolves. — LUKE x 3 . . 236 

xii Contents 



All Saints 1 900 

When ye shall have done all those things that are commanded 
you, say, We are unprofitable servants : we have done that 
which was our duty to do. — Luke xvii 10 . . . 247 



-5"/. Andrew's Day 190D 

The Lord satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry 

soul with goodness. — Psalm cvii 9 . . , . 256- 



T%e Annunciation of the Virgin Mary 1901 

I am no more worthy to be called thy son : make me as one 

of thy hired servants. — Luke xv 19 .... 264. 




Woe unto you^ lawyers ! for ye have taken away the key of 
knowledge : ye entered not in yourselves^ and them that 
were entering in ye hindered. — Luke xi 52. 

There are minds which love to play with 
the question, What would take place if Jesus 
Christ were to appear again now, not as he 
shall appear in the day of the Lord in majesty 
and with power, but as he once appeared 
among men, bruised and wounded, stricken 
and afflicted in his fellows' cause ? As their 
fancy runs up and down, to and fro, upon the 
preposterous theme, such persons seem ever 
to be surprised by their own originality in 
discovering anew the old certainty that in 
the world, wherein the leaven of the Word 
has been at work for the better part of two 
millenia, and even in the visible church her- 
self, although possessed for all but the same 
space of sacramental truth, and possessed 


f r •' * " 


also by the Spirit of Christ — the key of know- 
ledge nevertheless is not in every man's hand, 
but that multitudes still fumble at the lock 
with the wrong key. The Word himself, 
the Founder and the Keeper of the Church, 
when he taught as Jesus the Son of man, was 
not silent respecting the lasting obstructions 
to the progress of his gospel. " Strait is the 
gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto 
life, and few there be that find it " ; and that, 
although he can say again, " I am the way, 
the truth, and the life " ; ''I am the door." 
So it happens that the bulk of every gene- 
ration, even till the last, will either bury the 
key themselves, or have it hidden from them 
by their professed and accepted instructors ; 
and that as a consequence, not to be evaded, 
every generation, even till the last, would 
again reject Jesus if God should again assume 
man's image. There had been anointed 
messengers of Christ before himself. The 
Jewish church ought to have been the church 
of Christ waiting for Christ's appearing ; 
nevertheless, when the promise of these 


anointed messengers was fulfilled, that church 
welcomed not Jesus, but denied her Messiah. 
Who will aver that the like could not happen 
again, even when in room of a promise the 
church has now the reality, the presence of 
Christ assured by the sacraments ? 

I should be willing, perhaps always, to 
admit the moral truth of what Jesus might 
say, the leaven of the Word having wrought 
thus far in my reason as to compel the avowal, 
** Never man spake as this man " ; but there 
are times, I know, hours, and days, and whole 
weeks, when I should feel irritation, or ran- 
cour, or resentment, as often as Jesus brushed 
aside my self-complacency, and revealed to 
me the Pharisaic conventions and prejudices 
accumulated in my heart, its lawyer-like re- 
liance upon rites and ceremonies, its repose in 
the intellectual grasp of dogmas, its confidence 
in the knowledge that is ignorance, in as much 
as it is not knowledge of God, and conse- 
quently, is not knowledge of self 

I may well ask myself, if with all my 
advantages, with the life of the Son of man 


to serve as exemplar, with the cleansing 
baptism of fire whereby I should partake in 
his sufferings and rise with him from death, 
with the other sacrament by which I can keep 
and knit the spiritual union thus begun — I 
may well ask if I am better than the lawyers. 
They were satisfied that they had knowledge, 
and their countrymen were not concerned to 
doubt them. Teachers and taught were both 
content with the law — a Pharisee become 
Christian afifirms it, — and prided themselves 
in God, and understood his will, and knew 
that they, and they alone, possessed the truth. 
If I, to whom a larger measure of truth is 
accessible, am never tempted by self-satisfac- 
tion of the same order as was theirs, if I 
never think that the truth is so securely mine 
that in its defence I must defy the authority 
of the church herself; if I never make sure 
that I understand God's will more intimately 
than other men ; if my cry is never any other 
than *' Christ be merciful to me a sinner"; 
then perhaps I may not be of those to whom 
Jesus says " Ye are of your father the devil, 


and the lusts of your father ye will do": "Ye 
compass sea and land to make one proselyte, 
and when he Is made, ye make him two-fold 
more the child of hell than yourselves": '*Ye 
neither know me nor my Father": **Ye have 
taken away the key of knowledge ; ye enter 
not in yourselves, and them that are entering 
in ye hinder." 

To the door of the kingdom of heaven 
there is a key which Jesus Christ names 
Knowledge. This key men may themselves 
refuse to take, and they may even hide it 
away so that others cannot get it. What is 
this key which men may hide, this knowledge 
which they may despise ? 

Knowledge has so many denotations that 
if allowed to jostle one another they produce 
disorder and confusion. There are several 
keys so named, and each fits a different lock 
and opens a different door. 

By knowledge is sometimes meant nothing 
more than the product of the commonest 
processes of memory, such as are within the 
capacity of quite embryonic intelligence. 


Everybody other than a natural can acquire 
this order of knowledge, and make himself 
master of this key. He can be taught to read 
and to write better or worse ; and with the 
key thus put into his hand he may unlock two 
doors, at his choice, the one opening upon the 
way of sober secular enjoyment and of secular 
profit for himself and his fellows ; the other, 
upon the wide descending road of selfishness 
and the misuse of life. Everything depends 
upon the manner in which he uses the petty 
vulgar knowledge, which the community, 
wisely or ignorantly, now compels him to 
acquire. In itself this knowledge has no 
value. It is moreover just as likely to be 
misused as used. A man may corrupt his 
own nature with It, may undermine his will, 
may sap his own and his neighbour s health, 
just as readily as he may learn thereby to 
reinforce his sense of duty, to multiply his 
worth as a man, to enhance his value as a 
member of the state. Whatever his social 
position, the demon steam manipulating the 
printing-press at the bidding of lust of gain 


provides him with unexhausted resources, on 
the one hand for impoverishing his brain, 
corrupting his volitions, sterilising his spiritual 
and moral nature ; on the other, for self- 
instruction, self-education, the chase of truth 
and light. 

Inadvertently I have gone here almost 
further than I meant, nearly confounding, not 
two orders of knowledge, but the same know- 
ledge with itself carried to a higher plane. 
For this knowledge as it travels forward, or, 
in the jargon of the day, as it results from 
secondary in lieu of primary education, assumes 
manifold forms. The memory may be trained 
to many degrees of tenacity and vigour. 
Above all, she may be put into her proper 
place as the handmaid of reason and will. A 
man's mind may amass an astounding treasure 
in knowledge of facts and opinions and 
theories, moving freely among them, com- 
petent perhaps even to express them in several 
languages. It may make itself familiar with 
the elements of thought or the elements of 
things, and may be able to mimic even nature 


herself in putting them together. It may 
guide the hand to a startHng dexterity in 
workmanship, in painting, in sculpture, in 
architecture. There is scarcely a limit to the 
powers of memory, if she be directed by reason 
and compelled by will to labour. 

Like the same knowledge in its lower 
degree, this also is a key unlocking doors. 
It opens to its possessor high forms of enjoy- 
ment and usefulness ; and if he so desire, he 
may unlock therewith the treasure-house of 
the world, to take out therefrom success and 
riches and station. Nevertheless, this is not 
the knowledge which Jesus Christ calls the 

Before all the world had been shown how 
to read and to write, many a man who could 
do neither, yet possessed a knowledge which 
is certainly not more common now than it 
was then. I call to mind patient craftsmen^ 
plowmen, shepherds, and servants : quite 
illiterate they would now be called : whose 
aim and pride was to do the day's work skil- 
fully and faithfully, who thought rather of 


their work than of their wage, forgetting 
self in duty, recognising the dignity of toil, 
ashamed to scamp what they undertook to 
do, self-dissatisfied if what they gave was by 
a nail's-breadth short of their best. Such 
knowledge is an attitude to life, an affair of 
conduct, a product of character. It issues 
sometimes from a long tradition of life spent 
for generations under natural conditions. It 
approaches the knowledge of the fowls of the 
air or of the lilies of the field, which live and 
thrive just as God has willed. 'Tis a light 
which may be dimmed or quenched in humble 
natures by the crude glare of the self-assertive 
knowledge communicated by the will of 

On the higher plane too, if indeed it be 
not wrong to distinguish by such a name 
degrees in this order of knowledge — in the 
case, I mean, of the artist, the explorer of 
secrets in nature, in morals, or in thought, the 
theologian, the lawyer, the scholar — is there 
not a knowledge which receives justly the 
name of key ? An attitude to work, a temper 


attuned to the Creator's mind ? One example 
must serve. An artist, if he be a master in 
his craft, adds to the control of the mechanical 
resources of his art a knowledge of a wholly 
different order. He has not the key of 
knowledge, nor shall he receive it, until he can 
efface self; that is, the love of fame, the love 
of money, everything accidental and unreal, 
and can so sweep and garnish his spirit that 
the ideal and the divine may enter in and dwell 
there. What makes this house great with a 
greatness that takes and holds possession ? 
Its stones are common stones dug from 
quarries which have furnished stones as good, 
but never before or since for such an edifice. 
Wherein lies the difference between one build- 
ing and another ? The minds from which 
this house sprang and grew had gathered 
their cunning painfully in the common way of 
men, but in no common way they had learned 
also to extinguish self, till they were able to 
catch dimly some little part of the creation's 
secret. If there be none who now builds so 
masterfully, it is because none has discovered 


in the same degree the creative force of self- 
extinction, of purity of motive, of obedience 
to truth, of at-one-ment with God in things 
unspiritual, the key of knowledge which un- 
locks the mysteries of nature. 

I have called this knowledge divine, and 
so it is ; a key to nature and truth, and so it 
is. Nevertheless it is not the key to the 
kingdom of heaven ; it is not the knowledge 
which Christ means. It is analogous thereto, 
no doubt, but it is not the same. The one 
key and the other alike open mysteries, but 
the mysteries are different in kind. Before 
him who carries the one key the door of nature 
turns and reveals some at least of the secret 
counsels of God ; but ere long it shuts again, 
when the eye is obscured and the natural 
force perishes. He shall not read all the 
counsel of God, unless he has the other key 
also, the key of life. 

The key of life, like the key of nature, is 
a self-extinction, a self-denial ; but whereas 
the one is an at-one-ment with God in things 
natural and transient, the other is an at-one- 


ment with God In things spiritual and per- 
manent. He who has the key of the spiritual 
world has but to wait for longer or for shorter, 
and the other key shall be his as well. 

When I have understood this, I should 
understand why Jesus never commended or 
taught the self-denial, the self-discontent, that 
is confined to things unsplritual, and why the 
one Ideal which he ever held up to his fellow- 
men was the self-denial, the self-discontent- 
ment, which is the sole source of spiritual 
knowledge. I should discern further why 
among the aids to disclpleship promised by 
Jesus and conferred by the risen and ascended 
Christ there are none which avail for other 
than spiritual progress. Nor Word, nor 
Sacraments, nor Holy Spirit can abet you 
or me to explore aught but spiritual mys- 
teries. The only key df knowledge which 
Christ offers to men Is that which unlocks 

Therefore, though the Jews at the time 
of our Lord had long been sterile alike 
intellectually and morally ; though they begot 


no literature, no art, no science, no philo- 
sophy, it was not on that account that Jesus 
pronounced this woe upon the leaders of the 
nation. Rather it was because they had 
buried the key of spiritual illumination ; 
because the Light of light could not shine 
through them undistorted or shine at all ; 
because the God whom they worshipped was 
made by themselves in man's image ; because 
the tradition of the elders over-rode the law 
of God ; because they set store by the letter 
and ignored the spirit ; because the Messiah 
of the prophets was wrested into a temporal 
deliverer ; because they had eyes but saw 
not, ears but heard not; because they had 
no room in their souls for anything but 
themselves ; because they had no call to hear 
Moses and the prophets, and would not give 
ear, even if one rose from the dead ; because 
they had attained and were content. 

This temper, Jesus implies, is the hiding 
away of the key of knowledge. Self-content- 
ment is atheism, and irreligion, and spiritual 
death. Its contrary in the spiritual field, the 


key of knowledge, must therefore be restless 
dissatisfaction wuth oneself, a continuous 
movement towards something never attained, 
yet plainly described and enunciated by the 
Word himself, and recognisable by all the 
self-dissatisfied as indeed the kingdom of 



The heart knoweth his own bitterness j and a stranger dotk 
not intermeddle with his joy. — Proverbs xiv lo. 

The friends a man loves best and trusts most 
may never have lived except in art or in 
literature. Compared with such friends he 
may often think that the live men and women 
whom he sees and hears, with whom he 
speaks, are unsubstantial. Sometimes if he 
visit spots where are said to have passed their 
days some of these friends whose bodily shape 
none ever saw, the solid ground itself, the 
visible fields and woods, the homesteads and 
the dwellers in them, appear to be less present 
and actual than the ideal persons who for him 
at least haunt the scene. 

The reason for this odd contradiction and 
flat defiance of the senses is that he finds the 
ideal and counterfeit persons more easy to 


comprehend than men and women whose 
souls are hid by flesh and blood. He can 
dress them in any features and frame he likes 
and yet leave their minds and hearts bare. 
He need not be angry or vexed with them, 
for they never cross his projects ; they never 
smile at his infirmities of will or of temper, 
or offend his self-love. His intercourse with 
them is tranquil and happy, undisturbed 
by those misunderstandings and perversions 
whereby men are apt to misread each other 
as faces are distorted in a faulty glass. 

Ideal persons may be judged equitably 
and weighed impartially, a thing impossible 
when the judge and the judged are living 
men. My most familiar friend cannot make 
sure of all my motives and impulses. He 
and I look at many things from very differ- 
ent points. What I think one day I may 
well deny the next, and the inconsistency, 
inevitable to me, may to him be wholly un- 
intelligible. No two men can be at one in 
sentiment or in experience or in judgment. 
Self-will and self-interest, unsuspected even 


by myself, may for a time extinguish my 
candour, and may cause me to misinterpret 
another's conduct. The devil is subtle enough 
to dupe the closest of friends and to tear them 

When two hearts come near beating, as 
the saying is, in unison, the near is at best 
uncommonly far off, and the unison is a mis- 
nomer. When I say of my bosom friend 
" I have known him long," or " We know 
each other intimately," I exaggerate, using a 
common phrase which has acquired a purely 
conventional meaning. I know next to 
nothing of him, though I may guess and infer 
a great deal. In a blind, groping fashion I 
value him for what I think his character is ; 
but he Is In truth a closed book. I neither 
have nor can have any precise, veracious 
knowledge of his motives, nor can I explore 
the springs of his conduct. My beliefs con- 
cerning him are nothing better than a generali- 
sation based upon such of his actions as may 
be known to me. There Is a greater or a less 
balance this way or that, but nothing more. 


In the field neither of feeling nor of thought 
do even the best of friends ever meet. Every 
man knows that his own heart is a sanctuary 
which others cannot enter, a holy ground 
which others may not tread even with naked 
feet. ''The heart knoweth his own bitterness; 
and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his 

When a man's heart is glad and of good 
comfort, can any measure its emotion but 
the man himself? He would be alone, if he 
could ; and if he must go in and out, his joy 
is too sacred to be divulged to his acquaint- 
ance, or even to his friends. It is rather 
when there is fighting within and alarms 
without that his face, with an hypocrisy that 
the angels themselves forgive, puts on the 
mask of gladness and contentment, that God 
alone may know the heart's turmoil and terror. 
Men are indeed a mystery and a problem to 
one another. 

If the young think otherwise, imagining 
that they can bare their whole soul to a friend, 
and can themselves understand another's mo- 


tives and impulses, despairs and aspirations, 
it is from lack of knowledge and experience. 
They only dream that the gulf is bridged, and 
the despair of their awakening is by the dream 
made more bitter and dangerous. 

I suppose it is to all something of a shock 
to discover how little men can know of one 
another ; to all a critical time when impulse at 
last gives way to reason, and the illusions of 
youth are dissipated. The old sanctions of 
conduct are undermined. The foundation of 
character itself may shake, and there is some 
risk of collapse, at all events in the more 
tender and feminine, the more impulsive and 
dependent natures. The shock, whenever it 
makes itself felt, produces one of two results. 
It may enrich the character or it may im- 
poverish it. When a man is compelled to 
realise that it is a condition of his intercourse 
with others that he cannot himself read with 
certainty another's mind, and that no other 
can read his, then, in as much as none is 
exempt from the operation of this law, it is 
impossible for any student of character to 


make quite sure how that man will be affected 
in his attitude towards life by so portentous 
a discovery. Nevertheless, although it is 
impossible to make sure of the issue, it is 
possible at least in some measure to help in 
determining it. If it is true that none can 
explore another's heart, it is true also that the 
character of one man may derive help and 
force from the character of another. Other- 
wise, education might as well come to a stop. 
It would be foolish to attempt it. If education 
meant no more than the getting of so much 
information into another's head, it would be 
a poor business, a mechanic occupation. If 
the young must be told that character is of 
no consequence, that every man should travel 
life's road alone, self-centred and self-sufficient, 
recognising no claims in others, or duties to 
his fellows, concerned for nothing but his own 
profit, devoid of faith and empty of sympathy, 
then the word 'education' may as well become 
obsolete. All hope for the progressive en- 
largement of the ideas which the word em- 
bodies is delusive. It can solve no social 


questions, soften no asperities in the common 
life of men, nor can it have any part in making 
the wilderness blossom like the rose. 

Battered, however, and ill-used though the 
word itself may be — a thing quite natural and 
indeed unavoidable when men write much, 
speak much, read much, without thought or 
reflection — the richer ideas expressed by it 
are nevertheless in no danger. Talk is no 
match for conviction and knowledge. The 
remnant must win in the long run, nor need 
they fear discomfiture when they contend that 
education is just so far successful as it fortifies 
and creates character ; as it braces the will to 
meet courageously and hardily the disillusions 
of manhood ; as it prepares and tempers the 
spirit against the critical time when things 
that have seemed transparent as day become 
obscure as night, when despair grapples with 
hope, and doubt essays to dethrone faith. It 
is the first concern of education so to in- 
vigorate character that the issue of the inevit- 
able conflict be less uncertain ; so to school 
the will that it may at least be capable of 


Victory. There is no need rudely to destroy 
illusions — time will destroy them only too 
soon and too effectually — but, if man can 
indeed aid man, it is the plain duty of such 
as undertake the charge of educating others 
to make sure as far as they can that when 
the illusions of youth burst like a bubble 
a young man's spirit may gain, not lose, 

The mind may be prepared in many 
ways to be content with the undiscovered and 
undiscoverable secret of man's heart, the un- 
told mystery of human intercourse. Like 
everything else obscure and unknowable the 
thing itself perpetually attracts. If men have 
never solved this riddle, it is not that they 
have not tried. If the study of man by man 
is ineffectual, it is neither dull nor unprofit- 
able. From it, as from a vigorous root, grow 
the principal interests of the mind. Literature 
is begotten of it. It is the origin of tragedy, 
the motive of history, the heart of philosophy, 
and art in every form is nothing but an en- 
deavour to divulge the eternal secret. 


I have been brought to speak of the 
difficulty which men experience in under- 
standing one another, because the thought 
can never be long absent from the mind of 
those who have to deal with the young, and 
is never so urgent as when year after year 
the duty comes round, as it has come now, 
of trying to give some sort of help to such 
as claim full citizenship in the kingdom of 
God. The duty would be ill done if it were 
assumed only for the time. It ought to lie 
at the heart from the hour that a boy enters 
the school until the day when he shares for 
the last time in his school life in the daily 
prayers under this roof But the weeks 
before his confirmation bring the duty home 
to his masters with peculiar insistence. If 
every influence under which he has come in 
this place has not been as wholesome and as 
fortifying to his character as it could be made, 
the blame in great measure rests with those 
who have undertaken to train him. If any- 
thing in their lives have misled him, if they 
have failed to leave on his character the 


impress of good, can their hopes for him be 
high ? If on the other hand they have done 
what they could, though conscious of des- 
perate shortcomings, they can nevertheless 
give hopefully the keeping of his heart to God. 
You and I, who are the fathers, the masters, 
or the guardians of these boys, may have no 
certainty concerning the spirit in which they 
now act — God in his wisdom has drawn a 
veil between their hearts and ours — but hope 
and faith and prayer are not denied us. 

If the avenues from heart to heart were 
wide and open thoroughfares, men might, I 
conceive, be either too readily depressed or 
too soon encouraged by the transient moods 
of their neighbours. There would in any 
case be less nutriment for faith. The con- 
ditions of life In the kingdom of God would 
be greatly altered, but would men be thereby 
bettered ? I much doubt if anybody would 
have his attitude to things spiritual and per- 
manent, or to things temporal and transitory, 
at all improved if unbelievers and busybodies 
might explore at their pleasure the byways 


of his thoughts. The scrutiny of men's mo- 
tives is better left to the infinite justice, the 
infinite knowledge, the infinite mercy of God. 
Faith and hope, humiHty and brotherly love, 
penitence, goodness itself, inevitably perish, 
when they are appraised by finite intelligence. 
The inherent inscrutability of human character 
is the stronghold of the kingdom of heaven 
upon earth : " Do thou, when thou fastest, 
anoint thy head and wash thy face ; that 
thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto 
thy Father which is in secret : and thy 
Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward 
thee openly." 

Now if it be acknowledged, and acknow- 
ledged it must be, that it is a law of God that 
none shall penetrate the secret of any soul 
except his own, the conviction ought to affect 
considerably a man's attitude to his fellows 
and his attitude towards himself Seeing 
every day his purposes misconceived and his 
motives misjudged, he must think it likely 
that he himself is apt to misunderstand others. 
He may therefore without any self- disparage- 


ment learn to say, "Have I any right to judge 
another, when it is perhaps with him as it has 
often been with me ? No one had the means 
of knowing all the circumstances which pro- 
duced my action in this matter or in that, and 
it may be that the man acts now in the only 
way in which under the conditions known to 
him he can keep his self-respect. Neither 
can he disclose all his motives, nor can I 
interpret them. His character, like that of 
everybody else, must remain a mystery.'* 

Moreover, human nature being a medley 
in which good and evil blend confusedly, a 
hard judgment is for the most part as likely 
to be wrong as right. Even when a whole 
life seems to have been spent in manifold 
wrong-doing, it would still be preposterous 
to aver that every single action in it is bad ; 
and if there be at any time the merest chance 
that the man's motive is good, then his act 
ought to be construed in his favour in default 
of evidence to the contrary. 

What applies to judgments Upon the con- 
duct of others applies also to censure of their 


beliefs and sentiments. It cannot be often 
justifiable to speak of these as prejudiced and 
perverse. In the first place there is no means 
of getting at the exact truth. If my own 
creed and my own rule of conduct have never 
an absolutely clear outline, my impressions in 
regard to what others believe cannot be very 
definite or certain. I am aware that in my 
own mind there is only a greater or a less 
preponderance of belief or opinion in one 
direction or in another. Even my intimates 
might find it hard to say to which side the 
scale turns. No instinctive sagacity can 
enable a man to read my mind and soul 
unerringly. What right have I, therefore, 
to usurp the ofiice of the Son of man, Jesus 
Christ, the appointed judge of conduct and 
of creed ? 

The inclination to put the worst construc- 
tion upon the actions of others closes the few 
approaches there are to their souls and hearts ; 
whereas genial appreciation of all that may 
conceivably be good does augment the possi- 
bility of nearer intercourse with them. It 


does more ; it augments the moral force and 
spiritual strength of him who practises it. 
Faith in others must be kept at all costs ; for 
without faith in man there cannot be faith in 
God. It is this which makes the time so 
critical at which the illusions of youth take 
flight. If in room of faith in God the young 
man puts belief In himself, and in room of 
faith in others assumes either the sneer of a 
cynic or the considerate tone of a man of the 
world, he has discarded not faith only, but 
humility and charity too. 

So much for the Influence of this thought 
upon the attitude of men to their fellows. I 
must say a word or two, before I have done, 
upon the way In which It may affect their 
estimate of themselves. Men are miserable 
judges no doubt of what they can achieve ; 
nevertheless, if they will only be honest, they 
ought to make the best judges of their own 
capacity to achieve. No one but they can 
tell if in any project they have sought God's 
strength to Increase their own. No one but 
they can measure their tenacity of will, their 


self-denial, their moral and intellectual and 
spiritual force. Who does not recollect times 
when he could not convince others that he 
was right, although he was himself quite sure 
that he must take his own way ? It is a 
foolish person who does not seek counsel, 
but it is a weak person who always takes it. 
Manhood is begotten in the moments of life 
at which thou standest alone, ready to put 
all to the touch, not in wilfulness or arrogance, 
but humbly because thou must. 



Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way f thou 
also shalt be ashamed of Egypt^ as thou wast ashamed 
of Assyria. — Jeremiah ii 36. 

It rested with her neighbours on the Nile 
and on the Euphrates whether Palestine had 
peace or no. The road from Mesopotamia 
to Egypt, from Egypt to Mesopotamia, lay 
through Palestine. Palestine was more than 
once the battlefield of the two powers ; and it 
might be thought that her only security lay 
in allying herself with the one or with the 
other. Nevertheless Jeremiah rebukes, as 
Isaiah had rebuked, the policy of this alliance 
as contradictory to the lessons of Jewish his- 
tory, as unwise in the light of experience, as 
disloyal to the God of Israel. 

But I do not wish to dwell upon this 
direct and primary meaning. It is the 


secondary or implied meaning of which I 
would speak. For this censure Is as applic- 
able to the tendencies and habits of men now 
as it was to the political opinions and national 
bias of the contemporaries of Isaiah and of 
Jeremiah ; nor will the text be strained at all 
in the assertion that it condemns much that 
is characteristic in English life at this time. 
Men are worldly-wise without profit. Always 
eager to be on the winning side, they often 
change sides. They are restless and incon- 
sequent in conduct. They easily tire even of 
the scene in which their daily round of life 
goes on. They do not believe that there can 
be any strength in sitting still. 

It is not easy to compare one age with 
another, the prevailing temper of men in one 
generation with that of their fellows in an- 
other ; but perhaps it is not unjust to say of 
the present time that it is one of the most rest- 
less and most unstable ages in history, more 
rife than most with perverse discontent, with 
vagueness of purpose and waywardness in 
aims, with timorousness in action and dis- 


trust of the future. The way in which men 
constantly speak is tantamount to an admis- 
sion of this charge. They will have it that 
modern life is so complex and intricate that 
those may be forgiven who make nothing of 
it ; that when there are so many things to 
choose from, it is excusable to choose ill, or 
to choose again and again ; that instability, if 
not a virtue, is at least not a sin. 

Modern life may be more complex than 
life ever was before ; the contention is dis- 
putable, but let it pass. If it be more com- 
plex, that is no reason why man's character 
should be so complex as to be unstable ; nay, 
reason all the more for singleness of purpose, 
and simplicity of plan, for taking a line and 
sticking to it. If steadfast purpose there be, 
then life will be all the more interesting for 
its complexity and variety. There will be 
all the more to keep the mind alert and 
active. There will be plenty to fight for, 
plenty to pray for. What is the use of spirit 
and courage and character, if they cannot 
make the complex simple, unravel the intri- 


cate, and bring light Into that which is 
obscure ? The first recorded work of the 
Spirit was to bring order out of chaos ; and 
its work is still the same. The Spirit is 
God's principal gift to man. Everything 
great is simple ; for everything great Is the 
Spirit's creation. 

" Why gaddest thou about to change thy 
way ? " The politician perhaps answers : ''It 
is difficult not to change it when conviction 
draws me one way and duty to my con- 
stituents and to my party draws me another." 
It is difficult unless for him who believes In 
truth and sincerity. Perhaps the philanthro- 
pist will answer : ** A man cannot shut his 
eyes to the miseries of the many, and spend 
all his compassion, and thought, and money 
only upon what is practicable." It is difficult ; 
but on the one side stand reason and common 
sense ; on the other, the sentimentality of a 
self-indulgent man, and a busybody's love of 
meddling. The ecclesiastic too will have his 
answer In the necessity for organisation, as It Is 
called ; for guilds, and meetings, and frequent 


services. Nevertheless the choice he has to 
make is merely the old choice between much- 
serving and the better part. The scholar, 
the man of science, and the artist, are all dis- 
tracted in much the same way, and all aver 
that single-hearted devotion to learning, or 
science, or art, is all the better for tempering 
with luxury, and society, and change of scene, 
and other things that cost money and take 
up time. 

So all their lives many veer and change, 
sometimes putting their hopes in Egypt, 
sometimes in Assyria, and only now and 
then, if ever at all, in the God of Israel. 
There is no reason for surprise if they find 
life complex and embarrassing. They drift 
and hesitate because they postpone their 
better nature and higher aspirations to their 
meaner instincts and desires. They will not 
drive through life great highroads of purpose 
and resolution, stretching away ahead, clearly 
marked and not to be mistaken. 

But how is the right direction first to be 
discovered ? I have no doubt that different 


men find it out In different ways, and that 
most must be content if they can give some 
sort of direction to their lives from the first. 
It does not so much matter which line Is 
taken, so long as some definite aim or design, 
good in itself. Is persistently and hardily pur- 
sued. A young man must do what his 
parents wish, unless he can see his way clear 
to support himself even in taking the first 
steps In the career which he prefers. Many 
other considerations than the necessity of 
keeping body and soul together may debar 
him from doing precisely what he knows 
himself best fitted for. It would be as 
foolish not to let such things guide him more 
or less, as it would be foolish for him to cry 
out like a child if denied that which he has 
set his heart upon. For Is it after all so im- 
portant that a man should be at liberty to 
choose the life for which he believes himself 
best fitted ? The first and principal thing is 
that he should determine to do well the work 
which offers itself. If choose he may, all the 
better ; but in order to get a choice he may 


as well not " fly in the face of providence," 
as the saying is. Perhaps the compulsion 
against which he is inclined to rebel is God's 
way of keeping him right, and a token that 
he may do more valuable work in the field 
which he would never have visited if left to 

But whatever their circumstances, most 
men have more ways than one open to them ; 
and between these they must decide with 
vigour and determination, unless they are 
willing to be asked, *' Why gad ye about to 
change your way ? " The decision they have 
to make for themselves. Nobody else can 
help them to much purpose. None but they 
can fathom the deep wells of their life, their 
character's strength and resources. This no 
doubt is the reason why it has often been in 
solitude that men have learnt the significance 
of life, and formed great resolves, the Son of 
man himself, Moses, Elijah, Paul. They then 
remove themselves from the unrealities and 
hypocrisies of the world, and may apprehend 
life's source and life's progress towards con- 


summation or extinction, Its Issue from God 
himself, Its besieging by Apollyon, Its reunion 
with God through Christ, or destruction from 
God together with Its adversary. The Way 
then declares himself, and the gadding about 
therefrom Is known to be sin. '* Abide In me,'* 
he salth, "and whithersoever thy course on 
earth carries thee, It Is well." 

The preacher has no right to judge any 
save himself ; nevertheless It grieves him 
sometimes to think that the fault must in 
some measure be his own, if perchance any 
to whom he has often preached appear to 
gad about to change their way, going to 
college, for example, for no better reason 
than that they care not to decide what else 
to do, and again, It may be, four years later 
confessing to the like uncertainty, and drift- 
ing into some unloved occupation for a morsel 
of bread. 

It Is urged that the professions, being 
over-crowded, proffer no prospects. The 
excuse has been recorded in other ages and 
in other generations. The reason is very 


different. It Is that many enter the profes- 
sions before they have sat down and counted 
the cost. Few succeed in any profession who 
must have three or four months' hoHday in 
the year, and cannot do without amusement 
and social luxuries. There is no consecra- 
tion of work for those who conceive of it as a 
task or a fatigue which must be recovered 
from. First enterprise, then resolution, then 
self-denial, then contentment, or, if it comes, 
success. It is a stern sequence, but never- 
theless, a thing that makes a man's blood 
tingle like the clash of steel. 

On this day filled full to some here with 
memories derived from many centuries, and 
enriched by the ardent hopes of many gene- 
rations, I shall be forgiven for having thought 
rather of the adolescent than of grown men. 
It is the adolescent whom I would remind 
that there is no permanence, no continuity, 
no coherency in a life that has not been 
thought out and deliberately pursued in good 
report and ill with strength, and endurance, 
and self-respect, and faith. 


Change there will be, and must be, and 
should be not only In particulars of conduct, 
but also in attitude ; yet no gadding about 
from the Way. If a man grows, he may 
at threescore believe the same things as he 
believed when he stood on the threshold of 
manhood, but he must believe them In a 
wholly different way. The things themselves 
have not changed ; but If they were at the 
first worth believing, they must have greatly 
changed the man who has believed them. 
He who lets faith and truth enter his heart, 
takes also with them life and growth. He is 
without faith and truth altogether who drifts 
through life disquieted and discontented, 
demanding money and position as things in 
themselves good, yet unwilling to pay for 
himself the price even of these paltry prizes, 
hoping to find others either in Egypt or In 
Assyria prepared to pay it for him. 


Speaking the truth in love. — Ephesians iv 15. 

I DARE say that if the Scribes and Pharisees 
had ever thought fit to bring to Jesus a man 
taken in insincerity, as they brought the woman 
taken in adultery, and Christ had said *' He 
that is without sin among you shall first 
accuse him " : all must have crept out con- 
victed of conscience. All men are insincere. 
In this matter the best differ from the worst 
in very little else than the more frequent 
conviction of conscience. 

It is not easy to speak the truth ; it is less 
easy still to speak the truth in love, that is, 
to be sincere. For, as I understand them, 
sincerity and the speaking of the truth in love 
are almost equivalents. Some men speak 
the truth and are rude. Others speak the 
truth and are blunt. Others speak the truth 


and are frank. The sincere speak the truth 
not with rudeness, not with bluntness, not in 
frankness, but in love. There is no sincerity 
except that which springs at once from a love 
of truth and from brotherly love. Sincerity 
does not exist apart from charity. Love of 
truth untempered by love for man is a harsh 
mistress, apt to scold and quarrel, effecting 
less for all her scolding than sincerity effects 
by a smile. Before men can be sincere they 
must love their fellows from a sense of fellow- 
ship with them in Christ Jesus. Charity 
saves and sweetens the love of truth, nor lets 
it brew sour products. To change the figure, 
charity disarms the enemies of truth. Men 
do not resent sincerity, even when they 
think him who practises it to be mistaken. 
Sincerity redeems the worst absurdities and 
ignorances. A preacher, for example, may 
appear to his hearers both stupid and ignorant; 
nevertheless they may be not only impressed 
but advantaged by his sincerity. A critical 
contempt for a prophet's or an apostles 
reasoning is quite compatible with a yearning 


envy for his spiritual sincerity and spiritual 
sagacity. The most powerful, the most fruitful 
influences In the world are those like sincerity 
and charity, which derive from the Indwelling 
Word, who Interprets God to man. God Is 
truth ; God Is love ; and this Infinite truth, 
Infinite love, can in part be apprehended by 
the believer In Jesus Christ. 

Each generation must re-discover funda- 
mental truth for itself Men are not now, 
nor are they ever, better than their fathers. 
They but think the same things out In another 
way. They are apt now, as their fathers once 
were apt, to be tolerant of Insincerity in 
themselves and In others, and to read the 
world In a cynical spirit. But cynicism and 
sincerity have no common ground, and tolera- 
tion of faults Is an entirely different thing from 
charity. A cynical man Is not In earnest ; a 
sincere man cannot be other than in earnest. 
He who Is tolerant of the more contemptible 
side of human nature Is certainly not actuated 
therein by brotherly love. The cynical take 
human nature as they see it in Its three-score 


years and ten, and shut their eyes alike to its 
origin and its destination. There is no love 
of truth in such an attitude ; no love of others ; 
no glorifying of God or of man. It is plain 
infidelity and insincerity, a vilifying of the 
Creator and of his creatures. 

Which side dost thou take thyself? The 
side of the real, or of the false, of the father of 
lies, or of the God of truth ? 

It was said very long ago by somebody 
who was himself of the sort, that to be really 
great a man must be sincere, must mean what 
he says, must mean what he does ; in a word, 
must be so much in love with truth and 
reality that not only are his words and acts a 
genuine expression of himself, but the end 
and aim of his life is the discovering and 
divulging of truth. Sincerity at its best is a 
comprehensive attitude of character, a sort of 
habit of the soul. The sincere man is in 
chase of truth. It does not matter so much 
whether he finds truth, but he must search for 
her as for hid treasure. He may be dull, and 
slow, and inobservant, and may search in the 


wrong places ; but if he be In earnest, his 
disability shall not be urged against him in 
the day of the Lord. 

It is the search for truth, rather than the 
descrying of truth, which invests a life with 
dignity and durability. Which is the greater 
statesman ? the man to whom it is enough 
that a measure be popular and likely to 
further his own ambitions ; or the man who 
in honesty and sincerity of purpose labours to 
meet what he believes to be the actual social 
and political needs of his time ? The one 
may not indeed apprehend the needs of his 
time, or he may misconceive the aspirations 
of his contemporaries, but he has at least 
sought after truth. He has shown faith in 
God and in humanity, and to that extent he 
has the elements of greatness in him. And 
who are the writers that live ? Those only 
who have pursued truth by some of the many 
paths on which her vision sometimes stands ; 
and of them all, the most enduring, the best 
beloved, are they whose eyes have been 
opened to that vision by the spirit of brotherly 


love, so that in reading man's heart to men, 
they make not men cynical or self-contemp- 
tuous, but inspire a new respect for man. 

The chase of truth, let me repeat, is of 
greater concern than the attainment of it. 
There is so much in regard to which man can 
never be sure whether he has arrived at truth 
or no. He must often be content to wait 
upon time. Often also there is nothing to be 
done but to wait upon the Lord, and to let 
eternity reveal his success or unsuccess in the 
pursuit of truth. WilHngness to search and 
wait is faith. By faith alone man follows 
truth into the presence of God. 

I do not believe that any man who has 
really fallen in love with truth will ever con- 
sent to give up the pursuit of her. He may 
have fits of disloyalty and unfaith, but on the 
whole he shall continue to love her. He has 
the habit of loving truth, and cannot live 
without her. Happily men are judged at the 
last by their ideals and their abiding attitude 
towards them, and not by their performance 
or successes. It is in abiding attitude that a 


difference lies between the sincere man and 
the insincere, the veracious and the false, the 
lover of truth and the respecter of persons and 
conventions. The difference is a difference 
in kind, not of degree. No training that man 
can provide can make the unreal man real, or 
change an unbeliever into a believer. Love 
of truth has but one source, the Lord and 
giver of life. But if men can create the love 
of truth no more than they can create the 
fruits of the earth, they may nevertheless 
cultivate and increase the love of truth as 
they cultivate and increase the herbs of the 
field. They may increase it in themselves ; 
they may increase it In their fellows. 

Speaking as a schoolmaster, I am not sure 
that sincerity is not the fruit which best 
rewards him whose work is to dig about and 
dung the growing plants of human character. 
Sincerity is not appetite for Information. 
Love for Information may co-exist, does often 
co-exist, with shiftlessness and fatuity of nature. 
Such knowledge may leave the man's best 
part unfed and lean. But let there be an 


appetite for truth, a love for Ideas ; the 
character then strengthens and spreads. The 
sap of sincerity rises ; there Is Hfe and there 
Is growth. Facts are not educative, unless 
they be used as a stuff for ideas to work upon ; 
whereas even erroneous Ideas may educate 
when they are either formed or accepted from 
a desire to apprehend truth. Who does not 
recall some Idea, absurd perhaps, or at least 
untenable, that set up such a ferment in the 
soul as to keep it at work for months in the 
eager chase of truth ? You may fill a mind 
with information, yet leave It perfectly inert 
and sterile ; but once tempt a man to speculate 
and you begin to educate him. Knowledge 
of facts there must be ; but until such know- 
ledge begin to be fertilised, education begins 

That this conception Is just, that this ideal 
should be pursued, may be demonstrated, I 
believe, from the Gospel itself It was thus 
that Jesus taught. To compel the mind to 
take the ideas in and turn them over and 
over, every means Is employed for surprising 


and startling ; sometimes irony, sometimes 
paradox, sometimes exaggeration other than 
paradox; in a word, anything and everything 
which can subvert the conventional attitude 
of man. When a man lets an idea, a vision 
of truth, occupy him ; suffers it to enter his 
heart, and as Christ says, set up a ferment 
there, he begins to become a spiritual being, 
a lover of truth, a believer in God. He is 
alive, and has a zest for life. He is sincere. 

The love of truth is an education for the 
whole man, for mind and body as for character 
and spirit. He who is most in love with 
truth will be least inclined to make distinc- 
tions and see differences between intellectual 
truth, moral truth, spiritual truth, and — why 
should I not say it ? — truth of body. Human 
nature is not made up of separate parts in 
juxtaposition — the spirit, the character, the 
mind, the body. It is one, and undivided, 
and indivisible. To educate one part Is to 
educate all. That is not education of body, 
of mind, of soul, in which any one is made 
much of to the neglect of the rest. Truth 


will accept no partial allegiance. She refuses 
to be loved at all by those who ask that in 
some things they may deny her. 

There are some here who are aware how 
far the preacher himself has fallen short of this 
ideal — that the principal result of education 
should be to awaken the love of truth. There 
is all the more reason why he should affirm 
on what may perhaps be his last opportunity 
of addressing them, that however little he 
may have realised the ideal, he has at least 
tried to realise it. He may have searched 
for truth and not found her ; but the finding 
is a small matter both for them and for him- 
self. To love truth, and inspire others with 
the love of truth, is to use life for the purpose 
for which life was given. How great then 
shall be his condemnation who accepts the 
place of a parent for the children of others, 
and does not at least endeavour to teach that 
the search for truth, especially where truth 
cannot be apprehended at all without the aid 
of the Spirit, is life itself; that thereby re- 
generation sets in within the soul ; a process 



begins which converts that which is mortal 
into an immortal and ever-vigorous vitality ; 
that above all there is no cause to fear failure 
in this search if only it be eagerly pursued, 
forasmuch as the Judge at the last shall 
judge men not by their sagacity but by their 
persistence, not by their success but by their 

I wonder if visions of truth await you 
whom we shall send out two days hence to 
go up and down among men. Will you 
choose convention and hypocrisy, or truth 
and reality ? Will the tree of your life grow 
out of the love of truth or of the love of self ? 
What will the Judge say to you in the day of 
the Lord ? 



But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them 
that despitefully use you, and persecute you j that ye may 
be the children of your Father, which is in heaven; for 
he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, 
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. — 
Matthew v 44. 

In other words, take God for your pattern in 
your treatment of those who do not love you, 
much more in your dealings with men in 
general. In your relations with one another 
be magnanimous in act and in thought, just 
as God in nature is magnanimous. The 
processes of nature go on entirely irrespec- 
tive of the moral and spiritual attitude of 
man. God does not withhold his bounty 
from anyone simply because he is a bad man. 
The fields of the good fare no better for rain 
and sunshine than the fields of the godless. 
Treat one another with the like absolute 


disregard of desert, with the like patient 
toleration, as God in nature deals with men ; 
and you will share in the spirit of God ; you 
will be the children of your Father which is 
in heaven. 

It is conceivable, perhaps not wholly im- 
probable, that in forty centuries the natural 
truth here employed by Jesus Christ twenty 
centuries ago to expound and affirm the moral 
and spiritual obligation to magnanimity, may 
have become matter of common knowledge, 
and even of common acknowledgement ; but 
who can bring himself to believe that in any 
number of centuries whatsoever the virtue of 
magnanimity, which it is used to enforce, will 
manifest itself as an Inherent and inseparable 
property of human character ? After two 
thousand years of Christian progress there 
are still heard in Christian churches prayers 
that ignore and belie the doctrine of Christ, 
that the divine government of the natural 
world is not concerned with the moral be- 
haviour, or the spiritual attitude of men. It 
is not likely that the subtle spiritual quality, 


of which it is taken as the sample, will ever 
be adopted except by the remnant. 

The superstitious belief in supernatural 
visitations and interventions may indeed be 
discarded ; the magnanimity of God in the 
government of nature may indeed be at last 
confessed by the voice of man ; but confessing 
is not imitating. Jesus nowhere says that 
the teaching of Christ will be accepted by all. 
The world must first become not merely the 
Christian Church ; it must change to the 
kingdom of God, the very body of Christ, 
before magnanimity become at all a common 
principle of human action. So long as men 
are men there must be dross of hate and 
revenge, malice and resentment, pettiness 
and uncharitableness, misconstruction and 
attributing of motives, requiring to be puri- 
fied in human character, to be transmuted 
painfully and laboriously by all who would 
imitate God into the undimmed orold of 

Christ here speaks of magnanimity as an 
essential attribute of God, that may be re- 


produced in man, as made in the image of 
God, reproduced consciously by imitation. 
Such in effect is the meaning of the words, 
** That you may become the children of your 
Father which is in heaven " — afi interpreta- 
tion confirmed, if any wish to have it con- 
firmed, by the concluding phrase of the 
passage, " Be ye therefore perfect, even as 
your Father which is in heaven is perfect." 
It is a truth long since perceived and 
accepted that the one faculty which differ- 
ences men from beasts, and confers the 
aptitude for progress, is just the capacity 
for imitating, to which the teaching of Jesus 
assigns so momentous a part in the spiritual 
education of man. It is a faculty so spon- 
taneous, so easily developed, as to be legiti- 
mately termed instinctive. Mankind owe 
the better part of their progress to imitation. 
By its operation every generation may begin 
where the generation next before it left off. 
It is the lasting condition and basis of all the 
arts and the sciences. It is the source of 
literature, even of language itself The 


instinct of imitation Is a law as universal in 
its application to thought as the law of gravi- 
tation Is to nature. Human existence cannot 
be Imagined divorced from it. 

If I watch children at play, I see for my- 
self how the Imitative process began which 
enriches the world with masterpieces In 
sculpture and architecture, in design and 
painting, In drama and story. Children re- 
produce everything and anything they see 
about them. They play in the market-place 
at a wedding or at a funeral ; they buy and 
sell ; they entertain and receive entertain- 
ment. Every phase of the life of their 
elders is an occasion for mimicry. The 
senses' highest office Is to minister to this 
handmaid of progress. Because It Is so, 
because the mind of man works naturally 
in imitation, a man's surroundings are Im- 
measurably important, example has Infinite 
moral significance, the incarnation possesses 
a tremendous spiritual import. 

The methods of educating most often 
employed by Jesus Christ recognise and 


involve, completely and unreservedly, this 
primary law of thought. It is his habit to 
express, so to say, spiritual truths in earthly 
terms, that they may be made the more easy 
for men to realise and copy. In the incarna- 
tion, in his life as the Son of man, Christ 
addresses to men the parable of parables, 
whereby they may learn how God himself 
would act in man's place. The reason is 
entirely satisfied by the adequacy and the 
simplicity of the means. Believe in the 
Godhead of Jesus ; have faith in the Word ; 
then suffer the most powerful, the most 
active, instinct of thy nature to assert itself. 
Imitate Jesus, and thou shalt imitate Christ 
and God. 

Can there be a better way for overcoming 
the pettinesses, the resentments, the queru- 
lousness, the malice and uncharitableness, of 
which the heart is conscious, than by imita- 
ting with the whole strength that he himself 
confers, the divine perfection of attitude 
manifested in the Son of man ? Shall man 
be ever able to forgive, unless he take 


Christ's spirit as exemplar for his own ? 
Shall he ever share in the peace of God, 
unless he imitate the love of God divulged 
to him in the charity of Jesus ? 

Study God in his life among men, the 
Son of man moving among the sons of men ; 
watch the supreme patience, the generous 
consideration, the dignity of bearing, the 
serenity of spirit, which are the plain ex- 
pression of the divine magnanimity in Jesus 
Christ. 'Tis the Spirit of God made capable 
of imitation by human nature. 'Tis in a word 
the ideal of conduct, wherein self-respect and 
self-effacement are reconciled. 'Tis the human 
counterpart of the justice of God united with 
the love and the mercy of God. 

It would seem as though at one time 
some particular virtue were more difficult 
to practise than at another, some vice or 
fault of character more common. Circum- 
stances often determine the prevailing virtues 
and vices of a period in the life of a man or 
of a community. The soul of man knows it. 
At times even magnanimity appears to come 


easily, and pettiness to be detestable; and 
the soul flatters itself that ideals are after all 
not unattainable, whereas it is not the soul 
that has improved, but the soul's surround- 
ings. The self-flatterer's house is swept and 
garnished for the old spirit to re-enter with a 
following of seven. 

That temptation takes its shape and 
colour from circumstances explains perhaps 
the apparent dearth of magnanimity at the 
present time. Even the church has expe- 
rience of the famine. Where the virtue of 
magnanimity should be most conspicuous, 
pettiness of spirit and readiness to misin- 
terpret and misrepresent are not uncommon ; 
and these declare themselves in respect to 
questions that for an adult understanding, to 
say nothing of the Christian temper, have no 
sort of consequence. Men in a rage are not 
magnanimous, and perhaps men lose their 
temper most about things that do not matter. 
Magnanimity is a plant whose roots go deep 
down in the strong, generous soil of convic- 
tion and reason and justice, whereas temper 


thrives best in hot and hungry ground. If 
Jesus, who knew all men, was magnanimous, 
then men within the church of Christ, wholly 
unable as they are to read the heart, might 
at least reserve judgment in respect to the 
motives from which others act, or might 
even interpret their actions magnanimously. 
Motives are puzzling things. They are often 
composite when they are thought to be simple, 
and partake in good when they seem to be 
wholly evil. The magnanimous man is more 
likely to be right in his verdicts upon others 
than the harsh or the cynical. It is a sound 
principle for the judge of his neighbour to 
give his neighbour credit for at least as pure 
motives as the judge himself likes to take 
credit for. 'Tis a vast help to the judgment, 
and it makes some degree of equity possible 
in the interpretation of conduct. 

If to imitate the. magnanimity of Jesus is an 
ideal constantly forgotten at the present time 
in the church which Jesus founded, it is not 
surprising that in politics and in society there 
should be some lack of magnanimity. Even 


the rules of the game, the show and semblance 
of magnanimity, are neglected. Men will not 
shake hands before the swords cross. Is it 
the case that men are too much in earnest to 
think of compliments ? It cannot be so. 
Belief in the justice of a cause, earnestness 
of conviction and in purpose, the desire to 
see truth prevail, are qualities that demand 
good company. They are more in keeping 
with magnanimity than with jealousy and bit- 
terness, uncharitableness and recrimination. 
The tranquillity of spirit and the self-respect 
begotten of magnanimity are better fitted to 
advance truth and a just cause than excited 
feeling and neglect of good manners. 

Those In this congregation whose position 
to-day compels both sympathy and interest 
perhaps ask themselves why the preacher 
has selected such a subject as this for their 
consideration, at a time when their thoughts 
rather incline to linger lovingly over their 
boyhood, or dwell hopefully on the antici- 
pated triumphs of manhood. It Is because man- 
hood now begins for them that he so speaks. 


Unless the signs of the times are ill discovered, 
they are sure in regard to many great national 
interests and public movements to need mag- 
nanimity sorely. " It will be foul weather 
to-day, for the sky is red and lowering.'* 
Times of shock and tumult are at hand, 
when old ideas must make good their place, 
or else give ground before the new. Untried 
social forces are marshalling for war against 
old-established conditions. There is no saying 
what the end will be ; but this much may be 
foretold : that the character of the conflict will 
primarily depend upon the spirit and temper 
in which it is fought out. Anyone can see 
what a difference magnanimity may make if 
exercised by one side or by both, by few or 
by many, in a great struggle. Fight, I be- 
seech you, like men, delighting in the play 
and clash of swords, and not like children or 
angry women, sulking or scolding, or calling 
names. Put all your strength into each stroke, 
but let it be a fair, not a foul stroke. Let your 
weapon be the clean white blade of argument 
and reason. Keep the conflict a war of ideas, 


and not of classes or interests ; or it may 
change, as this century has more than once 
seen it change, into ** a battle of the warrior 
with confused noise, and garments rolled in 



The voice of him that crieth, In the wilderness prepare ye 
the way of the Lord, ?nake straight in the desert a 
highway for our God. — ISAIAH xl 3. 

Not long ago in debating with somebody 
what he should do to make a living I sug- 
gested that he might become a servant of the 
crown in India. His reply startled me, *' But 
do not Englishmen often succumb to the 
climate ? " Others may have thought in the 
same way before, but to me at least the 
thought had never been so bluntly expressed. 
That any capable, generous young English- 
man should take life in so calculating a spirit 
was enough to set me thinking whether there 
was anything in the circumstances of the time 
which could explain so unusual a contradic- 
tion to the natural attitude of youth towards 
adventure and enterprise. Here was a man, 


belonging to the generation which in twenty 
years time should form the core and pith of 
the state, who as judged out of his own 
mouth seemed to believe that the best suc- 
cess in life is — living. 

As I questioned experience and sought 
to watch other straws that, like this answer, 
might indicate how the current of sentiment 
was setting, the signs on the whole seemed 
to declare that in this age, which prides itself 
upon its intellectual and spiritual conquests, 
the temptation is as powerful as ever to over- 
esteem the life of the body, and to put carnal 
well-being and length of days before ideals 
and before such spiritual facts as self-sacrifice ; 
or, as Isaiah says in the passage from which 
the text is taken, to prefer '' the flesh and the 
goodliness thereof" to " the spirit of the Lord 
and the word of our God." I shrink from 
calling the temptation stronger now than in 
the past ; but if it be the case that men give 
over crying with their forefathers, " Life to 
him that has courage to lose it ! " and begin, 
as I think they do, to cry shamefully, *' Life 


to him that has the sense to keep it ! " the 
body is certain ere long completely to master 
the spirit. But be the case which it may, 
there is now, as in the age of Isaiah, some 
need to ruminate that the flesh and the good- 
llness thereof make not the slim and substance 
of human life, but that life has dignity, and 
partakes In permanence just so far as it sub- 
mits itself to those influences which from 
their nature must be at odds with the flesh — 
the voice from on high, the Spirit of the 
Lord that bloweth upon man, the Word of 
his God. 

When the prophet speaks of himself as 
the voice of one crying, he would lay down 
the burden of the flesh, and become spiritual 
as his message. Before a man can be called 
the voice of one crying, he must be detached, 
as it were, from the life of the flesh, divorced 
from human relationships, sexless, without a 
history. To himself the flesh and the ap- 
purtenances of the flesh have been as steps 
climbed, upon which he may look down and 
back, yet not descend; but if he be held 



worthy to become thereafter the voice of 
one crying, others had better be unacquainted 
with his clambering, or the voice may be 
diminished in ring and compass. 

That this truth is in the present day 
wholly ignored : and wholly ignored it cer- 
tainly is : cannot be otherwise interpreted 
than as a plain sign that men are as much 
tempted as ever to deny the ideal and to 
magnify the flesh. 

This might with truth be described as. 
an age of biographies. Biographies often 
colossal, and alas ! too often the biographies 
of churchmen, appear every other month. By 
itself this is a demonstration that men do not 
now believe in the inherent permanence and 
essential impersonality of ideas. But not 
content with thus lowering or destroying the 
fullest tones in the crying voices of their 
own time, they rummage everywhere in 
hidden nooks and forgotten corners for the 
means to disendow the voices of the old 
prophets of some at least of their spiritual 
message. They lament that there can be nO' 


biography of either Isaiah or of either EHas. 
They compass sea and land to discover how- 
Shakespeare clambered upwards, or Dante, 
or Chaucer ; and if by accident an inch or 
two of the worm-eaten steps remain, they 
peer at them for marks of a stumble or of a 
halt, and rejoice if they seem to trace it. 
The voice crying, the Spirit of the Lord 
calling aloud by these men, is not enough : 
it is too impalpable and ideal. The picture 
of a man's person must be made up by the 
aid of dates and periods, of details concern- 
ing his friends and acquaintance, his habits 
and tricks, his looks and gestures. Even 
with the life of lives as God has let men see 
it — I say it with reverence — some men are 
ill content ; and they would try to clothe the 
crying voice of the Son of man himself with 
the goodliness of flesh. Yet to contemplate 
the manner of that record should surely dis- 
close how God would have man regard the 
material, carnal setting of a human life. 

The two genealogies in the gospels are 
and always will be a puzzle. The year io 


which Jesus was born is uncertain. His age 
at the crucifixion Is unknown. There Is a 
lasting doubt as to the precise day of his 
death. It is left obscure whether he had 
younger brothers and sisters or no. Of 
definite notes of time In his life there are 
few, fewer far than are required to make the 
narrative clear. There Is not one phrase or 
word In the gospels descriptive of his bodily 
presence. Even of his sepulchre no man 
knoweth unto this day. There must be 
design here. This dwelling upon the voice 
crying, this neglect of all material Incidents 
in the life of him who cries, cannot be mere 
accident. God would never have denied to 
men the knowledge of this side of such a life 
if the knowledge could be of moral or spiritual 
use. If faith and love and hope, If strength 
and force of character, could have been aug- 
mented thereby, men would have been per- 
mitted to see in their exact correlation all the 
incidents in the life of the Son of man. It 
would have been made possible for anyone 
to contemplate his bodily image, to trace his 


history from childhood, to reduce his work to 
a precise chronological order ; in a word, to 
materialise, or at least to de-spiritualise, the 
life of man's spiritual master. Instead, it 
abides for everlasting the voice of one cry- 
ing. Jesus is the Word, and the Word only. 
This is a tremendous lesson. It is a 
veritable arraignment of the view prevailing 
now, unabashed and assertive, whereby it is 
thought good to perpetuate the most trivial 
material accidents of men's lives. Some who, 
if only let be, might have been for ages cry- 
ing voices, prophets of the Highest, are 
degraded and despoiled by ill-judging bio- 
graphers, who in truth's name lay bare the 
life, not of the man whom they pretend to 
honour, but of his meaner and mortal double. 
Of the greater men in any generation — 
poets, orators, preachers, prophets — biogra- 
phies should not be written. Let them be 
as voices crying. If in that cry they have 
delivered themselves in some measure from 
the material encumbrances of life, let them 
be advantaged thereby themselves and ad- 


vantage their hearers. Why replace the 
voice in its fleshly tabernacle ? If biogra- 
phies had been in fashion in the past, the 
spiritual heritage bequeathed by the past 
could not have been so rich as it is. They 
that are voices crying for everlasting, bid- 
ding the wilderness to rejoice and the desert 
to blossom as the rose, prophets of Israel, 
prophets of Greece, and of Italy, and of 
England, would still be tied fast in the chain 
of their carnal infirmities, men earthly, and 
unspiritual, and mortal. 

It is not so easy to contemn the goodli- 
ness of the flesh that men can afford to 
surround anew with their carnal environment 
those whose crying voices help others to 
understand that he lives best who most 
effectually detaches himself from the earthly 
and the carnal, from love of life, love of self, 
love of fame, and seeks to become but the 
voice of one crying. 

It is possible by art to preserve for very 
many years the bodies of men in a sort of 
ghastly caricature of those who once wore 


them. The practice of biographers resembles 
the art of embalmers. For a shorter time or 
a longer it preserves from entire decay that 
which had better be suffered to perish ; but 
It cannot aid in perpetuating the crying voice, 
or the spirit that begotten from God partakes 
in God's eternity and infinitude. Nay, it 
tends to abridge the voice's compass and to 
curtail the spirit's power to save. 

This criticism, however inadequate and 
fragmentary, of one noteworthy tendency of 
the day may serve to bring home to speaker 
and hearer both, that they have one prime 
duty — to separate themselves by the strength 
of Christ, and according to the example of 
Jesus, from the circle of ideas to which this 
idea pertains, that the greatest success in life 
is the postponing of bodily death. 

Let me be forgiven If I now address more 
particularly those of the audience in whose 
imaginations the present brief week shapes 
itself at one moment as the last week of 
boyhood and in the next as the first week of 
manhood. It was not one of them who asked 


if a man did not risk an early death by going- 
to India ; nevertheless, some time they may 
be tempted to think with him, and it is well 
for all to be often reminded of that which the 
Bible declares to be the first duty of man. 

The temptations which you will meet with, 
whether at the university or in society else- 
where, are perhaps not so grossly material as 
those which young men in past generations 
have often experienced, but they are certainly 
more subtle, and just as hazardous. The 
voices of the prophets and false prophets are 
crying all round you. The din made by the 
false prophets is so loud that it is not easy 
to hear the true. But when the ear grows 
accustomed to the clamour, there is no mis- 
taking the voice of a true prophet. Distin- 
guish him by the note in his crying, not by 
what others tell you about him. Many who^ 
like David, are true prophets, have yet at 
times in their lives been enthralled by the 
goodliness of the flesh. Nor think to hear 
the prophet's voice more distinctly by giving 
way to the childish craze, now so easily grati- 


fied, of making a pilgrimage to the scene of 
his earthly life. There is one place only, no 
doubt, in all the world that is part and parcel 
of a man's being, the fields, namely, on which 
his eyes first opened, the home wherein he 
grew ; but it is presumptuous to imagine that 
you can see with his eyes fields or home. 
Nor yet seek your prophets by the aid of 
newspapers, magazines, or reviews. You 
will hardly hear the voices crying there, but 
you may thus lose the best instrument to find 
them with, your concentration of mind, your 
strength of will. 

Even those of you whose one ideal for 
the present is to excel in manly exercises, 
will yet give ear to the true voice, not the 
false, if they treat the game impersonally, so 
to speak, esteeming a feat a feat in itself, 
quite apart from the man who performs it. 
In other words, learn as little as you can of 
the private lives of great cricketers, football- 
players, and sportsmen. 

I hope you will all think me impertinent 
for bidding you not to be influenced in the 


choice of a profession by any thought of its 
perils, but only by the conviction that, more 
than other professions, it will call out your 
manhood. Nor simply follow with the crowd 
the line of least resistance. It is no doubt 
the duty of everybody to support himself as 
soon as he can, but there is no reason why a 
strong young man should have luxuries, or 
require a long holiday every year, or constant 
amusement or pleasant surroundings. Let 
him be strong and endure ; then all else will 
come of itself. There are voices crying 
aloud to him, as to all, that a man's life con- 
sists not In the abundance of the things which 
he possesseth ; that even the Son of man had 
not where to lay his head. 

** In the wilderness prepare ye the way 
of the Lord; make straight in the desert a 
highway for our God." 



// is lawful to do well. — MATTHEW xii 12. 

Though I may not judge another, I may be 
aware that his attitude disarms for the time 
even omnipotence of the power to help him. 
Though I may not condemn another, I may 
nevertheless feign to adopt his standpoint ; 
then proceeding from it by direct and honest 
reasoning reduce it to absurdity. Insight into 
character is no sin. Argument and irony are 
lawful instruments of persuasion, never denied 
by Jesus Christ to him who would become an 
impersonal critic of himself or of another. 
To search for truth Is neither to judge nor to 
condemn a fellow-man, but rather to assist 
him. They who inquired if it was lawful to 


heal on the sabbath day may have been so 
Winded by self-complacency as not to under- 
stand the irony in the answer, " It is lawful 
to do well " ; yet that answer is become 
an unspent treasure of truth for the self- 

Jesus employs irony most often with the 
Pharisees, but occasionally even with his 
disciples when they fall into the sin of Phari- 
sees ; as with the two brothers, who made 
sure that they could drink of the same bitter 
cup and be submerged in the same sea of 
suffering as himself; and with them all 
together, when even at the last they miscon- 
ceived the character of his work, saying in 
their self-deception, '' Here are two swords,'* 
and he said, '' It is enough." 

In dealing thus with deliberate and self- 
willed blindness Jesus gives not that which is 
holy unto the dogs, nor casts his pearls before 
swine. He takes the prejudiced at their own 
valuation. Pharisees are, he knows, so com- 
pletely satisfied with their prvileged condition, 
their federal relation to God, that nothing can 


persuade them that they need saving. Did 
they not cast his teaching in his teeth even as 
he died, "He saved others, he cannot save 
himself" ? They are such staunch adherents 
of the letter that they are absolved from the 
spirit. They are not as other men are ; they 
have eschewed extortion. Injustice, adultery, 
from their youth up ; they fast ; they support 
missions ; they build churches ; they pay God 
money ; they need no mercy like common 
men. Therefore Jesus takes them at their 
word. He assumes their point of view, and 
by the arguments of a scribe proves in 
despairing irony the legality of doing good, 
even on the sabbath day. 

Tranquil as it appears, this irony has 
nevertheless Its counterpart in the tempestuous 
indignation of the woes pronounced by Jesus 
Christ upon Pharisees. In the one case 
'tis a man implying, not even expressing, 
rebuke ; suggesting In a tone which need 
scarcely disturb the hearers* self-contentment 
that men may so fall in love with untruth as 
to lose the perception of truth. In the other 


case 'tis the Judge of men exercising his 
office. The irony of Jesus is an admission 
of the limitations imposed by the human will 
upon the power of God. It is the Son of 
man himself who says, '' When the Son of 
man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?'* 
What is this which disables the Almighty, 
which makes man as unconscious of holiness 
as though he were a dog, as reckless of the 
pearl of truth as any swine ? It is only the 
preferring of the letter to the spirit. It is 
self-righteousness. It is the playing the part 
of the servant of God rather than the being 
the servant of God. It is unreality. It is 
not hypocrisy in the English sense of the 
word, because hypocrisy is conscious, whereas 
Pharisees believe themselves to be accepted 
of God. This is precisely what makes their 
attitude so desperate. It is not unbelief; it 
is perverted belief It is not exactly worldli- 
ness ; it is a worldly religion. It is religion 
without the spirit. It is the **form of godliness 
without the power." It is religiosity. It is 
ecclesiasticism. The unreal man says, " I 


thank God that I am not as other men are.'* 
" All these things have I kept from my youth 
up. What lack I yet ? " '' Lord, Lord, when 
saw I thee an-hungered, or athlrst, or a 
stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and 
did not minister unto thee ? " " Have I not 
prophesied in thy name and in thy name cast 
out devils ?" ''I am able to drink of thy 
cup." He does not say, '* God be merciful to 

me a sinner." 

I have chosen this subject because there 
are some in this congegation who as inheritors 
of a privilege have for the last five or six 
years prayed daily in this church, and now 
are about to surrender this priyllege; and 
because the preacher also has had a privilege 
now to be surrendered, so far at least as these 
worshippers are concerned, the privilege of 
reminding them from this pulpit that the 
cardinal instrument of education Is submis- 
siveness to the spirit of Jesus Christ. 

What have these two privileges produced 
between them ? self-distrust, or self-satisfac- 
tion ? a love of truth, or of untruth ? devotion 


to the reality of Ideals, or absorption In the 
unrealities of the world ? Each must answer 
for himself. None can bare his soul to his 
fellow. If he can say, ** God be merciful to 
me a sinner," then Jesus Christ has not turned 
from him, saying, " I came not to call the 
righteous but sinners to repentance." If he 
knows that he has broken every law, Jesus 
has not said to him, '* It is lawful to do good," 
but only, ** Where are thine accusers ? go and 
sin no more." 

There are always so many questions that 
men call urgent and momentous vexing the 
world, that it Is tranqullllsing and Invigorating 
to seek the well of truth and Him who sits 
thereby. For to drink thereof is to discover 
that after all, these things are neither so urgent 
nor so momentous as men conceive. They 
ask, ** Is It lawful to do this or to do that ?" 
as though Jesus had never said, " It is lawful 
to do good." They are troubled with much 
service, as though Jesus had never told the 
laborious Martha that her sister had chosen 
better than she. They magnify the church, 


and forget the frequent sayings of its founder 
that the church is not conterminous with the 
kingdom of God. They make much of 
doctrines and uses which at best are only 
the appurtenances of an organisation, and at 
worst are contrary to the unglossed teaching 
of Jesus Christ. 

In these many questions and controversies 
they who now go out from this school must 
in the natural order of things take a part, and 
perhaps may some of them some day play 
a great part. But whether their place be 
humble or considerable, they will help to 
determine great questions in the best way 
only if to their solving they bring the convic- 
tion that the spirit is everything and the letter 
nothing. They must fight very often on 
what seems to be the losing side. That is 
not of consequence. Who can tell in any 
particular case that in God's sight defeat is not 
more valuable than victory ? But it is of 
consequence that at least one man has not 
taken a side from want of thought, or from 
prejudice, or from respect for public opinion, 



or from interested motives, but has sincerely 
endeavoured to explore the truth, and to 
contemplate the naked spirit hid by the letter 
of such unrealities and deceptions. 

Truth has not become very much more 
easy to discover since Pilate's day. The 
spirit of Christ has no doubt acted as a leaven,, 
but Christ himself, says that it will never 
leaven all mankind. There will always be 
elder brothers who need no repentance, as well 
as penitent prodigals and abashed sinners. 
Christ must always be arguing, "It Is lawful 
to do good." For Is there not another leaven 
at work among men, that which was once 
named the leaven of the Pharisees and of 
Herod ? Christ has still to say to men, as 
Jesus said to his disciples, ** Do ye not yet 
understand ?" He has still to say in patient 
irony when men declare that they have swords 
wherewith to lop off Malchus' ear, *' It is 
enough." Human nature is still, and will 
always remain, loth to confess that the spirit 
alone imparts truth. 

I know well that some here with whom I 


have lived like father with sons for some 
years have seen at least in a measure what 
this means, and thereby have quickened the 
life of a little community. Will they go on 
seeking after truth and reality, and thus in 
groping faith send the same spirit out from 
them, growing, as they themselves grow, to 
greater strength ? They may not easily 
see the effect ; but effect there will be not- 
withstanding. If they take orders, will they 
try the effect of the spirit first ? Even St 
Paul had often to argue that the spirit is 
more effectual than organisation. Is it certain 
that no warning is needed now ? Even St 
Paul had to fight during his whole life against 
the bondage of the letter. Is such bondage 
unheard of now ? If they become school- 
masters, I wonder whether they will try first 
if spiritual fire, kindled by their own earnest- 
ness inspired by Christ, will melt the indolence 
of their boys, before they try the newest 
method for packing an unwilling brain with 
information ? 

And here I cannot but speak of a matter 


that has moved me. There Is a project now- 
carrying out to exhibit what is called edu- 
cation in what is called an English Education 
Exhibition. Either the name is misused, or 
it is implied that education is a visible process 
analogous to the visible processes by which 
one material thing is converted Into another 
material thing, wool into cloth, rags or fibre 
into paper, hides into leather, or — to offer a 
sort of opening for argument — food-stuffs Into 
bone and flesh. To my mind, I say It In 
reverence, such an exhibition is as Impossible 
as an exhibition of the gospel. Nevertheless, 
the universities of Oxford and Cambridge 
have given their adhesion to the project, and 
not a few of the great public schools. The 
one essential thing is ignored, the accidents 
are exalted. With Busby's ashes resting a 
few feet from this pulpit, and with Arnold com- 
memorated in another place In this church, I 
venture to affirm that to imagine that any such 
scheme is calculated to advance education is to 
misunderstand the spirit of Christ as much as 
the eleven misunderstood it when they said, 


" Lord, here are two swords," and in irony 
Jesus answered, '' It is enough." 

The improving of mechanical methods, 
and the perfecting of details in management 
and organisation that there be as few ob- 
stacles as possible to the march of the spirit, 
are necessary things, which at one time were 
neglected no less than more excellent things 
in English schools ; but the danger now is 
that being easier, and needing only time 
and money, method or organisation may be 
pursued as an end, whereas it is only an 
instrument conducing to the end. So little 
are such mechanical methods effective in 
themselves, that in any school, if they are to 
aid the spirit, they must be created by the 
spirit, so much so that what works well in 
one school may work ill in another. As no 
two faces are exactly alike, no two minds, no 
two characters, so no two schools can be alike. 
They have different antecedents, and are 
different : and if men try to impose uniformity 
of method upon all, they will to that extent 
impede education, and diminish the sole unify- 


ing force, the one spirit which can transmit 
itself through the most diverse systems and 
make their effects one. 

Whatever business or profession these 
sons who now go forth from this home may 
adopt, they will find therein, if indeed they 
have been educated, not merely instructed here, 
a field for un-Pharisaic self-dissatisfaction, 
un-Pharisaic devotion to the ideal. If at any 
time they begin to think that they have cause 
to be well pleased with themselves, to be 
satisfied with what they know, to flatter 
themselves with their good deeds, their visit- 
ing of the sick, their clothing of the naked, 
with the completeness and certainty of their 
creed, the punctiliousness of their religious 
observances, the frequency of their bodily 
presence in church, their willingness to seek 
the spirit when other men are content with 
the letter, their grasp of truth, their power of 
will, in one word, their superiority to other 
men — then they have either never had, or 
they have lost, the one element In human 
conduct which is distinctively Christian — an 


undlvulged discontent with themselves, an 
unconfessed self-despair, an uncommunicated 
sense of failure, a reticent self-indictment, an 
unrevealed self-abasement, a secret acknow- 
ledgement of sin, a prayer for mercy when the 
door is shut to, when in faltering obedience 
to the bidding of their master they say to God 
who seeth in secret, "We are unprofitable 
servants : we have done that which was our 
duty to do." 



Barnabas exhorted them all thai with purpose of heart they 
would cleave unto the Lord. — Acts xi 23. 

Many men are apt to let day follow day in 
an uncertain and shiftless sequence. Any 
absorbing purpose shaping the lives of others 
seems to them something superhuman, and 
their own love of ease and self-Indulgence are 
therefore hardly rebuked thereby. Never- 
theless, all are attracted by any Instance of 
momentous ends achieved through tenacity of 
purpose. They look on and envy ; some- 
times they try to copy; and if they copy, 
then they also In their turn set a-goIng the 
everlasting spiritual force of controlled and 
controlling will. The force Itself they may 
not be competent to measure, but they feel 


and know that it alters them for the better, 
and that virtue goes forth therefrom towards 
others also. 

Who does not know the helpless per- 
plexity that comes up over the mind like a 
mist when an unfamiliar subject is tackled ? 
It is an inextricable tangle of disordered 
details ; but when the thoughts have for a 
time been bent upon It, order arises gradually 
out of the chaos, and the isolated facts begin 
to group themselves along lines of first prin- 
ciples, easy to grasp and to remember. In 
much the same way life seems first of all to 
be a veritable tumult of contradicting impulses, 
opposing wills, drifting habits, flung at each 
other In disorder. In one sense It is as it 
seems ; nobody can hope to reconcile the 
sundry conflicting forces ; nevertheless, it is in 
the power of anyone who desires to be a 
profitable servant of God and of man to drive 
at least through his own life straight and 
well-marked lines along which his thoughts 
and actions shall travel. These lines are 
simple spiritual principles designated by 


common names — truth, love, faith, hope, and 
the like. But before he can drive these lines 
through life, a man must school his will. He 
must be stedfast In effort, tenacious, resolved. 
Stedfastness In purpose Is sometimes said 
to be the outgrowth of character, and so In 
some degree It Is ; but It Is also undoubtedly 
creative of character. Nobody can go on for 
long controlling by the spirit of Christ Im- 
agination, thought, and action In order to 
serve some definite purpose without by the 
same process enriching and purifying the 
source from which this controlling power 
springs. Will begets will. After each exer- 
tion of self-control a man becomes better able 
to exert it again. The opposite Is of course 
true also. Weakness and uncertainty of 
purpose Is a disease which eats the will away 
and produces a decay In character. Every 
surrender of a purpose prepares the way for 
worse surrenders, till in the end even the 
capacity for making resolves at all Is lost. A 
man gets Into the way of taking the turn that 
for the moment seems easiest. He begins to 


follow at all times the line of least resistance. 
He is content to drift. 

To train the intelligence, say the men of 
this generation, is indispensable ; but they 
often forget that to put the will to school 
is somewhat more profitable. He who rules 
his will can compel his intelligence to serve 
him. What does thought profit if it has no 
precise work set it by the will ? A weak 
will can make plenty of thinking unprofitable 
or pernicious. The thinking of men who 
have no force of will is as unsubstantial as 
moonshine. The moonshine may bewitch, 
but it shows things neither as they are nor as 
they should be ; whereas will and purpose 
are like strong, searching, vitalising sunlight, 
conferring reality and the sense of power. 

He is a poor creature, weak himself and 
infecting others with infirmity, who has no 
definite purpose of one kind or another. 
Even a humble purpose is better than none 
at all. An aim of any sort goes for much. 
An aimless life arouses suspicion. Things 
cannot be quite right with me, if my familiar 


friend cannot discover whether I have an aim 
in Hfe or no. None can be entirely without 
interests or pursuits, and those in whom 
nothing of the kind is apparent lay themselves 
open to the suspicion that they have Interests 
so little to their credit that they prefer to 
keep them hid. 

Very different it is with him who has 
learned the secret of purpose of heart. Till 
he learned it he may have had a certain 
willingness to do what men expected from 
him, but there were no leaps or bounds, no 
impetuous, irresistible rush forward. It was 
a jog-trot and no race. For such Is the 
difference which purpose of heart makes. It 
quickens all the powers. It is manhood. 

Nature is the raw material from which 
each should make the best and richest stuff 
he can. This must be his prime aim and 
purpose. But it is an aim too abstract and 
ideal to be clearly apprehended and followed 
from the first. It is realised only by degrees. 
At all events I conceive that such is the 
course by which, if they look back, most men 


who have endeavoured to use life well, will 
see that they have travelled. They first by 
chance, or the good guidance of the Word, 
discover a purpose more or less humble, then 
as they chase It, the prospect widens until 
they come out upon rising ground from which 
there is a view backwards over the country 
already traversed, and forwards also towards 
a fertile land growing many things that at 
their setting out they would have thought It 
presumptuous to covet. They may, or they 
may not, have made good the paltry aim 
which they have pursued, but they have 
certainly found the way whereby alone the 
true end of life Is reached — the steep and 
narrow track climbing the mount of God. 

Such are the steps by which character 
widens, broadens, and deepens. Let the zest 
and charm conferred upon life by purpose of 
heart be once revealed, and the man Is willing 
to sacrifice anything, even life itself, rather 
than surrender them. He is engrossed in 
his chase and burns with enthusiasm, and 
surmounts obstacles that once would have 


checked or intimidated him. This is no race 
to exhaust the powers, but rather to nerve 
and exhilarate, every step forward augmenting 
alacrity, not lassitude ; force, not weariness. 

He learns judgment and discretion too in 
this journey. He may have begun by doing 
a great deal too much, going straight up hill 
and down dale right for his aim. By-and-bye 
he learns to mend his rate of progress by 
skirting a hill, by going round a crag, even by 
travelling back many stages in order to take 
a new turning. Knowledge and wisdom and 
self-distrust carry him forward more quickly 
than his old hurry and confident impetuosity. 

At the root of all true schooling of the 
will, you know and I know, lies the informing 
Spirit that proceeds from God and from 
Christ. If the heart be open to receive this 
Spirit, then it is as if the soil were prepared 
for the plant purpose to grow in. Character 
ripens, manhood increases, life is expounded. 
The man will not go back into the mire of 
jealousy and self-will and indolence and self- 
indulgence and other things that cling and soil, 


for he has breathed the clear, invigorating^ 
nimble air of the delectable mountains. He 
is alive when before he was dead. The 
creeds do not puzzle him. He is not con- 
cerned with the plan of salvation, the economy 
of grace, or any other catchword of the schools. 
The everlasting controversies of theology are 
debated afresh, and the church he loves takes 
to old fashions or invents new, but he takes 
no heed. These are things outside the soul's 
life, apart from his aim, **to cleave unto the 
Lord with purpose of heart." 


Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest. — Luke i 'j^). 

The word prophet Is no longer used in the 
sense which it commonly bears in the trans- 
lation of the Bible. There it seldom means 
a foreteller of the future. It is employed 
rather of one who so speaks forth or out 
another's mind as to interpret his purpose 
and thoughts. A good deal therefore of the 
Bible is ill understood or wholly misunder- 
stood if the words prophet, prophesy, and 
prophecy are taken in the narrow sense in 
which alone they are now used, and not in 
their older larger meaning. 

God did not reveal ordinary historical 
events to the Jews any more than he now 
reveals them to Englishmen. Revelation is 
a thing purely spiritual. Hence the scores 
of errors, and inaccuracies, and downright 


contradictions between one writer and an- 
other in respect to matters of ordinary history- 
narrated in the Bible are inevitable there as 
in every other history, and need not surprise 
anyone who has once grasped firmly the dis- 
tinction between the two kinds of truth, that 
which the Spirit of God alone can make 
known, and that which men may record if 
they like for themselves. 

But if in the Bible there is no prediction 
of common things ; if the sundry writers are 
left to themselves in their presentment of 
what befalls to men and nations in time, 
there is undoubtedly a revelation by the 
Spirit of God of momentous facts — the 
coming of a Saviour and the existence of a 
kingdom of God — which man could never 
discover or record for himself These are 
spiritual truths for which time does not 
count ; they are not incidents to be classed 
as present, past, or future in any historical 
sequence. They differ altogether from 
battles, sieges, victories, and defeats. Of 
the prediction of such things there was no 



more in Palestine than there may be in 
Europe now. The mission of the prophets 
was not to foretell disasters or triumphs^ 
though these they sometimes were competent 
to foresee, as they may still be foreseen by 
sagacious observers of the drift of history. 
Rather it resembled the mission of the last of 
the prophets, John the Baptist himself. They 
went before the face of the Lord to prepare 
his way, their thoughts ever directed to things 
above rather than to things before. There 
can be no prophet of the Highest whose eye 
is not always turned towards something still 
unrealised — so far the vulgar conception of 
his office is true, — but it is merely an accident 
if that something is fulfilled in the future. 
His function is to interpret God's will. He 
carries men's thoughts up to God ; he does 
not bring the secrets of the future into the 
present. He cries : This is God's purpose, 
but not : God reverses the law of man's 
creation as a creature in time, and by me 
draws the veil from the future. He is the 
mouthpiece of God to men because he seeks 


inspiration from God, and thereby can give 
men glimpses of the love of God, the mercy 
of God, the justice of God, the power of God. 
These all are things spiritual and eternal 
and infinite, to which from their very nature 
the ideas of past, present, and future cannot 
attach. To understand these, and teach men 
these, is to be a prophet of the Highest, a 
very different thing from a prophet of the 
future, or a recorder of the present or the past 
in the shifting scene of passing time, the rise 
or the fall of empires, the founding or the 
overthrow of dynasties, the progress or the 
decay of civilisations, *'all the kingdoms of 
the world and the glory of them." 

The one kind of prophecy is not worth 
attempting, but may be left to fortune-tellers 
and the like impostors; whereas to seek to 
be a prophet of the Highest is after all 
nothing less than to try to be a child of God 
and a citizen of his kingdom. When a man 
is in love with ideals, and would make them 
loved by others, he is in that measure a 
prophet of the Highest, "the voice of one 


crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way 
of the Lord, make straight in the desert a 
highway for our God." The voice is his who 
putting himself in God's hand, and seeking to 
be his prophet, gives life and strength and 
faculties to enlarge the kingdom of heaven. 

How is a man to live that God may 
through his life reveal himself to others ? 

First, no doubt, he must grasp the idea of 
God as at once supreme over man, and de- 
pendent upon man for the advancement of 
his purpose among men. This is the burden 
of the prophets — the thought of infinite 
spiritual power controlling the universe by 
unaltered purpose certain to be fulfilled, 
nevertheless advanced or retarded by man. 
At any time the bulk of mankind may be 
unconscious of this purpose or careless for its 
fulfilment, and so far as they are so, may fail 
to forward God's decree. But there is also 
at any time a minority or remnant to whom 
God's purpose is a reality, perhaps the only 
reality in life, who see that there can be but 
one issue to God's purpose, and that for the 


acceleration of that issue they may make 
themselves God's instruments. 

The man who by God's help converts this 
conception into a daily force and familiar 
influence is become a prophet of the Highest; 
as indeed is also he who at times is enabled 
to direct his life thereby. 

All who try to become prophets are often 
down-hearted, I daresay, at the small measure 
of their success. It often seems as though 
the world, indifferent to ideals, perverse, deaf 
to the Word, must laugh at the remnant and 
their endeavours ; and the remnant is tempted 
to give up prophesying and to join the 
majority. Yet those who on the whole cling 
to the Word are to that extent prophets of 

Anything that lends significance and eleva- 
tion to life should be welcomed ; and this 
thought does that. It can sustain men when 
their worst instincts and passions threaten 
to overwhelm the spirit altogether. It can 
harden them to maintain the seemingly des- 
perate fight of knowledge with ignorance. It 


gives heart and hope even when things go 

In a week or two a whole school-generation 
will go forth from this place. All of these, I 
may hope, will side with the remnant; but 
there is a risk that some will side with the 
majority. Nevertheless, why should not all 
accept the call to be prophets of the Highest? 
If the thought is once become familiar, it will 
not be readily discarded or easily remain 
unfruitful. Let it run like a guiding thread 
through the maze of life. 

If you go to college, it will save you from 
what is one of the worst temptations there, 
the temptation to think that learning stops 
with the measure of knowledge attainable by 
a man of twenty-five, and that any means, how- 
ever mechanical and unintelligent, is sound, 
if by it that measure can be filled up the more 
easily. To regard life in that way is to betray 
the remnant. No man can be a prophet 
whose life is untrue to conscience. It will 
surely be one of the rewards, not the most 
precious indeed, but still precious, vouchsafed 


to the remnant in the end — that they will 
understand what they had not understood ; 
that their reason will move unimpeded and 
unconfined over all that now baffles and 
torments the intelligence. 

I do not know how it is that the old 
attitude in respect of education at school and 
college begins to give way. It used to be 
thought that the studies there were merely 
the gateway to knowledge, not knowledge 
itself. You can help to bring the right view 
back. On you who go to college I urge this 
above all : Do not lose faith in the possibility 
of discovering more and more truth. If 
learning and investigation have no other 
function, they have at least this, that they are 
the nursery of ideas, when ideas are the food 
by which man grows. If all men learned the 
same things, and these only up to the con- 
temptible limit represented by university 
examinations, the mind of the race would 
starve. Let us rather endeavour in this 
sense as in others to become the interpreters 
of God to men. Every true thought launched 


by US upon the world, every new aspect of 
an old truth made familiar, is a revelation of 
God made by God himself through us, his 

As in the lower field of intellect, so in the 
moral and the spiritual field we may take the 
same road. We must let God speak to us, if 
we would have him speak through us. He 
speaks in a thousand ways. If we do not 
hear, it is because we are not simple enough. 
We ask, perhaps, how that can be a message 
from the Source of all Knowledge and power 
which claims nothing save what a child gives 
best, unreasoning trust, ill based faith. It 
does not square with our pride that we should 
in this be no better than the young and the 
simple. Or we ask again, how the Spirit of 
God can dwell in the hearts of men, when in 
the heart we know best his influence seems 
so feeble and slow. But has not the Word 
himself declared that the leaven of the king- 
dom of heaven ferments slowly ? The spirit 
of Christ is there, if the heart cherishes ideals 
and is eager to fight for them. 


Given these two things, the faith of a 
child and the grown man's resblve to fight on 
against the temptation to betray the holy 
spirit of the Highest, a man Is Indeed a 
prophet. God speaks to others through him. 
He has the true prophet's Ideal of a kingdom 
of God. He feels the compulsion to prepare 
the way of the Lord. 

He will suffer, and suffer greatly. ** Who- 
soever will come after me, let him deny 
himself and take up his cross." But of the 
soul's possessions, past suffering Is one of the 
most precious. The better part of what Is 
called character Is made by suffering : and If 
anyone has not character, that Is, the strength 
derived from contention with passions and 
sins, he can have no commission from God to 
other men. There will be nothing about him 
to inspire or purify other men. 

Nevertheless, he will influence other men. 
Even weakness has its influence. Infirmity of 
character is as great a curse to others as to the 
infirm of character himself Moreover, there 
are prophets of the devil as there are prophets 


of the Highest, the actively wicked and the 

Nothing has ever produced in me so keen 
a sense of failure as the hearing that some 
one once well known here has flagrantly 
taken the wrong side. The apprehension 
springs up and will not be choked back that 
perhaps his error is the fault of his upbringing. 
For a school, as I have often sought to show 
from this place, ought to be a nursery in 
which the plant of character is grown under 
favouring conditions to such vigour and fulness 
of life that it can safely be transplanted into 
the field of the world. If in the transplanting 
it is dwarfed, or grows awry, men may blame 
its rearing, thereby disparaging the soil of 
the nursery, which, unlike common soil, is 
more enriched by the plants themselves than 
by the gardener's labour. In a school each 
sundry life contributes something to the char- 
acter of all, and is itself reacted upon by all in 
its turn ; so that those who from time to time 
go forth from Westminster have inevitably 
the school's good name in their keeping. 


Nor should the condition of the school be 
held right or wholesome by its lovers, so long 
as anyone at all can say that his character 
was not strengthened by his life at West- 
minster : And many will justly decry the 
fame of their school if the common life to 
which they look back was not penetrated by 
spiritual ideals like that which has occupied 
us this morning, whereby the purpose of God 
is recognised as something which men both 
singly and together help to fulfil. 



Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing 
be lost. — John vi 12. 

Rich and delicate dyes are produced from 
the greasy, noisome waste of gas-works, 
stuff once held to be dirt and refuse. The 
mounds of slag that have accumulated for 
years near iron-furnaces are now converted 
into useful things. Such strange reversals 
are sometimes recorded in the history of 
scientific discoveries. What Is thrown away 
one day may be eagerly sought after the 
next. Nevertheless, the generations ought 
each to bequeath to its successors by the 
saving of waste a far richer inheritance than 


is now bequeathed by any. As It is, the 
fragments are ill gathered and much is lost. 
Man's ignorance and carelessness and per- 
versity are not to be measured, and in his 
race to be rich he contemns the slow processes 
of nature that wastes nothing, and cares not 
how much he destroys, provided his own 
purse fill. Perhaps there never was a time 
in which the gifts of the Creator were more 
recklessly wasted than they are wasted now. 
The mark of this century has been waste, the 
squandering of treasures amassed by nature 
in millions of years. Whole continents have 
been devastated, denuded of their forests, 
despoiled of their fertility, exhausted of their 
subterranean wealth. It Is but a stage, 
perhaps, which must be passed through in 
travelling towards better things, but it is 
certain nevertheless that many remote genera- 
tions will curse this age for taking much and 
giving little back, for violating nature, for 
defying the decree of Creation. Yet even 
those who curse are not likely themselves to 
have learned In their day all the will of the 


Creator, nor is it possible to imagine a time 
when every secret of nature shall be known, 
and men shall use without waste everything 
which God has made. 

The passage from which my text is taken 
describes an act similar to an act of creation, 
and records that he who performed that act 
was careful to forbid the waste of any frag- 
ment of that which was made. He made 
enough and to spare, yet nothing must be 
lost. Waste, it is implied, is irreligion. 

In the feeding of the five thousand, as in 
the feeding of the four thousand, an essential 
part of the eternal process of creation was 
accelerated. He who executed God's will in 
the creation of the world, and continually 
executes it in the multiplying of every crea- 
ture, executed it here also in the multiplying 
of the bread. It is this which gives extra- 
ordinary impressiveness to the words of the 
text. God creates for man's use, but not 
that man may waste. The command to 
gather up the fragments is, in the mouth of 
Jesus, the plain expression of the Creators 


will, a veritable commandment uttered by the 
Word himself: Thou shalt not waste. 

Even if this were the only passage in the 
Bible which taught this lesson, it would in 
itself determine how God would have men 
deal with that portion of creation which at 
any time he commits to them. It declares 
that as often as anyone wastes either his time 
or his powers, or food, or clothes, or anything 
whatsoever, he acts as though God must 
provide him with more than he can use ; 
whereas the case is just the contrary. All 
that God gives, he gives that it should be 
wisely husbanded. It is a capital to trade 
with, not a treasure to squander. 

This is a doctrine not easy to put in 
practice; yet it is essential. No other con- 
ception of man's duty can be reconciled with 
the saying : Gather up the fragments that 
nothing be lost. The command is not to be 
explained away. It contains nothing less than 
what I have said. It interprets the divine 
theory of human life. It furnishes another 
ideal for men to strive after, or at leasts not 


wholly to forget. For It is, as I have said, 
one of the spoken words of the Word him- 
self, as the miracle which gave occasion for it 
is a word In another kind ; and his words 
spoken or expressed in act are the first and 
only source for which you or I can draw any 
spiritual inspiration worth the having. It is 
from them that we learn what the kingdom 
of God Is ; that it grows up from within and 
cannot be imposed from without j that the 
spirit of Christ is a force and not a law. 

For this reason each must find out for 
himself how to Interpret the text in matters 
of everyday conduct, and to answer the ques- 
tion : What is waste ? The Jewish rabbis 
would have drawn up a code of rules to 
regulate conduct in such a case. No Chris- 
tian can do that. He will nowhere find any 
* cut and dried system of life whereby he shall 
enter the kingdom of heaven. There is no 
legislation in the gospels, but there Is plenty 
of a better thing — suggestlveness. 

There is this suggestlveness in the bid- 
ding : Gather up the fragments that remain 


that nothing be lost. It helps men to deter- 
mine when they should spend and when they 
should refrain from spending, when lavishness 
is in place and when careful husbanding. 

Every man, body, mind, and soul, is 
himself God's creature. His time is God's, 
everything that he possesses is God's. He 
cannot live without either using or wasting 
some creature of God. There is not, nor has 
there ever been, anyone at all who has not 
lived a great part of his life awry in this 
respect ; not one but has either forgotten 
again and again to gather up the fragments 
of his capacity, of his time, of his opportunities, 
or has squandered them altogether. How 
much bodily strength, how many gifts of 
mind or spirit has everyone failed to use ! 
All have misused money ; all have wasted 
food and drink ; all have often behaved as 
though they were free to do as they liked 
with God's gifts. Who but has need to recall 
that the Son of God possessed of power to 
create, taught as the Son of man in unmis- 
takeable language that his fellow-men have no 


right to waste the most insignificant fragment 
of created things ? 

Moreover, if it is an obligation never to 
waste what God has bestowed for a man's 
own use, it is certainly as binding an obliga- 
tion to refrain from wasting the bodies, or 
minds, or labour, or money, or belongings of 
others. This obligation also is constantly 
violated. It seems as though to most men 
the real motive for saving what is their own 
were not that it is God's gift, but that it is 
their own. What an incalculable sum of 
God's gifts is wasted, spoiled, lost, any day of 
the seven in an opulent country like England, 
because men are too careless, or thoughtless, 
or selfish to husband what has been acquired 
by the labour or riches of others ! For it is 
the case that the more easily a thing is got, 
the more likely it is to be wasted. Lightly 
come lightly goes. Was not this one reason 
why Jesus told the disciples to gather up the 
fragments ? The Syrian crowd then, like an 
English crowd to-day, would otherwise never 
once have thought of the waste. They 


would have satisfied themselves with the 
gift, then, as I often see some of you doing, 
they would have thrown aside or even spoiled 
what they could not use. Men are so apt 
to take every blessing as their due, and to 
see no harm in wasting that which they do 
not care to use themselves. Indeed, they 
incline even to measure their importance by 
what they can afford to waste : and this 
attitude is encouraged, or at any rate con- 
doned in many parts of English society at 
the present day, so much so, that it requires 
no common measure of the conviction that 
waste is irreligion for a man even in his own 
household to contend against wastefulness. 
The husbandry of God's gifts is so rare a 
thing that even when nothing is grudged the 
preventing merely of waste is designated by 
ill names. Yet wastefulness is just as much a 
sin as generosity is a virtue. *' Gather up 
the fragments that remain that nothing be 
lost" are words of the Son of God. The 
deeper this truth penetrates into the con- 
science, and the more it pervades the conduct, 


the more opportunities there must be of 
imitating God's work of love in creation. 
There will arise thereby the means for being 
generous, and for creating out of superfluity 
new methods of serving God. 



He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city .... 

without walls. — PROVERBS XXV 28. 

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace^ his goods are 
in peace. — LUKE xi 21. 

Every soul has an enemy, persistently ag- 
gressive, either avowedly in open attack, or 
treacherously by secret sapping and mining. 
It may even happen that this enemy finds no 
obstacles and suffers no opposition ; that he 
has merely to take possession. A soul may 
lie at his mercy, as in old days an unwalled 
town might be occupied by anyone who 

To have no rule over one's own spirit, 
Solomon says, is to be open to every sugges- 
tion of sin — anger, hate, malice, envy, pride, 
gluttony, carnal curiosity ; every sundry devil 


In Satan's force. The unguarded heart is 
theirs. They possess It; they devastate It; 
they destroy It ; and they show Its ruins to 
their master as their completed work, jesting 
withal at the simplicity of their victim and 
the facility of their conquest. 

Judging by the form of this proverb, I 
have no doubt that he who made it, conceived 
of the human heart as In continual danger of 
demoniacal possession, or of attack from the 
enemy of man. Be this as It may, there Is 
no room for doubt that in respect to the 
words of Jesus, " When a strong man armed 
keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace " — 
the enemies against whom the palace must be 
kept are emissaries of Satan himself, devils, 
demons, unclean spirits. 

It Is now usual to Ignore this conception, 
or to esteem Its presence In the gospel as a 
concession to popular Ideas. On the other 
hand. It Is undeniable that the weight of 
evidence Is in favour of Its truth. The con- 
ception is not only accepted but enforced by 
Jesus Christ. So completely may a man's 


soul be occupied by Satan that the man 
himself may be addressed as Satan — " He 
rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, 
Satan : " or may be spoken of as Satan's 
son — " Ye are of your father the devil." 
All the good in men may be devoured by 
Satan, and nothing left but refuse — " Simon, 
Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee and 
the eleven, that he may sift you as wheat." 
When the Word sows good seed in the 
world-field, the devil sows tares, or even 
catches away the seed ere it can take root. 
No less does Jesus Christ recognise the 
operation in men's hearts of Satanic agents ; 
demons they are called, devils, or evil spirits 
— *' If I cast out devils by the spirit of God, 
then the kingdom of God is come unto you": 
**And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he de- 
parted out of him " : " The devil is gone out 
of thy daughter " : " Thou dumb and deaf 
devil, I charge thee come out of him, and 
enter no more into him " : *' He stood over 
her, and rebuked the fever " : " Ought not 
this woman, whom Satan hath bound these 


eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on 
the Sabbath day ? " 

As certainly as there is a personal God, 
whose angels are eternally occupied in asslst- 
ting and comforting men, so there is a per- 
sonal devil, the enemy of man, whose emis- 
saries are perseveringly active in assailing 
not only the spirits but the bodies of men, 
and spreading disease and corruption through- 
out their whole nature. There is nothing 
incomprehensible here ; rather human life 
becomes incomprehensible, and the light of 
the world obscure, for him who will not 
acknowledge the reality of a conflict between 
the powers of light and of darkness. Can 
these utterances of the Word be figures only 
that must be explained away ? The whole 
passage from which our New Testament text 
is taken is emptied of meaning, if there be no 
personal Satan, no personal demons, whose 
business it is to suggest sin and to harden 
the heart against virtue. If you rid you, 
Jesus says, of an unclean spirit, you must at 
once put into his place a strong man armed 


to keep the heart against him ; that Is, you 
must put there the spirit of Christ. Other- 
wise the unclean spirit again enters and brings 
worse spirits with him. 

I beHeve I know what this means, and 
all who hear me know. If the kingdom of 
heaven can be within a man, may not the 
kingdom of hell be there ? If the spirit of 
Christ can be within the heart, may not the 
spirit of Satan be there ? 

I should be well content if I could, and if 
all here could, realise vigorously this teaching 
that the soul must be occupied, possessed, 
and controlled either by good or by evil 
powers. It cannot be empty. If it be pos- 
sessed by Satan and his army, the man is 
unclean, passionate, deceitful, proud, malicious, 
selfish, lazy, gluttonous : if by Christ and his 
legions, he is pure in heart, righteous, meek, 
honest, merciful, charitable, strenuous, self- 
controlled. He is strong and armed who 
derives his security from Christ and wears 
the armour of God. 

But for the most part, or rather always, 


the city of the heart Is neither wholly walled, 
nor wholly open to aggression ; the man who 
keeps his palace is neither unarmed, nor yet 
to be rightly called a strong man armed. 
There is fighting in the streets and lanes of 
the city, or in the courts and chambers of the 
palace. At all events, that is my own ex- 
perience, and no doubt is yours also. 

Now, If it be the case that the heart can- 
not but be the scene of a conflict between 
the powers of good and the powers of evil, 
between angels and demons, is it the case also 
that each man must fight alone ? or may he 
draw upon other hearts for reinforcements 
for the one side or the other ? It is certain 
that he may find succour from his neighbours. 
A man's spirit may be helped not only by 
Christ, but by other hearts too in the building 
of its walls, in the seating on its throne of the 
strong man armed. Otherwise there would 
be no virtue in the common life of school, and 
I should but waste time In speaking from this 
place; and you in hearing. It is true that 
such a common life may reinforce the demons 


no less than it reinforces the angels. There 
have been times at Westminster, as there 
have been times at every public school, when 
the common spirit instead of aiding the single 
soul to fortify itself against sin has actually 
hindered it, and when the strong man armed 
has had to resist Satan's crew in isolation 
without sympathetic fellowship. I know 
schools now in which the common spirit is 
on the side of the demons, where pureness of 
heart must be strongly fortified, if it is to be 
retained at all. For all I can tell there may 
be elements in the common spirit operative 
here now which tend rather to reinforce the 
devil in his siege of single hearts — you can 
say more certainly than I can — but I hope 
that on the whole the sympathies of the 
school are with him who seeks the help of 
Christ's spirit to build his walls, and would 
fain seat in the palace of his heart a strong 
man armed. That at least must be the ideal 
for all schools that are to be of any spiritual 
service to those who attend them. Devoid 
of this ideal, a school is merely a collection of 


class-rooms in which the knowledge of certain 
facts or fancies in language, in literature, or 
in the sciences is more or less effectually con- 
veyed. It is a place of instruction, not a 
place of education. I should be sorry to say 
a word which could tempt any boy to conceive 
that knowledge of facts and of principles is 
not a priceless treasure. It is a treasure 
which only the foolish and the thoughtless 
and the indolent do not seek. But better 
than knowledge is the motive from which 
knowledge is sought. It is the presence of 
this motive which transforms a school from a 
place of instruction into a place of education. 
The knowledge of facts and of principles that 
boys can acquire is almost worthless compared 
with the precious things they may make their 
own by means of the ideals which lead them 
on to acquire knowledge. I have known 
many who, without any considerable gifts or 
aptitudes, have nevertheless at school equip- 
ped themselves well for the spiritual struggles 
of manhood by acquiring, in the only way in 
which it can be acquired, the power to con- 


quer the devil and his legions. The boy who 
■does that not only rules his own spirit ; he 
helps others to rule theirs. By expelling from 
his own palace the demon of indolence he has 
strengthened and armed others against the 
same enemy. I have known many who have 
conquered worse demons than indolence, 
ousting them from their own palace, rein- 
forcing others against them ; making, for 
example, pureness of heart, or self-denial, or 
truthfulness, more easy of attainment for 
everybody here. 

Something like this, I take it, is education, 
•a word on many lips, and therefore difficult 
of apprehension — an arming of the spirit, a 
reinforcement of nature, a fencing of the man 
as with walls. No school which follows after 
this can fail in attaining to the love of know- 
ledge, forasmuch as the whole includes the 



The Lord hath, sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of 
the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the 
people of the Jews. — Acts xii ii. 

It was Herod's purpose to keep Peter in 
prison for a time and then to sacrifice him to 
the Jews, and the Jews in turn counted 
securely upon Peters execution. Both had 
reason for believing that he could not escape 
their vengeance. Nevertheless, they were 
disappointed. Their expectation was not 
fulfilled. They had formed it without reckon- 
ing upon God's intervention. It may well 
be that the prisoner himself did not think his 
case so desperate. Peter had seen too many 
example^ of supernatural interference in the 
affairs of men to imagine that any expectation 
either of good or of ill could be other than 


precarious. The belief that God, not man, 
shapes and controls events must have grown 
into a powerful and abiding force in the 
minds of all who had gone in and out with 
Jesus, had seen their hopes once wholly 
extinguished by his death, and again rekindled 
and assured by his resurrection. Their whole 
attitude towards the circumstances and inci-, 
dents of life cannot but have been modified 
thereby. If the other disciples had this con- 
viction, Peter must have held It more intensely. 
Not only did he belong to the group of three 
whom Jesus adopted into the most Intimate 
fellowship with himself, but of the three he 
would appear to have been the principal. 
He had been present when Jairus' daughter 
awoke, when the widow's son was restored to 
her, when Lazarus was recalled. Jesus had 
once reached out his hand and saved him 
when he began to sink in the sea. Men do 
not forget such things ; and Peter guarded 
closely in prison cannot have forgotten that 
he had been in a worse plight before, and 
had been rescued by Jesus himself. 


Everybody has his hopes and expecta- 
tions. There are some here to-day who 
cherish the definite expectation that in a 
month's time their career at school will be 
crowned with some substantial kind of suc- 
cess. I wonder if they cherish this expecta- 
tion in the spirit of Herod and of the Jews 
as a thing in which God has no hand, a thing 
on which they can confidently count ; or in 
the Christian spirit as something which God 
controls, and may even entirely frustrate. It 
is not that God intervenes now in the manner 
in which he intervened between Peter and 
the Jews ; but he does intervene as directly 
and really, though the manner be changed. 
Gates do not open or bars fall ; there is 
nothing that might be called miraculous in 
the way In which expectations are fulfilled, 
or modified, or destroyed. Nevertheless, 
God still disappoints or alters them or fulfils 
them. There was once a rich man who 
made quite sure of riches and happiness ; 
but God said, *' Thou fool, this night thy 
soul shall be required of thee ; then whose 


shall those things be which thou hast 
provided ? " 

In God's sight a man is a fool who makes 
certain of anything. The thread of expecta- 
tion is thin, and easily snaps. The imitator 
of Jesus Christ tries to entrust himself and 
all his expectations to God's discretion. The 
sting is then withdrawn from disappointment. 
Failure does not surprise or sour. The man 
who acknowledges that God's will has an 
influence upon the things which happen to 
him takes any changes, any disappointments, 
any successes, as part of a train of events 
which must have a good result somewhere 
and somehow. He takes his life as it comes 
for a creating and schooling of character. 
When he forms plans and entertains hopes, 
he does not conceal from himself that from 
their very nature these plans and hopes are 
ill secured. They are not of the same real 
and solid substance as the rock on which his 
spiritual life is founded. If they be swept 
away, he may let them go, and be none the 
worse for the loss ; rather, may be even the 



better, because he has learned one lesson of 
wisdom the more. 

The wisdom of sitting loose to expecta- 
tion, and of seeing the finger of God in 
failure as in success, is a good deal more 
difficult to put in practice than to acknow- 
ledge with the reason. It can be acquired 
in only one way, by the letting the spirit of 
God mould and school the will to accept 
what comes as the gift of God ; taking it 
with resignation and even with cheerfulness 
if it be what men call evil, and with humility 
and mistrust when it is what men call good. 

Not to learn a little of this wisdom is a 
man's own fault. Who cannot recall some 
disappointment which he can now see was a 
blessing, or some success which became, or 
almost became, an irresistible temptation ? 
The character is all the richer for such 
experience ; the will is all the stronger. 

If this has happened, if the mind is not 
so desperately set upon realising ambitions 
or expectations precisely as they are first 
framed, if the reason acknowledges that the 


shock of failure may be of more value than 
any complete success, then the heart may 
well have begun to submit to the spirit of 

God does intervene in the lives of men. 
Jesus Christ claimed for the Father this 
authority when he bade men pray, " Thy 
will be done on earth as it is in heaven." 
The Son of God lived here as the Son of 
man in order that men, by his example, might 
be taught to detach themselves from earthly 
hopes and earthly ambitions, and might accept 
God's will as their supreme good. Christ is 
for man not only a brother but a master, the 
Lord Christ ; God is for man not only a 
Father but a king. Man is a subject who 
should have one will with his master and 
with his king; but he is also a son who 
may accept his Father s authority in a spirit 
of love and confidence, knowing that the 
brother, who is his master, has done the 

These things are uncommonly difficult to 
put in words that the mind can grip and 


keep. It is thought to be a preacher's 
business to say them, and a hearer's part to 
bear with him. They have been often said, 
often heard, often forgotten already. They 
are the cry and burden of the prophets. 
They are nearly as old as the hills. As the 
generations pass, each hears them afresh, and 
a remnant in each gives heed when the Word 
says that failure and disappointment, suffering 
and tears, endured without repining for right- 
teousness' sake, are the means whereby a 
man's spirit is made strong and tranquil, and 
is prepared for God's service and united with 
Christ and made worthy of God's glory. I 
do not find that Jesus ever pronounced a 
beatitude upon worldly success of any kind ; 
but he pronounces many upon things that the 
world connects only with failure and dis- 
appointment. Nevertheless, it is certain that 
the blessing is not promised to failure and 
suffering in themselves, but only as they 
are borne for Christ's sake. The man who 
lets the world know his heart's secrets, his 
tribulations, agonies, despairs, conflicts, dis- 


appointments, failures, is not blessed but 
contemptible. He can only be blessed, if he 
never tells. No one, Jesus says again and 
again, has any right to hear the soul's crying 
but the Father who seeth in secret ; for no 
other can give spiritual help and comfort. 

In thy most mortal combats with the 
unclean spirit of self-love or the devil of 
despair, yet wear a cheerful face, that thou 
appear not unto men to fight at all, content 
that thy master knows thy weakness, and 
will reinforce thee before thou fail. 



// must needs be that offences come : but woe to that man by 
whom the offence cometh. — Matthew xviii 7. 

It is said by Scaliger, who was perhaps the 
most sagacious Interpreter of antiquity, that 
if men could only recover the proverbial lore 
and the various turns of speech and habits of 
thought common In Syria in the time of Jesus, 
they would find some of the hard sayings of 
Jesus to be as simple as they doubtless ap- 
peared to the simple folk who heard them 
first. This, I conceive, is such a saying, or 
rather part of such a saying, and I shall try 
and restore to it some of its simplicity and 

There is an oriental fashion of speaking 
concerning the way in which men act or suffer 
that is so unfamiliar to western races that 
even the Bible, whereby so many oriental 


ideas have been introduced into Europe, has 
not made this conception, or the phrases that 
express it, familiar in any real sense to the 
ordinary European. It is true indeed that 
the Jewish phrases are in their English 
sounds well known to the ear — transgression 
and trespasses, to walk in the law of the 
Lord, the way of righteousness, the path of 
God's commandments, to be out of the way, 
and the like— but who is not conscious, when 
he hears, or perhaps himself employs, these 
expressions that they convey less intimate 
meaning to him than would be conveyed by 
genuine English phrases ? The metaphor 
is not an English metaphor at all. It is 
borrowed from an alien race, and expresses 
an alien form of thought. To this group of 
oriental phrases the words offend and 
offence belong. A man travelling on a 
road finds some obstruction, or his foot 
strikes a stone so that he stumbles, or is 
even so much hurt that he cannot proceed 
for a time, or perhaps may never walk 
sturdily again. The bar across the road, 


the obstacle of any kind which stops or 
maims the traveller is an ofifence, a stum- 
bling-block, a rock of offence, a fall. 

In the gospel for this day Jesus says to 
his disciples, that even when men have been 
converted, that is, have turned about and 
taken the right road instead of the wrong, 
there are nevertheless many obstacles to be 
surmounted, many a stone to stumble against, 
many a spot of slippery ground. These bars, 
and stops, and sundry impediments may be 
placed, he says, in the way by others ; or 
they may even be in some measure of the 
travellers' own seeking. For the travellers 
on this road are men's souls, and the bars, 
and stops, and impediments are just as likely 
to arise from the bodies in which the travel- 
ling souls dwell as from other souls or other 
bodies. The enemy of men s souls is active 
and enterprising. 

Jesus does not in this place mention Satan 
by name, but he does mention the realm of 
Satan as the ultimate source of all these 
obstructions to the progress of the soul. 


"A curse rests upon the world (i.e., upon the 
kingdom of Satan) by reason of the Impedi- 
ments placed thereby in the soul's path. Such 
impediments are inevitable in this age, but 
alas for the man who is responsible for this 
impediment or for that. The curse may even 
fall on thee thyself: the bar to thy soul's 
journey may be placed athwart thy path by 
thine own body, thine hand or thy foot or 
thine eye, by any member of them all. Bring 
forward on this journey any humble, child- 
like soul, and thou servest me ; but if instead 
thou be tempted to put impediments in that 
soul's way, better first destroy thine own 
natural life than bar another's access unto 
God. As for thyself, be it limb of thine own 
body which obstructs thy soul's progress, 
rather deprive that limb of its proper office 
than let it by perversion of that office drag 
thy soul into Satan's power for ever." 

Such is Jesus' answer to his disciples' 
question, ** Who is the greatest in the king- 
dom of heaven ? " St. Matthew does not 
record what St. Mark records, that a little 


before they put the question they had dis- 
puted which of them should receive from 
their master the highest position in the king- 
dom of heaven. Jesus took a child, and 
placing him among them, answered their 
question thus, saying that they could not 
enter the kingdom of heaven at all unless 
they were first rid of the spirit which had 
prompted such a debate, and were become as 
humble and simple as the child whom he had 
placed with them as more worthy of the 
kingdom of heaven than they. Their quarrel 
proved that they did not belong to the king- 
dom of heaven, but to the world or kingdom 
of Satan, and that instead of helping one 
another to travel on the right road, they 
hindered one another. The kingdoms of the 
world and the glory of them, which they 
thought to import into the kingdom of God, 
were in Satan's gift and not in Christ's. The 
woes of Christ rested upon them. Christ's 
blessing was to be obtained only by such as 
could so reverse the world's judgment as to 
see true greatness in humility or self-depre- 


ciation, and true dignity in service or self- 
denial. The angels thought not of primacy 
or preeminence, but only how to obey God 
and serve such souls of men as were humble 
enough to seek God's help, and accept the 
angels' succour, and resolute enough to sur- 
render even God's gifts of body, if they found 
that these gave advantage to Satan, and pro- 
vided impediments to their spiritual progress ; 
nay, to sacrifice even bodily life itself rather 
than place obstacles in the path of any soul. 

It is impossible to dwell upon this saying 
of Jesus without shame and self-contempt. 
Nobody but must be aware that he is often 
proud, often stands upon his dignity, often 
takes the world's view, the satanic view, of 
greatness, arguing that to do things which 
would be of spiritual service to others cannot 
consist with his self-respect. Who does not 
know of things done every day, or of ideas 
prevailing here in school, that are on any 
interpretation contrary to this judgment of 
Jesus Christ, and nevertheless are defended 
and cherished by some who in many ways 


try to put in practice Christian ideals ? Yet 
no disciple can say that the teaching of the 
Master is not perfectly plain and direct. 
Anyone can imagine himself standing there 
with Peter, James, and John, and the rest, 
and seeing the little child set among them, 
and hearing Jesus say, as the child stood 
abasht with these grown men still excited by 
their quarrel, " Before a man can be the 
greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he must 
think as little of worldly rank and greatness 
as this little child. He will so far partake In 
my spirit and be mine." Then follows the 
warning that none shall unpunished put 
obstructions in the way of such child-like 
souls, or let his flesh put obstructions in his 
own soul's way. If thus child-like It would 
become. It Is as though Jesus had said to 
each : "In taking part in this controversy, 
suggested by Satan himself, how can you tell 
that you have not put an impediment in the 
way of some other of my disciples, as you 
have certainly let the lower side of your own 
nature impede the higher ? " 


I mean to leave this exposition of to-day's 
gospel without particularising how its teach- 
ing ought to affect the attitude and conduct 
of us masters and you boys at school. Every- 
body can make sure for himself whether he 
tries or does not try to let this gospel direct 
his conduct. It contains, as I have said 
already, plain teaching, direct teaching, and 
withal teaching that is at first unwelcome and 
even repellent to most men. It can only 
become acceptable and fruitful when a man 
really endeavours to attain to some share in 
the spirit of Christ. Like all Christ's teach- 
ing it is better unglossed. It may be the 
case, it often is the case, that the words of 
Jesus spoken immediately to Syrians in the 
Syrian language have to be rendered into the 
speech of another people in another age ; but 
apart from this they need no gloss, and are 
best let enter the soul as the Word spoke 



Watch thou in all thi?tgs. — 2 Timothy iv 5. 

This is almost certainly one of the many 
allusions In the Epistles to sayings of Jesus, 
whether recorded or not In the Gospels. The 
word translated ' watch ' Is vri^e, ' be sober,' 
and rendering It as they do, the translators no 
doubt correctly suggest a reminiscence of the 
parable In which Is contrasted the conduct of 
two servants set by their master over other 
servants. The one Is represented as faithful 
to his trust, doing his masters bidding 
vigilantly, the other as betraying his charge, 
saying to himself, My master Is long In 
coming back, and beginning to maltreat the 
other servants, and as spending his time In 
idleness and drinking. If further evidence 
be needed that this view is just, namely, that 


in writing this part of this letter to Timothy, 
Paul had the parable in mind, such evidence 
is found in two other forms of phrase here 
used. The one is, Make full proof of thy 
ministry, or better. Make good thy service ; 
the other is, And not to me only, but unto all 
them that love his appearing. These taken 
together with the, Be sober, make up the 
whole framework of the parable. 

Paul has watched for his Master's return 
and knows that now he must soon come to 
commend and to reward him, just as In the 
parable the faithful, vigilant servant was com- 
mended and rewarded. He bids Timothy 
take example by him, and by sober, watchful 
service earn the like reward and praise when 
the Master appears to him In his turn. He 
must give the other servants their meat in 
due season, or In other words, do the work of 
an evangelist. He must live for others and 
not for himself He must not spend his days 
like the ill servant, as though he had no duties 
to the others, but had been given his place 
for his own gratification. He must display a 


self-denying and loyal vigilance and be always 
ready for his Master's coming. 

St. Paul, like the other Christians of that 
time, had at first misunderstood what Jesus 
had meant by the Coming of the Son of man. 
He had imagined that Jesus Christ was to 
return to earth within a few years from his 
resurrection in order to judge the whole world 
at once. It was only by degrees that he came 
to see that the final coming of Christ to judge 
all mankind is of no great concern to the 
individual disciple. The death of each man 
is the Coming, the appearing, the return of 
the Master. In this passage St. Paul has 
attained to the true interpretation of the 
parable in which Jesus had conveyed to men 
the dignity and impressiveness of the two 
chief gifts of God to man, the gift of life and 
the gift of death. Perhaps the richness of 
both has never been more finely suggested. 

I should be uncommonly sorry, I can tell 
you, ever to say anything to anybody, more 
particularly, if he were young, calculated to 
frighten him about death. I do not believe 


any one was ever made a Christian by fright. 

Fright has nothing to do with faith. Fright 

has very different motives. When our Lord 

in the parable describes the judgment upon 

the ill servant, he simply states what must be 

the consequence of misusing life. He does 

not even hint that faith can be created by the 

terror of judgment. It is the man who says 

that he has faith and accepts the Master's 

work, promising to do it but soon betraying 

his trust, that is appointed his portion with 

the untrue, where there is weeping and 

gnashing of teeth. Jesus could not conceal 

the truth that for each the character of his 

destiny at death is determined by the character 

of his life before death ; but the one point 

which concerns you and me now is, that if a 

man believes what Jesus Christ says, then 

he believes that when he dies Jesus Christ 

does appear to him and judge him. 

In speaking of vigilance I speak of course 

only to those who profess faith, and therefore 

profess also to be servants of Jesus Christ. 

Vigilance, as St. Paul here clearly implies, 



involves fighting and suffering and perse- 
vefance, but is at the same time made easier 
by the example of others. 

First, a man must fight himself, the 
grosser side of himself, which loves food and 
drink and the perverse gratification of all the 
bodily senses. If he makes much of these 
things they soon choke his faith. He begins 
to say, Why watch day after day, hour after 
hour, for a master who may not come for 
many long years ? Time enough to prepare 
to answer the door when I hear his step 
approaching. That is not vigilant service. 

Next a man must fight the world, that is, 
the bad example set him by other men who 
are either hypocritical servants or not servants 
at all. These give their opinion of life fine 
names, worldly wisdom, common sense, know- 
ledge of life, and the like, and even the best 
servants are often misled into the same way 
of reading and glosing human duty and 
responsibility. Everybody knows how diffi- 
cult it sometimes is to contend against so 
natural and so alluring a view of his relations 


with Other men as is presented by the phrase 
worldly wisdom. Things are said and done 
before me, of which, if I were alone, I should 
feel ashamed, yet in company for good fellow- 
ship I condone them or take part in them. 
That is not vigilant service. 

Nor can the watchful servant get through 
even one day of his life without rubs and 
troubles, and perhaps hard usage. There is 
no fighting without sweat and hardship and 
the risk of wounds. St. Paul has a good 
name for the scars o-ot in this cause. He 
calls them the marks of Christ Jesus, signs 
that he is a servant whom Jesus Christ has 
made his own by fair purchase. He who 
has no such scars cannot be a vigilant 

Further, the good servant does not get 
weary of serving. His vigilance is main- 
tained, however long his master may delay 
his coming. Indeed, it should become all 
the easier by practice — and I think every- 
one who has tried it will say that it does 
become easier. Partly it is made easier also 


by the example of others. Nevertheless, the 
ideal of good service ought always to be 
enlarging, and to make fresh demands upon 
the good servant's vigilance. That which 
satisfied him once ought no longer to satisfy 
him. Having discovered something of the 
peace and tranquil patience with which God 
rewards the honest, simple, unassuming, will- 
ing attempt to put faith in practice, he is 
stimulated to fight better, to take hard knocks 
with more endurance, to persevere more reso- 
lutely in vigilance, to seek more eagerly in- 
spiration from other servants of the same 
master. That in effect is what Paul here 
encourages Timothy to do. Waiting tran- 
quilly for Jesus Christ to appear, conscious 
that he will welcome his appearing, Paul 
turns his own career into a spur and a force 
to push Timothy forward on the road which 
he has himself travelled almost to its end. 
'' I have fought," he says, " with honour, I 
have run the race out and fainted not " (this 
by the way is St. Paul's favourite figure for 
doing the work of an evangelist, or — shall I 


say ? — for giving his fellow servants their 
meat In due season), " I have kept my faith 
unstained, and I wait quietly for the Lord 
and for the sense of perfect sinlessness which 
my Master will assign me as the wage of 
faithful, vigilant service." " May thou, my 
son, be encouraged by my example and by 
my reward to fight against thyself and against 
the world, to endure hard usage, to labour for 
others, to make good thy service of Jesus 
Christ, like the faithful steward who waited 
so truly and vigilantly for the master's voice." 
One word before I have done to such as 
may never have tried to be the Master's 
servants at all. I need do nothing more than 
ask them to recollect who It was who drew 
this picture of the vigilant servant. The man 
who wrote In this way of the Ideal life for 
man was the Saul who did all he could to 
crush the faith at its first beginning. If he 
could in the end make so sure that he had 
himself realised this ideal, why should not 
you or I be able some day to speak In like 
tones ? In saying this I do not say that we 


are any better to begin with than St. Paul. I 
only say that there is some reason for hope- 
fulness. I may not have consented to a 
martyr s death, but I may have done what is 
for me as bad a thing — I may have helped to 
make a martyr. If I have not tried to crush 
the faith I have done much to weaken it, and 
little to increase it. Nevertheless, it is in my 
power, it is much more in your power, yet to 
secure by means of some space of vigilant 
service the right to say with St. Paul, " I 
have fought with honour, I have made good 
the trust reposed in me." 



These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might 
have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : 
but be of good cheer j I have overcome the world. — 
John xvi 33. 

On the first Christmas the call of the angels 
announcing to the shepherds the birth of 
Jesus was ** Peace, goodwill towards men " ; 
and at the end of his days on earth, when his 
works and his teaching appeared to the world 
to be fruitless and nigh extinction, Jesus 
himself declares that he has indeed secured 
peace for the heart of man. "In the world 
ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good 
cheer ; I have overcome the world.'' Never- 
theless, during his life he repeatedly affirmed 
that this message of peace was at the same 
time a challenge to war. '' Think not that I 
am come to send peace on earth. I came 


not to send peace, but a sword." ** Suppose 
ye that I am come to give peace on earth ? 
I tell you, Nay, but rather division." " I am 
come to kindle fire on the earth, and what 
will I if it be already kindled ? " 

Both things are true. The laws of men's 
logic are suspended when Christ speaks. 
There' is, and must be, this downright con- 
tradiction in the mode of estimating spiritual 
facts so long as men are left upon the earth 
for devils to pervert and torment, or for the 
spirit of God to save. The way in which a 
man regards and names certain things depends 
entirely upon his general attitude towards 
these two forces, the subtleties of Satan and 
the strength of God. There can be no truce 
between these natural enemies. " If I by 
the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt 
the kingdom of God is come upon you." 
" From henceforth there shall be five in one 
house divided, three against two and two 
against three." " Two men shall be in the 
field ; the one shall be taken and the other 
left." "He that Is not with me is against 


me, and he that gathereth not with me, 
scattereth abroad." " How can one enter 
into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, 
except he first bind the strong man ? and 
then he will spoil his goods." 

The meaning of all this is that the gospel 
announced by Jesus Christ has furnished a 
new measure for things. It has made pos- 
sible for anybody and everybody an entire 
revolution in his natural ideas and common 
estimates. It glorifies human weakness and 
poverty and humbleness, because it explains 
how such things may be transmuted more 
easily than their opposites into power with 
God. It demonstrates that from a spiritual 
standpoint the poet's guess is true, that death 
may be life, and life death. In a word, it 
turns men's notions upside down, and reverses 
men's verdicts ; and among other like things 
it declares a state of spiritual battle to be not 
only compatible with perfect spiritual peace 
but even to be essential to its existence. 
Take up any one of the gospels and read 
it through at a sitting ; it will leave upon the 


mind in a strong and vivid impression the 
consistency of a life of hardship and suffering 
with the most serene spiritual tranquillity. 
It will prove indeed that life is a field of 
battle, but it will furnish at the same time an 
armament so strong and reliable that there 
can be no cause for doubting the issue of the 
combat. The Captain is at once a messenger 
of peace and the declarer of war. In his life 
among men he held out in the one hand 
peace, and with the other he wielded every 
weapon of indignation and scorn and irony 
against the cruel spiritual host of pride and 
self-will and hypocrisy. Imitating Jesus, 
copying the spirit of Christ, men must be at 
once men of peace and good fighters. In 
spiritual conflicts the peacemaker is a formid- 
able antagonist. The poor in spirit will never 
let the powers of the air domineer over him. 
The meek are very lions in fighting Abaddan. 
Travellers on the way of peace not only may, 
but must be armed, though never was armour 
called by such contradictious names. The 
corselet is the corselet of righteousness or 


way of tribulation may become the way of 
peace. The shadow that always rests upon 
the easy way, the shadow of death, all who 
make their footing good upon the way of 
suffering are quit of once for all. That in 
itself should make it reasonable to call this 
way the way of peace ; but there are good 
reasons besides. 

God is not only life, but God is love ; and 
his presence in the heart enriches all the 
relations of man with men. If the hope of 
eternal life must be present to everyone who 
partakes worthily of the Lord's table, the 
thought of love to others and of reconciliation 
with unfriends and forgiveness of injurers 
must be present too, charged with Christian 
fellowship and spiritual sympathy. *' If ye 
forgive not men their trespasses, neither will 
your Father forgive your trespasses." ** These 
things I command you, that ye love one 
another." "Thou shalt love thy neighbour 
as thyself" Without sympathy no man can 
have much tribulation, or much peace. With 
spiritual sympathy for others a man can be 


neither Pharisee nor fanatic ; but he may be, 
and to some extent must be, a sustainer of 
the cause of God, and therefore have some 
share in peace. 

We read the first three gospels through 
every year in Abbey. Some of us have 
listened to them, or at least heard them, for a 
good many years now. Some, perhaps, have 
never thought at all about this contradiction, 
though it is assumed on every page, that to 
lose life is to save it, that to undergo suffering 
is to find peace, that the hatred of the world 
is the love of God ; or, if they have some- 
times thought about it, they may never have 
tried to work it into their lives. They may 
even have armed themselves against it, and 
deliberately rejected it as the Pharisees, or 
deliberately ignored it, as did many of the 
publicans and the harlots when they heard it 
from the lips of Jesus. Nevertheless, the 
teaching of Jesus as to this inevitable contra- 
diction is the one essential thing, without which 
no education of the mind, no disciplining of 
temper, is of much consequence. The Phari- 


sees among us will continue to reject it; some 
of the publicans and harlots among us may- 
have already begun to take it to heart. But 
it cannot be from ignorance, if we go on 
thinking and speaking of the way of peace as 
the way of tribulation. We read the other 
day what Jesus said to such as deliberately 
refused to hear : " It shall be more tolerable 
for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment 
than for you," and to day we read his words 
addressed to those who had recognised this 
contradiction, and chosen his side rather than 
the world's — " These things have I spoken 
unto you that ye might have peace. In the 
world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of 
good cheer ; I have overcome the world." 



Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A 
good man out of the good treasure of the heart bi inoeth 
forth good things: and an evil man out .of the evil 
treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, 
That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall 
give account thereof in the day of judgment. — Matthew 
xii 34 ff. 

St. Paul In his letter to the church in Rome 
speaks of men who, possessing no direct reve- 
lation, had nevertheless by faithful obedience 
to the promptings of conscience and by the 
legitimate use of reason and of the gift of 
language attained to a controlling knowledge 
of God's will, ** their conscience attesting that 
they act rightly or wrongly, and the conclu- 
sions of reason arrived at by controversy 
either arraigning or absolving them." It is 
one step in a grave argument whereby he 
demonstrates that the bulk of the Jews, from 
misinterpreting the spirit and purpose of the 


law, and the bulk of the rest of mankind 
from ignoring the verdicts of conscience and 
of reason concerning the requirements of God, 
had merited the wrath of God and made 
necessary the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

It is clear from this passage that St. Paul 
understood, in as liberal and comprehensive a 
sense as has ever been claimed for them by 
philosophy, the significance to humanity of 
the three gifts which difference man from the 
other creatures of God — the gifts of con- 
science, reason, and speech. Together they 
make up a natural revelation, sufficient, in 
default at least of a better, to expound the 
way in which a man should use the greatest 
gift of all, the gift of life. In speaking as he 
does, St. Paul, it is plain, had principally in 
mind the lasting achievements of the Greek 
race In literature, in science, in philosophy. 
He recognised the reality of these achieve- 
ments, and their value to the world ; never- 
theless, at the same time the context leaves 
no doubt that he recognised also the hideously 

perverse use to which the Greeks had often 



put their singular endowments of reason and 
of speech. The good among them out of the 
good treasure of their heart had brought forth 
good things, and the evil out of their evil 
treasure had brought forth evil things. The 
best of their good has in literature never 
been surpassed hitherto, and may never be 
surpassed at all ; in philosophy and in 
science the richest and most far-reaching 
conclusions that have ever been attained by 
controversy must also be conceded to the 

It is impossible to say whether St. Paul 
anticipated that in literature, science, and 
philosophy, the triumph of reason would be 
augmented by the new revelation which he 
gave up his life to make known. It is 
certain, however, that they have not been so 
augmented. Why is it that in this respect 
the ages since Christ compare but ill with the 
ages before Christ, although men have been 
free to draw not only upon the experience 
and the examples of the ancients, but also 
upon the ideals of the gospel ? It is a. 


puzzling and intricate question, nor can I do 
more than hint at part of the answer. 

A great scholar living just at the time 
when the printing press reached considerable 
mechanical efficiency, and began to send out 
books by the score, has recorded that even 
within his own observation it had been detri- 
mental to learning, and to that order of know- 
ledge which cannot be acquired except by 
laborious thought and patient investigation. 
The printing press preserved the idle word and 
reproduced it for the perversion and corrup- 
tion of more men. There is of course truth 
in this contention. It is certain that the 
printing press has done something to de- 
teriorate reason, and even to degrade speech, 
the expression of reason. He who has 
within him an evil treasure, possesses in the 
printing press an engine for scattering broad- 
cast among men the evil things issuing 
therefrom. On the other hand, by the same 
means to the like degree, the area ought to 
be enlarged within which good things may 
become known and be enjoyed. The fault 


therefore lies with man himself, and not with 
man's invented instrument, the press, if he 
prefer the evil things to the good, or if from 
indolence he let the glosses of other men 
keep him from tackling for himself serious 
thoughts conveyed in plain-dealing language, 
or accept the conclusions of another man's 
reason rather than exert his own reason. I 
have once or twice had to look through all 
the books that have been published upon one 
subject during several centuries, and I have 
found very few in the whole number to con- 
tain aught save what has been borrowed from 
an earlier book. They are for the most part 
idle words. Their makers have been idle, 
unpossessed with love for truth, neglectful of 
the good treasure, if good treasure they have 
had. To this extent Scaliger is right, that 
the printing press does embarrass the searcher 
after truth, obscuring the important by the 
trivial, distracting the mind of the honest by 
the accumulations of the dishonest, tempting 
men to discard strenuous thought, and to 
speak before they know. 


This does not concern grown men only ; 
it concerns boys at school. When I talk 
with them of the books they read in form, 
great classics, those, or such as those, to 
which St. Paul refers as containing the con- 
clusions of reason, I discover often that they 
do not know the writer's name, but confound 
it with that of the person who has glossed a 
chapter or two for use in school. Even the 
title of the great book they sometimes do not 
know. 'Tis buried under the idle word, 
which projecting to help the mind diverts it 
from things essential. Busby had reason 
when he would have his boys read the plain 
Latin or Greek without glosses. If all had 
been of Busby's mind, the printing press 
might have worked less mischief; the brain 
of the race might have been more virile. If 
I see a boy always eager to find some sort of 
help rather than willing to tax his own brain 
to discover the meaning of what he reads, I 
do not expect him to say much that implies 
thoughtfulness when we talk together. There 
is risk that he will himself grow up to be a 


speaker of idle words, a reader of magazines 
and of evening newspapers and of novels, a 
repeater of the latest trick of speech, a believer 
in the last crazy poet, a stickler for the newest 
fashion in handshaking- or the latest cut of a 
coat. When I meet him after he has left 
school, I feel that he is a rebuke to West- 
minster. For these things are all, in one way 
or another, expressions of a man's character, 
idle words, evil things. It is inconceivable 
that they could do anybody any good. They 
are unrealities, and anyone who lives in them, 
or even makes much of them, is a speaker of 
idle words. 

Let us go further together, searching heart 
rather than head. There are idle words 
worse than these, such as St. Paul indicates 
on the same page as that in which he speaks 
of the Greek efforts to reinforce conscience by 
reason, downright evil things brought forth 
out of the evil abundance within. Instead of 
saying plain ' yes ' or plain ' no,' * it is so,' ' it 
is not the case,' or some other simple, straight- 
forward phrase of assent or denial, a man 


swears or protests in some foolish way, 
thereby weakening, not affirming, what he 
says. All these unnecessary enlargements 
show that he who uses them is aware that 
his simple word is not valuable. He distrusts 
his own honour. Jesus Christ's teaching in 
respect to this there can be no mistaking. 
Eliciting the spirit of the third commandment 
he declares, " Let your communication be, 
Yea, yea : Nay, nay : for whatsoever Is more 
than these cometh of the evil one." He 
would abolish even the solemn oath of the 
Old Testament, " As the Lord liveth, before 
whom I stand." No man who respects him- 
self, certainly no obedient copyer of Jesus 
Christ, will consent to confirm his ' yes ' or 
* no,' unless when the law, which knows him 
not, demands it. 

Let us go deeper still. There are Idle 
words more worthy of condemnation than the 
needlessly emphatic — those, namely, which 
do not only betray their speaker's disbelief in 
his own manhood and truth, but demonstrate 
his disbelief in another's manhood and good- 


ness. In this case too, as in all the rest, the 
idle word, the evil thing, may be written down, 
remember, as well as spoken. It is not my 
duty to rake up this ugly heap here, but it is 
my duty to bring the minds of any present 
who perhaps bring out such evil things from 
the evil store within them into the presence of 
Him, who shall be their judge, as he says to 
them here and now that every idle word that 
they may speak, they shall give account 
thereof in the day of judgment ; and to say 
also to those who may not themselves speak 
them, yet do not resent them when spoken in 
their presence. Speak out ; speak out, and 
rebuke them. They are the lie direct given 
to your own manhood. They would not be 
uttered before you if he who speaks them 
believed in your pureness of heart. The evil 
spirit that possesses the speaker of these evil 
things jeers at you, and hopes to possess you 
also. Nor is he far from success if you listen. 
Give him back as good as he gave, and 
defeat him. 

That which differences man from every 


Other living thing may bring man down lower 
than them all. Satan loves the best gifts, 
that he may twist them into deformity. If he 
be once permitted to work his will upon them, 
he makes of them his most revolting and 
destructive engines. Jesus has told men so, 
and Jesus Christ knows what is in men, and 
Jesus the Son of God, shall judge men's 
secrets in the day of judgment. 

Everybody is thinking now of war, and of 
his fellows who maintain his cause with the 
strength and majesty of hardy spirits in 
faltering bodies, and perhaps himself is eager 
to face death as their comrade ; but there is 
another field, on which to fight with strength 
and majesty requires more manhood. There 
the evil in a man's nature is embattled against 
the good. The fighting lasts not for an hour 
or for a day or for a year, but for a lifetime. 
Either side can call up reinforcements at any 
moment at its pleasure. Men are not so 
eager to take part in this conflict ; neverthe- 
less, all must share in it. He is on the side 
of evil who makes no choice between the 


sides. He may also be there by frank and 
open choice ; but no one here, I am sure, has 
taken that side deliberately. Yet many per- 
haps are on it, because they have not thought 
at all which side they must be on if there be 
manhood in them, and respect for goodness — 
the side on which good men fight against evil 
and its backers ; on which those fight who 
draw their reinforcements to make good the 
waste of war not from the doomed and 
reckless power of hell, but from the calm, 
unexhausted resources of heaven. 

There is a mark by which fighters in this 
war distinguish friends from enemies, the 
mark named in these words of Christ, the 
nature of the things which they bring forth 
from the treasure of their hearts, the mark of 
evil, the idle word, visibly worn by such as 
fight for the kingdom of Satan ; or the mark 
of good, the badge of truth and sincerity, dis- 
coverable upon those who know that their 
manhood shall be judged justly at the last. 



Blessed are the peacemakers. — Matthew v 9. 

What king, going to war against another king, sitteth not 
down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten 
thousand to meet him that cometh against him with 
twenty thousand? — LuKE xiv 31. 

There might be found in the Old Testament 
many sentences bearing more directly upon 
the subject of which I wish to speak than 
these two texts from the New ; but from the 
Old Testament it may well be that unchristian 
conclusions would have been drawn. So many 
accepted opinions and approved judgments 
were reversed by the authority of Jesus Christ 
that even the Old Testament is sometimes a 
blind guide in matters of conduct. 

War, at least on one side, is so brutal, 
inhuman, and devilish that he who would 
justify it in a church must indeed be careful 
to seek direction from the teaching of Jesus 


Christ. I believe that it is possible to show- 
that there are elements in that teaching from 
which It may be deduced that wars are not 
likely to cease so long as men continue to 
be born and beget children and die. Until 
Christ has finally triumphed over Satan, the 
sword shall always be, as the sword has 
always been, the last instrument of arbitra- 
ment between nations. 

It does not admit of doubt that Jesus 
never contemplates universal acceptance for 
his teaching. It would even be difficult to 
demonstrate that he ever looked for more 
than a certain number of disciples In any 
generation among any people ; or that he 
reckoned upon such increase In the number 
of his followers as should produce at any 
time overwhelming superiority for the king- 
dom of heaven over the despotism of hell. 
It Is instructive to observe how, In parable 
after parable, Jesus withholds any precise 
Indication of the numbers on the one hand 
of those who accept his spirit, on the other 
of those who reject it. Either no proportion 


is named at all, or the proportion differs 
greatly in different parables. Who shall tell 
how many worthless fish the draw-net takes 
with the good, how the tares stand to the 
wheat, how much of the sower's seed is lost, 
how much germinates and dies, how much 
springs up and yields increase ; or again, how 
many refuse the invitation to the supper, how 
many come from the hedges and highways ? 
Who shall say how many find the hid trea- 
sure or seek the pearl of price, how many 
will act as the publican or how many as the 
Pharisee, how many the sheep will be and 
how many the goats ? True, of the ten 
virgins five are wise and five are foolish, 
but in the parable of the talents the pro- 
portion is two to one, in that of the pounds 
it is nine to one, in another it is ninety-nine 
to one. Not only is there this persistent 
variation or persistent uncertainty, the men 
spoken of in these parables are such as have 
actually heard Christ's call. Nothing is im- 
plied concerning the millions who at any 
time have not heard the call at all. Further, 


when the larger number in the proportion 
refers, as it does in the parables that have 
been mentioned, invariably to the saved, it 
has still to be corrected by another plain 
saying : ** Many are called, but few chosen." 
It is the larger — who can doubt ?^n order 
that men may not despond too soon. The 
one thing on which Jesus Christ supremely 
insists is the need for his teaching to take 
root in the • single heart. The few chosen 
may become, nay, shall become, a vast army, 
but the recruits come in one by one. Nor 
can any recruit tell for certain who fight at 
his side. He cannot himself be quite sure 
what the king will say to him at last ; much 
less can he conjecture the judgment that 
others will receive. He can hope ; he can- 
not know. Hope, as St. Paul saw, is essential 
for him who fights in this war. The Christian 
does not realise here ; he only hopes ; and 
he who bids him fight is careful not to quench 
this hope. 

If I have rightly interpreted this side of 
Christ's teaching, the conclusion is inevitable, 


that in any body of men in the church, much 
more in the nation, there are always many 
who are not Christians, however deeply, how- 
ever widely Christian conceptions and moral 
ideals generated therefrom may influence and 
in some degree elevate the whole body, Chris- 
tian and unchristian, be it church, or nation, 
or aggregate of nations ; and if this is the 
case, then at any time a condition of things 
may arise so perverse and satanic that nothing 
but war, revolting and satanic as war itself in 
one aspect always is, can determine it. Jesus 
Christ certainly said : " Blessed are the peace- 
makers," but he also said : *' These be the 
days of vengeance ; there shall be great dis- 
tress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, 
and shall be led away captive into all nations/' 
And he said also: *' If thou hadst known, 
even thou, at least in this thy day, the things 
which belong unto thy peace ! but now they 
are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall 
come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast 
a trench about thee, and compass thee round, 


and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay 
thee even with the ground, and thy children 
within thee ; and they shall not leave in 
thee one stone upon another ; because thou 
knewest not the time of thy visitation." 
There could not be plainer evidence that 
war is the scourge with which God chastens 
men. Before war can become this scourge, 
men must levy war. Before a nation be thus 
chastened, another nation must act as God's 

Men have to reconcile, as they best can, 
these seemingly contradictory sayings of Jesus 
Christ ; and in this instance, the blessing upon 
the peacemaker and the recognition of war 
as an instrument of divine justice can, I 
believe, be reconciled in the way I have 
tried to show. The blessing upon the peace- 
maker is a blessing upon the individual and 
for the remnant that is Christian within any 
nation ; but It cannot and does not mean that 
the Christian, either singly or as one In a 
-community, shall not take part In the de- 
grading and the ennobling business of war. 


When Jesus Christ said, " They that take 
the sword shall perish with the sword," as 
Peter would have rashly defended him against 
the civsl power, he said but what any wise 
man would have said. He did not say that 
in all circumstances fighting is wrong. Had 
he meant that, the saying would have taken 
another form. As it stands, it can signify 
only this — that armed resistance to the will 
of the community must be visited by the 
community with death. Instead of furnish- 
ing an argument against the view that 1 
have tried to present, it is an argument in 
its favour. For man to take man's life is an 
appalling thing ; nevertheless, communities 
could not exist as associations of men ordered 
under law and by contract of each with all, 
and all with each, if they shrank from carry- 
ing justice to this conclusion in their common 
defence. It is a thing more awful still for a 
nation to bring all its resources together for 
the end of destroying — yet this is what war 
is — as many of their enemies as they can in 
the shortest time they can, with as little loss 



as they can to themselves ; nevertheless, it is 
inevitable, and its inevitableness is contem- 
plated — the conclusion cannot be escaped — 
by Jesus Christ, who alone can estimate the 
resources of Satan. 

Even when thus defined in brutal sim- 
plicity, war notwithstanding has aspects which 
are not harrowing but consoling. Many of 
the men who have fallen in the last six weeks 
were perhaps never so unselfish and pure as 
on their last field, when the resolution to 
make good their manhood against fear, and 
vindicate the glories of their race, enriched, 
and perhaps even hallowed, their nature. 

" Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener, 
Mood the more, as our might lessens." 

When men talk, as some talk now, as if the 
number were unexampled of lives lost in the 
few combats and skirmishes that as yet have 
taken place in this war, they show that they 
do not understand what war is, or what war 
has always been. War involves a loss of life 
at which the heart and soul revolt in awe and 
horror ; but would not you or I deliberately 


give our life gladly, if need were, as these 
men have sacrificed theirs ? It matters not 
whether a man's life be long or short, but it 
matters much whether he use it well. If 
misused it last, he is then to be pitied when 
the worthless frame falls to pieces. 

There cannot be imagined any means 
whereby the ordinary man may do more for 
his race, and through advantaging his race 
advantage more the world, than the risking 
of life with hardy courage in the field of 
battle. The foundation on which the great- 
ness of England reposes, her self-respect, her 
fairness of temper, her freedom, her influence 
in the council of nations, has been laid solid 
and lasting by those who have bled and died 
in her wars. The very name of England is 
compounded of the triumphs, whether in 
defeat or in victory, of the men bred on her 
soil. Which therefore is the better lot, or 
the better befits a man — the dying in the fire- 
light, the familiar faces looking on, or solitary 
death, whether by sudden stop or even through 
lingering anguish, on the hill ? 

t8o the key of knowledge 

When a nation Is selfish and indolent and 
sensual, It is apt to cry aloud against war and 
the loss of life involved in war ; and that 
nation Is dead, and might as well be extinct. 
I read the other day a minute account of the 
so-called civilisation of the later western 
Roman empire, when the Romans would not 
fight and could not fight, preferring to make 
money, and surround themselves with com- 
forts, and read and write silly books, and 
discourse upon the glories of Rom.e : and 
meanwhile the martial races, whom these 
Romans termed barbarians, were closing in 
upon them, and preparing to take their place. 
I read also a history, written by one who 
proudly speaks of herself as born in the 
porphyry-chamber at Byzantium, concerning 
the wars, or rather the disasters, of the later 
eastern empire. Unintentionally she depicts 
a condition of things even more contemptible 
than Is portrayed In any account of the western 
empire. Theological contentions have dis- 
placed the stern controversy of war. There 
is visible a degrading religiosity, an abasing 


valuing of life as life, but no masculine for- 
tifying religion, and no manhood or national 

I do not know, but I believe, that in the 
future the course of history will proceed as in 
the past ; and if this be so, then the only 
means whereby civilisation, as men name it, 
may be prevented from ending in enervation 
and decay is the reconciling in the life at least 
of a remnant of the two Christian duties — 
the duty of peacemaking, to be realised for 
the single life by each sundry soul ; and the 
duty resting upon each, as one in the com- 
munity of the nation, of maintaining at any 
cost by war, and the suffering that war 
entails, that which he holds to be a righteous 



Kf are the light of the world.— MATTH-ENf v 14. 

If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light : 
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of 
darkness.^yiA-TTUE^ vi 22. 

There Is no way of revealing or Interpreting 
the spiritual world to men other than by 
removing words from their common signifi- 
cation to a spiritual meaning. Heaven has 
thus two senses, the sky seen by the natural 
eye, and the rest from evil and peace from 
sin descried and desired by the soul. All 
the elements one after the other are employed 
as terms to express, or rather to hint, to men 
something of the primal powers and forces of 
the spiritual world. At one time it is fire : 
** One mightier than I shall baptise you with 
the Holy Ghost and with fire." At another 
it is the wind : " The wind bloweth where it 
listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, 


but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither 
it goeth : so is every one that is born of the 
Spirit." At another it is water : ** If any man 
thirst, let him come unto me and drink." 

Of the words thus transformed to a new 
use none is commoner than light. It is con- 
stantly employed to express the effect of the 
spirit of God upon the mind of the man who 
welcomes it. He who does not believe in 
God's power to help him is said in one 
phrase or another to be in darkness : '' They 
will not be learned nor understand ; they 
walk in darkness": "Everyone that doeth 
evil hateth the light." On the other hand, a 
man is said to begin to see light when he 
begins to let the spirit of God influence his 
hard self. Above all, when the God Christ 
came as the man Jesus in order to make it 
more easy for man to suppress self and seek 
God, the fact is expressed by the same figure : 
" The men that sit in darkness see a great 
light " : ** The dayspring from on high hath 
visited us to give light to them that sit in 
darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to 


guide their feet into the way of peace." It is 
said of Christ: "In himwaslife,and the life was 
the Hght of men." Jesus Christ said of him- 
self : '* I am the light of the world." He said 
also of those who so believe in him as to 
reflect the light they borrow of him : '' You 
are the light of the world." He contrasted 
the two classes into which men fall, according 
as they absorb or do not absorb the spiritual 
light of which he is the source : ** The light 
of the body is the eye : if therefore thine eye 
be single, thy whole body shall be full of 
light ; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole 
body shall be full of darkness." 

In the account of the conversion of St. 
Paul, read a few minutes ago, the great light 
out of which came the voice, " Saul, Saul, 
why persecutest thou me ? " symbolises the 
spirit of Christ Jesus breaking in upon the 
great darkness of the man's soul, just as his 
restoration to sight from the physical blind- 
ness which ensued symbolises the change by 
which his spiritual eye became good instead 
of evil, healthy and sound instead of diseased 


and depraved. It is therefore easy to see 
why those who adapted the Roman liturgy 
for the use of the EngHsh church so altered 
the ancient collect for this day's service as to 
introduce into it this figure of light. In its 
old form the prayer in this part ran, '' Who 
through the preaching of the blessed apostle 
St. Paul hast taught the whole world " ; and 
this they changed, so that it now runs, " hast 
caused the light of the gospel to shine 
throughout the world." By so doing they 
brought the collect into harmony with the 
historical facts, to commemorate which this 
festival is observed. For St. Paul's conver- 
sion is indeed the sudden seeing of a great 
light, and the gradual change in the man's 
spiritual eye from disease to perfect sound- 

The sound of the words, " You are the 
light of the world," " The light of the body is 
the eye," is so familiar that it might seem too 
superfluous to speak upon this text at all ; 
but are the things which the words express 
really familiar to you or to me ? 


I can here only speak for myself, and I 
confess that they are not sufficiently familiar ; 
are certainly not so intimate with my mind 
that it takes them as a matter of course, when 
it has to determine which of two contradictory 
decisions should be made. The eye of the 
mind is too seldom single, too often evil. 
Nevertheless, I profess to believe in Jesus as 
the Christ, the Light of the world, and there- 
fore acknowledge that my spiritual blindness 
may be dispelled, if I so choose, by him. 
All here profess the same belief; many have 
publicly promised to carry it out in their lives ; 
many more will soon so promise. The pro- 
mise has been a lie for all those who are 
content with the sound of the words, and let 
the meaning shift for itself 

Have you ever looked out and seen the 
sun rise ? Have you ever stumbled along in 
the dark and then seen the dawn spring, and 
your path, and the hills, and the fields take 
the morning ? Anybody who has experienced 
that may understand what Jesus Christ means 
when he says, '' I am the Light of the world,'* 


may understand what he means when he says, 
** In so far as your life reflects my life, you 
are a light of the world," or again, "In so far 
as your spiritual eye absorbs light from me, 
your whole nature is full of light." Do we 
merit, you or I, to be called lights of other 
men ? Is our nature full of light and not of 
darkness ? I am sure you will not say so, 
nor can I. 

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ encourages the 
weak in faith, the backward in performance, 
if only they confess it and are sorry. He 
does not quench the smoking flax in any 
farthing candle light. It does give light after 
all, and that is something. 

It is this gentleness of Christ which ought 
to inspirit us to try harder. Anybody can 
better the example that he sets, and be him- 
self the more humble for so doing, the more 
wilHng himself to seek more illumination from 
the Light of the world. In trying to set a 
better example, to become indeed a lig-ht for 
other men to walk by, he learns how great is 
his own darkness. He begins to feel that his 


own eye is evil. A man must absorb light 
from Christ before he can Q^ive it out. More- 
over, in absorbing it, he must not distort it. 
The eye must be single, that is, take it in just 
as it is given out by the Light of the world. 
In one sense of course no seeker after the 
Light ever gives it out as pure as he takes it 
in. His spiritual eye is not wholly sound. 
Such failure, inseparable from man's nature, 
Christ forgives. He accepts it for what it 
would be, not for w^hat it is. What Christ 
accepts not as light is that which has passed 
through an eye so distorted by pride and 
self-sufficiency as to be robbed of all its power 
to purify and illumine. 

Indeed, the sense of dissatisfaction with 
himself is perhaps the only means by which 
a man can tell whether his spiritual eye is 
sound or no. If it is pure when it has passed 
through the eye, it must so reveal the impuri- 
ties of his soul that he cannot be other than 
dissatisfied and humbled. It must on the 
contrary have been distorted and even ex- 
tinguished in the passing in, if he has any 


confidence left In his own power to fight the 
powers of darkness. I might catalogue scores 
of sins and ask myself and you whether we 
were conscious of their presence in our hearts, 
yet come no nearer telling myself or you 
whether we draw spiritual light from its one 
source Christ, and give it out again to others. 
The test is not whether these sins have been 
committed or no, but whether they have been 
repented of, and have left us less confident in 
ourselves, more willing to turn to the love 
and the strength of God. It was a woman 
of the city, a sinner, of whom Jesus said to a 
self-righteous Pharisee, " Her sins which are 
many are forgiven." It was an adulteress to 
whom jesus said, '' Neither do I condemn 
thee ; go and sin no more." It was to a false 
accuser and a thief that he said, " This day is 
salvation come to thine house." It was to a 
robber and a murderer that he said, '' To-day 
thou shalt be with me in paradise " — and in 
-each case the sinner, the breaker of the sixth 
commandment, the seventh, the eighth, or the 
ninth had hut one merit, the certainty that he 


had no merit at all. He had suffered the 
Light of the world to break in upon his 
darkness and had then learned how great 
that darkness was. 

This is a simple test — worth more to a 
sinner for the direction of his life than any 
number of warnings against special sins from 
a fellow-sinner. If a man gets into the habit 
of applying this test to his acts, then he draws 
light continually from the source of light, and 
gives it out also to the world. For to apply 
this test at all he must live as it were in the 
daily presence of Jesus Christ as he is por- 
trayed in the gospels, and be ever turning to 
him and questioning him upon points of 
conduct little and great, ever seeking light 
from the Light of the world. 



Strong in spirit. — Luke ii 40. 

Strength of body everyone understands and 
can describe and define. He sees the weight 
lifted, the blow delivered, the leap made, the 
race run, and he compares what he sees with a 
like effort made by himself or by others, and he 
appraises it accordingly. Strength of mind is 
not quite so easy to apprehend or to measure ; 
nevertheless, if a man has himself anything 
of a mind, he may form at least some sort of 
conception of strength of mind. He observes 
how in reasoning some minds brush aside all 
that is irrelevant, and march straight at what 
Is essential ; how they depend alone upon 
themselves and upon the facts known, and 
rejecting tradition, hearsay of every kind, 
convention, authority, seek impartially truth 
and reality. 


If Strength of mind is not so easy to seize 
or estimate as strength of body, there is an- 
other sort of strength still more difficult to 
apprehend and measure, strength of will, 
strength of character. The stuff on which 
will works is complex, intractable, and in- 
scrutable. The instruments which it wields 
have often been forged by itself, and are not 
the endowment of nature. Accordingly its 
achievements are difficult to record and value ; 
yet recorded and valued they may be, at all 
events in some measure. 

But there is still another strength which 
is hardly to be discerned or judged at all by 
any man, and certainly is completely and 
intimately known and appreciated only by 
God — strength of spirit, that strength which 
some of you have professed to seek, and others 
now profess that they seek. 

The three kinds of strength first mentioned, 
strength of body, strength of mind, strength 
of will, are primarily endowments of nature. 
Men can do but a little towards acquiring 
them. Strength of body and strength of 


mind some can never acquire at all. A man 
may live healthily and by rule, yet never be 
other than a weakling. He may spend his 
days in training such faculties as he has got, 
and in the end keep, notwithstanding, a con- 
fused bram and a shiftless reason. Strength 
of will some do acquire when they had little 
of it to begin with, but if they do acquire it, 
'tis not by cultivating the little germs of it 
that they may possess, but by a simple 
exertion of the will easier to a child than to a 
grown man, whereby they accept the promise 
of God that he will give them strength. It 
is the creation of the other strength, strength 
of spirit, and therefore is in the last resort the 
gift of God. All the same, if a man, infirm 
of purpose and vacillating in will, deliberately 
implores his Creator to strengthen and con- 
firm his will, when he has not first in peni- 
tential abasement asked forgiveness for sin, 
and begged for a portion of God's spirit, that 
man will not be granted what he asks, any 
more than if he asked in the like temper for 
strength of muscle or vigour of brain. 



He must ask for more than strength of 
will, and ask in the right way. Strength of 
spirit includes strength of will as the greater 
encloses the less. More than that, the less 
can only be obtained by the obtaining of the 
greater, and by the same means, the confess- 
ing of utter helplessness, complete demerit. 
For how can Christ, how can God, dwell in 
a heart in which self is still strong ? And 
strength of spirit can only exist through the 
presence of Christ within a man, the presence 
of the Creator himself in the nature of his 

I spoke last saint's day of the necessity of 
removing language from its ordinary sense in 
order to express spiritual facts. The spiritual 
fact of which I speak now is like the rest in 
this respect. It is sometimes expressed in 
one way, sometimes in another, but always 
in terms which have been shifted from their 
ordinary signification. 

In order more clearly to pourtray the 
Christian conception of man's nature and of 
human life, I had better try to give the 


rudiments of the phraseology which is thus 
transformed from common to spiritual use. 
My human nature — my body, brain, and will 
— is spoken of as a house or as a tent. In 
this house or in this tent the real * I ' lives, 
and with him either God or the Devil must 
dwell. It is not possible for me to live by 
myself " When the unclean spirit is gone 
out of a man, he walketh through the wilder- 
ness seeking rest, and finding none he saith, 
I will return to my house whence I came out ; 
and when he is come, he findeth it empty, 
swept and garnished. Then goeth he and 
taketh with himself seven other spirits more 
wicked than himself; and they enter in, and 
dwell there : and the last state of that man 
is worse than the first." When God dwells 
in this house with me, it becomes a temple ; 
in this tent, it becomes a tabernacle. If God 
has dwelt in it till I die, it becomes a house 
from heaven. In the temple of this house 
God or Christ, the spirit of God, the spirit 
of Christ, is said to be, to dwell, to abide. 
** He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my 


blood dwelleth in me, and I in him." ** At 
that day ye shall know that I am in my 
Father, and ye in me, and I in you." '* Know 
ye not how that Jesus Christ is in you?" 
'* If a man love me, he will keep my words ; 
and my Father will love him, and we will 
come unto him, and make our abode with 
him." *' If ye abide in me, and my words 
abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will 
and it shall be done unto you." " The 
Spirit of truth dwelleth with you and shall 
be in you." '' The spirit of God dwelleth 
in you." ''Your body is the temple of the 
Holy Ghost." ** Ye are the temple of the 
living God." The house in which the spirit 
of God or Christ is, is spoken of as founded 
upon a rock ; that in which the spirit of God 
or Christ is not, is spoken of as built upon 
sand. To have Christ in me is to be 
strong. " I can do all through Christ who 
strengtheneth me." To have Christ in me 
is to have everlasting life. " And this is 
life eternal, that they might know thee 
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 


thou hast sent." " I am the life," Christ says. 
"He that beHeveth in me hath everlasting 

It is when I consent that in the house 
composed of my body, brain, and will, the 
spirit of Christ shall dwell along with me, it 
is then that I begin to know what strength 
of spirit is. *' He that belleveth on me, the 
works that I do shall he do also ; and greater 
works than these shall he do, because I go 
unto my Father." You or I can do greater 
works than Jesus did on earth, because he is 
no longer a man, but a spirit who can "dwell," 
"abide," "be in" you and me. Jesus Christ 
himself declares it. And to reflect is to admit 
its truth. Are there not as many malignant, 
unclean, ravening devils in the heart of any 
man as Jesus ever cast out of a single heart ? 
Yet by his spirit they may be overpowered, 
he says, even more completely than they 
were overpowered by him when his spirit 
was trammelled and confined by the body. 

Does this give an inkling of what strength 
of spirit means, the strength that comes to a 


man when he takes Christ into the house 
built of his body and brain and will ? — when 
he begins to be certain that the kingdom of 
heaven is within him, that a life has begun 
for him which is everlastingly permanent ? 
Moreover, to discover the chief lineaments 
of strength of spirit, there is no better way 
that I can think of than by imagining the 
heavenly perfection which will one day belong 
to those in whose earthly house Christ has 
dwelt when the body has at length ceased to 
exert its force, and the spirit of evil cannot 
try to enter into it any more. The disem- 
bodied spirit knows no passions. Therefore 
he who in the body has strength of spirit 
resists his passions, and, as St. Paul says, 
keeps his body under. The disembodied 
spirit cannot lie. Therefore the strong in 
spirit fights for the truth and hates hypoc- 
risy. The disembodied spirit does not know 
envy, pride, malice, hatred, uncharitableness. 
Therefore he who in this life is reinforced by 
the spirit of God is humble, and loves his 
neighbour as himself Indeed, if we think 


upon It, we have got to confess that this sort 
of perfection Is plainly what Jesus in his 
teaching requires from men even in this 
world when they are still in the body, and 
subject to all the temptations of the world, 
the flesh, and the devil. " Be ye perfect," he 
says, " even as your Father which Is in heaven 
is perfect." Such perfection Is strength of 
spirit, and neither you nor I can have it 
except the spirit of God ** dwells," " abides," 
'' Is in " us, unless we are each " the temple 
of God." 



Why dost thou judge thy brother? . . .for we shall alt 
stand before the judgment seat of Christ. — RoM. xiv lo. 

In the passage from which my text is taken 
St. Paul shows that indifference to things 
indifferent, that insistence upon things essen- 
tial, which makes him who was the least of 
the Apostles in opportunity the greatest of 
the Apostles in achievement. " It is not my 
concern," he argues, ** nor is it yours, what 
opinion a man may hold if he has once pro- 
fessed his faith in Jesus Christ and thrown 
in his lot with our brotherhood. By declaring 
himself the willing servant of Christ Jesus he 
has won freedom from all criticism so long as 
he proves his sincerity by recognising that 


Others have the same freedom as himself in 
being, like himself, declared servants of 
Christ. Whether he be weak in his faith or 
strong, if faith he professes to have, welcome 
him to your brotherhood without desiring to 
contest his opinions. These opinions not- 
withstanding, God has welcomed him already." 
Anyone who says he is a Christian, every 
Christian ought to think sincere. In other 
words, no Christian has any right in Christ 
to judge another. The one and the other 
may be separated widely in opinions, even in 
ecclesiastical and theological opinions, and 
yet both be followers of Christ, both enam- 
oured of the kingdom of God. The kingdom 
of God, St. Paul asserts, is not opinions, *' but 
is righteousness and peace and joy in the 
Holy Ghost" — things which none can measure 
but He who has them and He who imparts 
them — the same God who will judge men's 
secrets by Jesus Christ. 

That which I spoke of last saint's day — 
the dwelling of the spirit of Christ in the 
temple of a man's heart — was to St. Paul the 


one essential thing. He who could say with 
all the sincerity and force of his nature, 
** Jesus is the Lord," had begun to share In 
eternal life, and had received forgiveness for 
his sins, his faith In Christ having put him 
right with God. To express this thought 
St. Paul found a phrase already coined for 
him In the Greek translation of the Old 
Testament — '* The just shall live by his 
faith," and this phrase he loved to quote. 
For a man to say with sincere belief and 
trust, "Jesus Is the Lord," was, St. Paul saw, 
to confess that Jesus Christ In dying had 
delivered him from slavery to the law and 
slavery to the body, and in rising again had 
assured him eternal life. The Christ who 
had died and risen was now by the Holy 
Spirit within his heart, Imparting life and 

Accepting baptism the believer so verit- 
ably accepts the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for 
him on the cross that he may be said to be 
in baptism crucified with Jesus Christ ; so 
veritably intends to die to his old self that he 


may be said in baptism to be buried with 
Jesus ; so veritably desires spiritual life and 
seeks glory that he may be said in baptism 
to rise from the grave of Jesus with the 
glorified Christ. And then the glorified 
Christ becomes by his spirit the controlling 
power in the believer's nature, imparting life 
and the desire for the perfected spiritual 
peace and sense of achievement which St. 
Paul calls "the glory of the sons of God." 
Is it surprising if St. Paul, penetrated by 
the reality and the solemnity of these con- 
victions, would not believe that men who 
had sought baptism could be other than 
sincere ? Is it surprising that he would not 
admit the right of any member of the 
Christian brotherhood to doubt the sincerity 
of another ? The Lord himself had said, 
" Judge not, that you be not judged." The 
spirit of Christ within St. Paul compels him 
to reiterate the precept : ** Who are you to 
judge the servant of Christ ? To his own 
master he stands or he falls." It may be 
your own weakness of faith that tempts you 


to doubt him. We shall all stand, you as he, 
before the judgment seat of Christ, who alone 
can judge his servants. 

In the presence of realities so tremendous, 
or should I not rather say — in the presence 
of Truth Himself, mere opinions, mere con- 
ventional notions of right and wrong, the 
eating of one food rather than another, the 
observing of one day rather than another, are 
shown to be what they are — trivial, meaning- 
less things. In that presence there is only 
one real essential thing, sincerity of faith so 
intense that it absorbs and keeps that which 
it realises of the spirit of Christ. The sincere 
in faith are free from all conventional opinions, 
all trivial distinctions between day and day, 
food and no food. Spiritual life is not depend- 
ent upon observances so trifling. These 
things, St. Paul avers, are things indifferent 
to the strong in faith. They are not real, or 
they are real only to the unbelieving or to 
men so weak in faith that they have not 
grasped the spiritual significance of the life 
of Jesus, of the crucifixion and the death of 


Jesus Christ, of the resurrection of Christ and 
Its sequel, the gift of life to him who believes. 
He who has Indeed grasped these realities 
cannot borrow his attitude from the men 
around him. He Is possessed of a new 
nature, a new life. His will is so transformed 
that he can rise above the fog of men's con- 
ventions and sentiments, and see clearly what 
God's will is, the one good and admirable and 
perfect thing. 

Such at least is St. Paul's conception of 
the place which things indifferent ought to 
take in the Christian's life. The unrealities, 
the conventions, the opinions, the sentiments 
of men, varying from century to century, 
from generation to generation, from year to 
year, are of no consequence to the strong in 
faith. These, guided by the spirit of Christ, 
occupy themselves with things more per- 
manent and substantial. Nevertheless, the 
apostle has no sooner expressed this concep- 
tion than he sets about showing that it cannot 
be realised within the Christian brotherhood 
on earth, and hinting that It will not be realised 


till the glory of the sons of God is attained. 
The freedom of the strong in faith, absolute 
in theory, is circumscribed in practice. The 
brotherhood of Christians includes every 
degree of faith, and none, however strong in 
faith himself, can rid himself of the obligation 
to remove impediments to his brother s pro- 
gress in faith. There are circumstances in 
which the strong in faith are not justified in 
exercising their freedom in respect to things 
indifferent. If they are indeed Christ's, if 
the spirit of Christ is in them, they must act 
as Jesus acted in his life on earth, and sacri- 
fice this freedom for the good of others. All 
things are lawful to them, but all things are 
not expedient. They are bound to consider 
the effect upon others of everything that they 
do, and at the same time refrain in brotherly 
love from resenting the curtailment of their 
freedom in Christ. They have no reason or 
right to judge others for attaching value to 
things which a stronger faith must know to 
be trivial. 

This teaching, as it happens, is peculiarly 


useful for you and me at the present day. 
The English Church, that part of the Chris- 
tian brotherhood to which we belong, is 
disquieted by controversies about things in- 
different — ceremonies, vestments, symbolical 
acts, observance of days, partaking of food or 
refraining from food at certain times, and the 
like. The unreality, the unspirituality of all 
such things is seen at once by any one who 
will take St. Paul's point of view, and will ask 
himself, ** Are these things an essential part 
of that life which I draw from Christ, the 
marks of which are freedom and permanence?'* 
Everyone who has the faith to put that ques- 
tion honestly to himself will answer, No. At 
the same time he cannot stop there — that 
would be to judge his neighbour — but with 
St. Paul he must again ask himself, " Which 
will help my weak brother most, to argue 
with him about these indifferent, conventional, 
trivial points, which evidently mean much to 
him, or to fall in with them when he is by, 
though he knows perfectly well that in others* 
presence I should do otherwise ? " St. Pauls 


answer is perfectly clear — " Treat them as 
things indifferent, sacrifice your freedom for 
your brothers sake. To the weak become 
weak, that you may gain the weak ; become 
all things to all men that you may save 


A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. — Matthew v 14. 

Following hard upon the Beatitudes this 
saying derives its meaning from them. Merit 
my blessing, Jesus says, in these respects and 
you shall become as a city set upon an hill 
that cannot be hid. If you set no store by 
yourselves, but stand before God as beggars 
of his bounty ; if you mourn your sins and 
shortcomings ; if you endure the scorn and 
ill usage of the world ; if you hunger and 
thirst for reconciliation with God ; if you are 
merciful, -pure in heart, peacemakers; if you 
are ready to face persecution and reproach 
and slander for my sake and for favour with 
God, you become thereby to the traveller in 
this world as a sign to guide him up and on 
to the mount of God. Overcome for the 
sake of others, that is, for my sake, the in- 



cessant temptation to build the city of your 
life upon the plain. Even if each days 
labour is made the longer and the more 
exacting because you must climb the hill, yet 
the labour is not thrown away. It is repaid 
not in money, or honour from men, or rank^ 
or applause, things that do not last, but with 
treasure in heaven, with the souls of men. 

The plain at the foot of the hill is fertile 
and populous. It is easy to build there, and 
the house when built is more snug and 
pleasant. There are sheltered places and 
bosomed nooks in the lowland where winds 
of scorn and abuse and persecution never 
blow. A city may be made an earthly para- 
dise if it be placed deftly under the hilL 
The uplands are bleak and forbidding, stony 
places swept by cold winds. A city built 
there among the rocks is a comfortless place 
to live in. It meets the scorching sun and 
the remorseless storm. 

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ bids men build 
on the hill and forsake the level, and this for 
a reason which nobody can understand wha 


has not the spirit of Christ. Men should 
build on the hill not for their own comfort or 
pleasure, but that others may see their city 
and be tempted to climb the hill, and perhaps 
may end in building a lodge there for them- 
selves. The discomfort and the hardship of 
living on the hill are to be endured for the 
sake of others. 

They are wrong who say that a man's 
first duty is to try and win heaven for himself, 
or as they sometimes seem to judge, to try 
and escape hell. It is not so. No man can 
be a disciple of Christ who is so selfish. 
Where is the selfishness in poverty of spirit, 
in grief, in. meekness, in hunger and thirst for 
reconciliation with God, in mercy, in pureness 
of heart, in the desire to be peacemakers, in 
patience under persecution and calumny ? 
There is none. Christ blesses men if they 
adopt an attitude which turns their whole life 
into a conflict, and he tells them that this 
conflict must be maintained not in any selfish 
spirit, but to help others to enter upon the 
same conflict. The blessing of Christ can 


only be kept If it be passed on to others. If 
men would keep it for themselves alone, they 
are denied it. " A new commandment I give 
unto you, that ye love one another ; as I have 
loved you, that ye also love one another. 
By this shall all men know that ye are my 
disciples, if ye have love one to another." 
Christ declares in these words that no one 
can partake of his spirit who does not love his 
neighbour as himself; and more, that the 
ideal of discipleship is to love his neighbour 
better than himself — " That ye love one 
another in the measure in which I have 
loved you." 

I dare not say of any other that judged 
by this standard his life is a failure, but of 
my own I know this is the case, that my 
prayer must be for mercy and pity. The 
vision of discipleship which the spiritual eye 
discerns when this passage of the gospel is 
read, is, I confess, from God. It cannot be 
demonstrated, but demonstrated it is. and I 
know it. . I know also that it has not always 
been a vision, but that he who loved to call 


himself the Son of man realised it in his life 
here among men ; and that the lives of some 
of his disciples plainly reflect its light. It is 
not, therefore, a thing too high for men. They 
may painfully and gradually work the spiritual 
tissue of this dream of goodness into the web 
of their life ; and he is condemned who does 
not try. 

Where can such visions come from, if not 
from a more real and stable world than this ? 
It is that they may approach nearer to that 
world and draw others with them, that men 
are bidden to build their city on the hill. 
There the vision of discipleship is not so 
often blurred or concealed by mists. There 
men are nearer the kingdom of heaven, nearer 
to righteousness and peace and joy in the 
spirit of Christ. 

Somebody has said that a man cannot be 
great who does not attempt to achieve in his 
lifetime what could scarcely be accomplished 
in many lifetimes. So no one can be a dis- 
ciple of Christ who does not attempt to make 
of his life a picture of discipleship, even if in 


his hours of worldly wisdom and worldly dis- 
cretion he may judge success impossible. A 
man lives his life well only if there be devo- 
tion in it to something unattained, and con- 
tempt for what has been achieved ; he must 
spend his life in climbing, or he will not 
benefit his fellow-men. 

A city set on an hill cannot be hid. It 
must attract the eye. As a spiritual thing 
such a city remains conspicuous always — 
even when its builder is gone. It is a city 
with foundations, and lasts long after the 
judgment day. If its courts were built as 
courts of peace, and humility, and mercy, and 
sorrow, and righteousness, and pureness of 
heart, it became in that degree exempted 
from decay. Where one has built enduringly, 
another may build also, and build all the 
better for the example of him who went 
before. Did ever hands raise earthly build- 
ings more nearly imperishable than the amphi- 
theatres, aqueducts, and palaces of Rome ? 
These are enduring because they were the 
outcome of an architectural tradition to which 


generation after generation of builders con- 
tributed, till the ideal of one century became 
the builder s rule for the next. So it is with 
the men who determine to build their city on 
an hill. They have the example of thousands 
who have done the like before. But better 
than that, there exists a perfect pattern of the 
city as it should be built. How the master 
builder built such a city is all narrowly 
described and known. Thus there are two 
things to help men in their building — the 
pattern preserved in the gospel, and the 
example of other builders. Of those other 
builders those will teach best the masons' 
mystery to you or me who may have built 
before our eyes such a city as we desire our- 
selves to build. It is easier for us to build 
the court of peace, or of suffering for Christ's 
sake, or of love, or of pureness of heart, if we 
have long watched a former builder at the 
same work, who built on in the hope that we 
should one day copy him. A city set on an 
hill cannot be hid. If it be seen rising day 
after day, it becomes a mental picture in 


which every line and angle are distinct, the 
whole being as clear and familiar as the fields 
which a man knows first ; to which the mind 
travels back when it would fix the points of 
the compass. 

Not to build on the hill is to build on the 
plain. If I do not build courts of peace, and 
mercy, and pureness of heart, then I build 
courts of strife, and hate, and vain glory, and 
carnal curiosity. Even if I mean to build on 
the hill and build well, nevertheless I often 
build as if the city were on the plain, and as 
if its streets were to bear different names. 
What must become of me if I do not try to 
build on the hill at all ? But if in the main 
I really try to build on the hill and on the 
true foundation, then my city shall at least 
save its builder in that day, and perhaps save 
others too. " Let every man be careful to 
build upon the true foundation, Jesus Christ. 
Some build the walls of gold, and silver, and 
precious stones, others build them of timber 
and straw and reeds. The day of the Lord 
shall reveal and test the work as with fire. 


The solid walls shall remain and bring reward 
to their builder. The timber and straw and 
reeds shall burn away ; yet if those who built 
thus foolishly nevertheless built on the true 
foundation on the hill, their work may perish, 
but they shall themselves survive the fiery 


Fervent in spirit. — Romans xii ii. 

The precise cause why one day in the year 
rather than another is associated with the 
name of a particular apostle or evangelist is 
now scarcely ever to be discovered with 
certainty. Nevertheless, there is a strong 
presumption that every one of these saints' 
days does commemorate the most important 
event in the history of the saint in whose 
honour it is observed. If tradition is often 
vague and inarticulate, it is at the same time 
veracious. It may forget, but it does not 
intentionally falsify. 

The evidence of tradition, however, is 
sometimes deliberately ignored ; and this has 
taken place in respect to the 29th of June. 
Tradition declares that St. Peter and St. Paul 
both suffered martyrdom on the same day ; 


and in accord with tradition the Early Church 
commemorated on this day of the year both 
apostles together. It is easy to see why a 
church that paid singular honour to St. Peter 
should come to think that St. Paul was 
sufficiently honoured, if the day of his con- 
version was commemorated, and should be 
tempted to let the commemoration of his 
martyrdom fall into abeyance. 

But apart from this circumstance, interest- 
ing as it is historically, it is matter for regret 
that both apostles should not be com- 
memorated together. The two men must 
always be associated in men's minds. There 
is a characteristic common to both which 
makes this inevitable. Fervency of spirit, 
strength of enthusiasm — this is the mark of 
both. Take it away from either, and he has 
lost that which differences him from the bulk 
of mankind. But for this neither would have 
been selected for the work of building up the 
Church of Christ. 

It is the case that men are great in pro- 
portion to the strength of their enthusiasm. 


The Old Testament is one long record of the 
imperious might of enthusiasm. ** The angel 
of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of 
fire." This fire, the symbol of Jehovah's 
power, manifests itself in all the men who 
become instruments to perform his will — 
soldiers like those whose figures depicted on 
glass you study every morning in this church, 
Joshua, Gideon, Saul, David, and Jonathan ; 
prophets like Elijah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah. 
They are commissioned of God because they 
are fervent in spirit. It is for the same fire 
that John the Baptist was commissioned, and 
Peter, and Paul — a burning enthusiasm, a de- 
vouring ardour, fit to kindle men. 

The like mark of greatness is visible on 
the character of men prominent in what is 
miscalled profane history. Those who make 
or mar a generation, make it or mar it because 
they possess in greater measure than others 
a capacity for enthusiasm. The enthusiasm 
may be beneficent or it may be malign, but 
exist it must to a singular degree in every 
man who greatly influences others. 


At this point a distinction must be drawn, 
the distinction, namely, between the gifts of 
God and the gift of God. The gifts are 
natural endowments, energy, strength, saga- 
city, powers of body, mind, and character, all 
of them bestowed upon man without his ask- 
ing. The gift is the divine fire, the spirit of 
God himself, the gift of life, which is only 
bestowed on such as ask for it. Without the 
gift, the gifts may be put to the very worst 
uses. They may be a curse to him who has 
them and to his fellows. But if the gift be 
added to the gifts, the gifts, as St. Paul would 
say, become the arms of righteousness wielded 
in God's cause. The more abundant the 
gifts, the richer the gift. The gift cannot 
create the gifts, it can only sanctify them. 
St. Peter had always been confident, vigorous, 
intrepid, fervid, and clear-sighted ; St. Paul 
always logical, original, fiery, indomitable. 
They were both in nature leaders of men. 
When to these gifts the gift was added, St. 
Peter could not become a zealot, St. Paul 
could no longer remain a persecutor. They 


must work for God ; they could not work 
against God. 

God has given man much, and would fain 
give him more. What he has given cannot 
be used to the best purpose till the something 
more has been sought. Asked for it must 
be. Otherwise it cannot be got, the divine 
fire, the spirit whose name Is Life. I shall 
never be fervent In spirit until this God-given 
force Is active not only within me, purging 
the natural fire, controlling all my being, but 
active also outside me, creating enthusiasm in 
others, recruiting from the men around me 
the army of God. 

It is this contagiousness which makes 
fervency of spirit such an incalculable force 
in human life ; so powerful a weapon for 
good, If it be indeed augmented by the de- 
vouring, purging fire, which God imparts to 
the earnest seeker. 

The man of the last generation who of 
all men did most to relnvigorate the life of 
the English Church, although he died outside 
her communion, lets out the secret of his 


fertile and lasting influence, when he relates 
how the thought grew upon him and possessed 
him, " that deliverance is wrought, not by the 
many, but by the few, not by bodies but by 
persons," and how from his schooldays on- 
wards he loved and prized more every day 
the motto he had chosen as his own — 
" Exoriare aliquis." That call must be 
answered and obeyed by everyone who seeks 
the gift, and therefore desires to throw in his 
lot with the kingdom of God. Why, it is 
obeyed even by those who have never sought 
the gift, but have been content with the gifts 
alone. In every great epoch of history this 
contagion has been at work. The prevailing 
characteristic of the time has been fervency 
of spirit. Overtopping their fellows have 
been men of gigantic energy, possessed as it 
were by devouring fire, and kindling in their 
contemporaries an enthusiasm like their own. 
It is at times like these, and only then, that 
any country is great, that any people is in 
truth a nation. For the rest of the time it 
may have the name and the semblance of 


greatness, but is without the substance, with- 
out the spirit of life, dry bones without flesh 
and blood, muscle and sinew. 

It is the same with lesser bodies, such as 
that which at this time is congregated in this 
house. Is the school afire and alive? Are 
the gifts nurtured and used, to say nothing 
of the seeking for the gift ? If it be the case, 
and sometimes I think that it is so, that the 
school as a whole is deficient in fervour, in 
fire, in enthusiasm ; if it be the case, then the 
blame rests with each one in the many. It 
cannot but be that there is a capacity for 
enthusiasm in plenty here, if only someone 
would call it forth. Is there none who has 
fervour among his gifts, and the power to 
infect us all ? Is there none to respond to 
the call, " Exoriare aliquis " ? 

If they are right who say that this is a 
generation devoid of enthusiasm, although it 
have excitement in plenty, there is the greater 
cause why someone should arise to infect it. 
The dry bones may be made to live. The 
awakening may come at any time, suddenly. 


Any day some one of you who are young 
may arise and help to dispel the lethargy of 
the time, as wind clears the sky. It has been 
done before, it will be done again ; and why 
not by you ? St. Peter and St. Paul both 
were once but Peter and Paul, boys unknown 
and unmarked, but possessed of gifts which 
might be used or not, just as you are possessed 
of gifts which you may not use, yet may use, 
if you will. 

Peter and Paul not only used the gifts, 
they sought the gift. Hence they infected 
others not only with that life-giving energy 
or fire which ends in the same place in 
which it begins and operates, namely, here in 
this world, but also with a more vital, a more 
vitalising fire, which cannot be extinguished, 
and which outlives the body and shall outlive 
this world, a thing vouchsafed only to such 
as are — 

" still unsatisfied, 
Still seeking for a better thing than best, 
A fairer thing than fairest, without rest." 




My son is yet young and tender^ and the work is great. For 
the palace is not for man but for the Lord God. — 
I Chron. xxix I. 

There is an allegory in Plato that some have 
read and more have read of. Men sit, he 
says, in a cave with their backs to the sun- 
light. To and fro behind them pass things 
real and stable and everlasting, the shadows 
of which fall upon the wall of the cave. The 
men in the cave are for the most part content 
with its twilight, which they take for light, 
and with the shadows on the wall, which 
they take for realities ; but now and then one 
of them may bethink himself, and turning 
his eyes round to the light may understand. 
He then descries everything, not as it seems 
to be, but as it is — real manhood, real good- 
ness, real beauty, real truth, real life — the 
veritable things which throw the shadows that 
with most men pass for realities. 


It is this world of light and of reality into 
which men are transported, if they like, on 
Michaelmas day. All the parts of Scripture 
read in church suggest to them the existence 
of a very different world from that which they 
see with the natural eye. They are bidden 
to turn their heads round, and in room of the 
shadows cast on the back wall of the cave, to 
study the things which cast them ; and the 
real, actual world in which these entities 
exist eternally, the spiritual world, the world 
of ideas, the world of ideals, the kingdom of 

It was in that world the Jews loved to 
think that the temple took shape. The 
palace of the Lord God which Solomon built 
was modelled, they said, upon the tabernacle 
set up at each halting place in their vagrant 
journey from Egypt to Canaan; and that, they 
made sure, had been designed after a divine 
pattern divulged to Moses on Sinai, **to be 
an example or shadow " (mark the word) " of 
heavenly things " ; and divulged, no doubt it 
was, in a far truer way than they were used 


to imagine. Moses was of those who are not 
content with the twilight in the cave, and the 
flitting, wavering, misleading, ill-apprehended 
shadows. He had turned him about to the 
light and had seen God face to face. The 
palace for the Lord that he builded after the 
patterns whiph the light revealed was not 
made of bars and boards, silver sockets, 
golden rings, and veils of blue and purple and 
scarlet, as the men in the cave conceived. It 
was made by impressing somehow by the 
power of the spirit of God upon the race of 
Israel the persistent conviction that they had 
a destiny to fulfil as part of Jehovah's eternal 
purpose. The tabernacle that Moses builded 
he framed out of the souls of his countrymen, 
and being spiritual it exists still, and still in- 
creases in stateliness and beauty, now in the 
times of the Gentiles when the times of the 
Jews have for the present been fulfilled. 

Whensoever a man undertakes to build a 
palace for the Lord God, he must, like Moses, 
go to the spiritual world for his pattern. 
The temple to be raised is not made with 


hands. It has more substance : It is not one 
of those shadows on the wall. It Is real. 
The pattern Is In fact the veritable Image 
of God, Christ Jesus himself. The en- 
deavouring to make out that pattern, to build 
a palace after that copy In his own soul, will 
and shall put power and reality Into every- 
thing a man does. He cannot be satisfied 
then with things just as he finds them — that 
would be to be content with the shadows ; 
he will always be referring to his pattern, and 
examining things In the searching light of 
truth, the light that Is the knowledge of God. 
The foundation of such a palace is laid 
when anyone begins in this way to frame 
his life upon the pattern furnished by the 
gospels. If he Is honest and sticks to his 
purpose, and does not reject the Comforter, 
he will continue, if not to raise a palace, 
nevertheless to build what God for Christ's 
sake will take for a palace, in judging the 
builder's work by his motives and ideals and 
efforts. His would indeed be a desperate 
case whose building were otherwise judged. 


The one requirement Is that It be raised In 
intention and by labour upon the one founda- 
tion, Christ. The honesty of purpose will 
redeem the whole. The foundation will 
glorify the whole. 

This Is the beginning of a school year. 
A good many of you are fresh to West- 
minster, and know next to nothing of the 
ambitions and alms, the merits and demerits, 
the temptations and the Inspirations proper 
to the place. We who have been longer 
here welcome you to your room In the lap 
of this gentle mother, who for some five 
centuries has reared up children to play their 
parts as men to the honour and profit of the 
state. We know that It depends greatly 
upon us whether the new comers will soon 
or late learn to cherish her as she deserves 
to be cherished. If we are true and faithful 
sons of this loving foster-mother, then from 
the first we shall esteem the last come not as 
strangers, but as brothers and kin. 

For us, as for them, this time brings a 
fresh opportunity, offers a new starting point. 


Shall we break with old faults, shall we dis- 
card foolish or evil habits, shall we throw off 
soiled and Ill-becoming views of life and duty? 
Shall we turn round from the shadows to the 
realities ? Shall we build a palace for the 
Lord God ? 

The new comers ought to find here — do 
they find It ? — a pure and wholesome air fit 
to breed hardy spirits. The life In which 
they now share they ought to discover ere 
long to be turned to the future, eager for 
expansion, dissatisfied with performance, dis- 
contented with the past, a corporate life 
bursting with vigour, active in every direction, 
willing in work, ardent In play, jealous of Its 
good name, quick to abet good and to check 
evil, determined to be a power and a stay to 
the cause of truth and godliness. Even on 
this the third day of term they should have 
begun to feel that there are spiritual influences, 
angelic forces, nearer than of old, ready at 
their call to aid them In eradicating evil and 
implanting good. 

They come to us, prepared for much. 


perhaps. They may be aware that many 
great and many famous men have issued out 
of Westminster, and they may dream haply 
of inheriting their mantle, and even of re- 
ceiving a double portion of their spirit. At 
the least they are eager to be endowed with 
the sense of great traditions. 

It is our business to make sure that the 
past with which we endow them is not dead 
and antiquated, but is a living force compact 
of animating and invigorating memories ; no 
fossilised past of customs and forms out of 
which the vital breath passed long ago, though 
a tender, if misplaced, affection delay to put 
it out of sight ; not a past which encumbers 
the present, but a fertile, fructifying ground, 
from which spring living flowers of Imagina- 
tion and thought, of virtuous endeavour, and 
of manliness and honest rivalry, wherewith to 
deck the present. 

We can make new comers free of our 
past, but the future is not entirely ours to 
give. It is their own quite as much as it is 
ours, in some respects even more than it is 


ours ; and plainly we may claim from them 
their part in the covenant, executed here in 
God's presence this day. They are young 
and tender, and the work is great. Never- 
theless they may achieve it. They are ex- 
pected to achieve it, if they can, in the years 
to be spent with their foster-mother. They 
have duties by her as she has duties by them. 
Them and us she would fain see build a far 
more glorious palace for the Lord God than 
the temple of Solomon ever was. 

This we shall not accomplish if we take 
things as we find them, nor try to improve 
by keeping the ideal pattern always in 
the soul's eye and working by it. It is 
fatal to gaze at the shadow which it throws. 
We must view the thing itself It is not 
enough to acknowledge the necessity for a 
pattern to build by. The pattern must be 
copied faithfully and painfully. It is not 
enough to turn the face now and again to 
the light in order to scan the figures, and 
then return in contentment to the gloom and 
the shadows of the cave. But we must love 


to carry thoughts and ambitions, impressions 
and imaginlns^s, fancies and sentiments, In- 
spirations such as those which emerge from 
the past in which we glory, out of the cave 
into the broad light of day. Then we may 
hope each to rear his life as a holy house, 
a temple not made with hands ; and the 
house so reared will In its turn become part 
of the greater and more stately palace for 
the Lord God which the school may build, If 
it will. 

No one can say for sure whether this term, 
for instance, the foundations of the greater 
house are already laid deep, each stone rest- 
ing securely on the rock of the true Founda- 
tion, each wall built true to the pattern as 
scanned in the searching light of heaven ; or 
whether only a few stones are as yet in their 
place, while the others are either still to lay 
or are supported by nothing but banks of 

You are young and tender, and the work 
is great. Sometimes every stone you lay 
will be raised by a heart-breaking effort, and 


even when you think it placed, the stone may- 
seem to roll back down hill or sink and be 
lost. Our palace can not be completed in a 
term, or indeed at all. Nevertheless, it is 
worth while, we know, to build on. Though 
it will never be finished, it will go on growing. 
There are great churches which have been 
hundreds of years in the building and are not 
absolutely completed yet. There is always 
some new grace to add, some old stone to be 
replaced or secured. But the building is in 
use all the while, worshipped in, prayed in, 
lifting men above their work-a-day lives, and 
teaching them something of the omnipotence 
and the holiness of God, of the sanctity and 
the glory of human life. So, as we labour at 
our palace, we may know that, as the work 
proceeds, even if it be unending, we are all 
the while making it easier for those who come 
after us here, and for many another, uncon- 
nected in time and place with us, to grasp the 
notion of a true education, a developing of 
human nature by the aid of the spirit of God. 


/ send you forth as lambs among wolves. — Luke x 3. 

When Herod stopped John the Baptist's 
mouth, Jesus himself for himself In his own 
name took up at once John's cry, " Repent; 
the kingdom of heaven Is at hand." That in 
effect Is the gospel, the sum of Christ's teaching 
as a fact in history, attested by contemporary 
evidence more complete and conclusive than 
any which can be furnished for most of the 
events of that time. The teaching In broad 
outline and sometimes In minute detail has 
been preserved for posterity by four several 
men, two of whom did not themselves hear it, 
while the others did not when they heard it 
understand much about It ; as indeed is 


admitted in the documents themselves, and 
is plain from what is said at the beginning of 
the Acts^ that the risen Christ had still to 
instruct the disciples concerning the kingdom 
of God, and that even thereafter they could 
ask, *' Lord, wilt thou at this time restore 
again the kingdom to Israel ? " 

Nevertheless, misapprehended as it was, 
and wrested from its spiritual bearings, the 
conception of an empire of God had caught 
the imagination of men. The Word had 
sown himself in the heart of the race, and 
should fructify, generation after generation, 
multiplying and spreading, and withal in- 
creasing in vigour, just as the natural seed of 
wheat has spread all the world over from its 
home in the alluvial banks of the Euphrates, 
and has lost thereby none of its generative or 
nutritive power. 

Pilate's question put to Jesus from the 
Praetorium in Jerusalem, " Art thou a king 
then ? " was soon to be put to the Christ by 
thousands in every corner of the seething 
Roman Empire, from workshop and market- 


place, from school and synagogue, from palace 
and hovel ; and the answer, '* To this end was 
I born, and for this end came I into the world, 
that I should bear witness unto the truth," 
was not always to be met, as it was met by 
Pilate, with the cynical retort, " What is 
truth ? " Two empires clashed when Pilate 
and Jesus stood face to face — an empire of 
men, founded, as all such empires must in the 
last resort be founded, upon physical force, 
and the empire of God, which not only has 
nothing at all to do with physical force, but 
is based upon something antagonistic to it, 
irreconcilable with the exercise of physical 
force, upon love and forbearance of man with 
man. The two sorts of empires will always 
exist together so long as this world lasts. 
He is a bad citizen of the one and a mis- 
guided citizen of the other who confounds 
them. Christ himself kept the two powers, 
the spiritual and the temporal, distinct. The 
power that Pilate represented was conferred 
"from above." The guilt of Jesus Christ's 
condemnation, Christ himself said, lay rather 


with the soul of him who had deHvered Jesus 
by a false accusation Into Pilate's power. 

But be that as It may, the fact that such 
an argument could be used at all — that the 
empire of God as proclaimed by Jesus was a 
menace to the empire of Rome — seems cer- 
tainly to justify the Inference that the phrase, 
the kingdom of heaven or empire of God, did 
bring up by association the Idea of the empire 
of Rome ; or perhaps It would be more rea- 
sonable to argue, that the mental picture of a 
kingdom of God was made possible to ordi- 
nary men by the mental picture they had 
already formed of an empire of Rome co- 
extensive with the discovered world. It is 
therefore not far from the truth to suppose 
that the words of Jesus to the Seventy, '* I 
send you forth as lambs among wolves," did 
suggest one substantial part of the idea of 
the Roman empire ever present In the 
thoughts of the prouder races compelled to 
accept it. To these Rome was the spoiler 
of the world, the devastator of the nations ; 
they spoke of her sons as the she- wolfs suck- 


lings, who had drunk in the lust for plunder 
with the milk of their wolf-nurse, a lust that 
neither east nor west could satisfy. 

Was there one of the Seventy who did 
not think of the contrast when as emissaries 
of the empire of God they were bidden go 
forth as lambs among wolves ? The king- 
dom of the Lamb was other, they must at 
least have dimly discerned, than the empire 
of the Wolf, the peace of God than the 
Roman peace. They saw selfishness and 
rapacity in the one : as ambassadors from 
the other they were bidden proclaim gentle- 
ness and self-denial. 

In the providence of God, Rome taught 
the world sternly, remorselessly, many a 
much-needed lesson ; but these lessons were 
moral, not spiritual. She was God's instru- 
ment, not God's word. It was a new thing 
when within the empire of Rome another 
empire with different claims was announced, 
an empire best to be extended by those who 
go out as lambs among wolves, who take no 
food with them or money to buy it, and 


neither demand nor seize it, who carry no 
weapons, and if they meet with hostihty turn 
their backs, who cannot enforce that for which 
they go forth. 

The idea was new then, but is it old 
now ? Is it not always fresh with the dew 
of heaven upon it every time it visits the 
heart ? When it comes at all, it cannot come 
as a thought out-worn, but is always infinite 
in variety. 

If the seventy ambassadors had asked 

their king what all was implied in his figures 

of lamb and wolf, he would have but repeated 

for interpretation of the one word the thoughts 

which he had expressed already in the sermon 

on the mount, and for the other would no 

doubt have read for them the secrets in the 

hearts of their natural instructors, the Scribes 

and Pharisees. The wolves in spirit, the 

adherents of the empire of the world, are all 

who think first of self, to whom nothing is 

sacred but their own advantage, who to 

gratify their passions trample under foot the 

most precious possessions of other men, the 



honour of others, the love of others, the 
purity of others. Even here in this Httle 
community, always changing yet never ex- 
tinct, this body, framed of some twelve 
score souls of divers ages, from the youngest 
new-comer to the grey-headed man who now 
speaks to him, of divers tempers and expe- 
riences, from him who sees the golden gates 
of life turning, and in fiery hope pushes 
through them, to him who has left them far 
behind, and begins to debate whether at 
the end of his journey he may be able to 
say to the king with sincere self-condemna- 
tion that he has been but an unprofitable 
servant,— even in this little community there 
have shown themselves from time to time, 
and there will always show themselves, 
wolfish spirits, persons who devastate like 
wolves, from whom even the lambs in Christ's 
fold are not safe. If they do not rend they 
bite, and their bite is tainted and tainting. 
And there are other wolves worse than those 
which frankly display their predatory instinct, 
wolves, as they are called, in sheep's clothing, 


that pretend to be harmless, but stealthily, 
cunningly, treacherously, pursue their wolfish 

Nor are these two the only species of 
wolves that sometimes appear in this land, 
which, like every other corner of the earth, 
belongs. in part to the empire of the world 
and in part to the empire of God. Besides 
the wolves that ravin openly and the wolves 
that dog their prey stealthily, there are wolves 
which hardly know themselves to be such, 
having worn sheep's clothing so long that 
they even mistake themselves for sheep. 
These are the self-deceived who^ cannot 
measure their own selfishness or wolfishness, 
nor can divest themselves of it, forasmuch 
as they descry it not. They have let the 
habit grow of thinking themselves no worse 
than their neighbours. When a man is always 
making excuses for himself it is a certain sign 
that he has the wolfs nature. Why excuse 
himself, if sinned he has not ? To make 
excuses is to forgive himself for selfishness 
of one kind or another. It is a usurpation. 


Forgiveness must be craved ; it cannot be 
seized. Mercy can never be exercised by- 
anybody upon himself. God may be merciful 
and forgive me, if I be sorry for sin. Even 
men may forgive me ; but I have no manner 
of right to forgive myself Deep down in 
the heart of the unconscious hypocrite there 
is always the feeling that his shortcomings 
are things which he can or might find pallia- 
tion for ; that indeed they are not desperate. 
Moreover, not only am I too ready to forgive 
myself; I am always too ready to believe 
myself right. My judgments of my own 
conduct are as perverse as my judgments 
of others. I do not detect the wolfs spirit 
in the one case, in the other I detect it too 

In this little congregation there is probably 
none frankly wolfish, purposefully devoted to 
the empire of Satan, but there are certainly 
some who thinking themselves lambs, con- 
ceiving themselves to belong to the empire 
of God, are nevertheless mistaken. They 
are mistaken if they do not feel that they 


need God's forgiveness every hour. They 
are mistaken if they do not see that much 
must be done before they are quite rid of the 
wolfs spirit. They are mistaken if they 
claim to be profitable servants. They are 
mistaken if they take the promises of God 
as certainties, but scarcely esteem the warn- 
ings of God to be certainties too. Why, in 
this very charge of Jesus Christ to the 
Seventy there is a warning embarassing and 
disquieting. " If in any city your message," 
he says, " be not accepted, it shall be more 
tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that 
city." If it were so then, after the Word had 
been once preached, what of those who may 
study the Word daily in an open book and 
yet reject him ? 

There are in life many problems which 
become neither fewer nor more soluble as we 
grow older. God s dealings with men in the 
mass will continue to be mysterious until the 
last page of history is turned, but for each 
man singly the one thing that most concerns 
him may become plainer day by day if he 


desire to apprehend It — the dealing of God 
with himself, the work of the Spirit in his 
heart. Faith grows, faith in God, faith in 
Christ, faith in the Spirit's unseen power. 
Love grows, love of Christ, and through love 
of Christ love of God and charity with men. 
Peace grows, the peace of God w^hich I shall 
invoke for you ere you separate, the peace 
that sanctifies Death himself and takes away 
his sting. The world falls away and its 
passing ambitions and disappointments, and 
in the room thereof arises a growing love 
for the kingdom of God. 



When ye shall have done all those things which are com- 
manded you, say, We are unprofitable servants : we 
have done that which was our duty to do. — LUKE 
xvii lo. 

Jesus Christ knowing, as the Son of man, 
man's bias to self-flattery, and knowing as 
the Son of God and as man's judge how 
hazardous this bias is, here corrects it with 
blunt directness. " Performance of duty is 
no merit. Do faithfully and punctiliously alt 
that God commands thee to do ; and having 
achieved that which thou well knowest none 
save thyself has ever achieved, thou art never- 
theless an unprofitable servant. Thou hast 
not exceeded thy duty. Nay, if thou indeed 
believe that thou hast performed thy whole 
duty thou art judged already ; for thou hast 
judged thyself" 


Christians in Christian charity and in 
gratitude designate as saints some who 
appear to them to have served God less 
unprofitably than others ; and in this doubtless 
they do well, so long at least as they are 
careful not to confound the judgment of men 
with the judgment of Christ himself, and are 
careful to realise that in commemorating men 
like themselves they but show their thankful- 
ness for what they believe to be encouraging 
examples of faithful service of God rendered 
possible by spiritual strength derived from 
Jesus Christ. 

This, and this only, is the teaching of the 
Anglican Church in regard to this day's 
festival, as indeed is plain from the collect for 
this day, which in the sixteenth century was 
substituted for an older form which did not 
inculcate this teaching. Nor could any other 
teaching accord with the gospel. The one 
exemplar for the Christian is He after whom 
he is called. Believing in Him, convinced 
that he partakes of His Spirit, he believes 
and is convinced that this indwelling Spirit 


admits him into communion with all besides 
in whom He dwells. 

It is not, however, with the principal 
thought suggested by the festival of All 
Saints that I am concerned now, but with the 
responsibility for the use of the gift of life 
under which all men lie, under which those 
whom we commemorate each in his generation 
once lay. 

Whether men in the bulk recognise this 
responsibility more than was once the case, 
there is of course no certain means of telling. 
It is impossible to make sure what course 
spiritual movements take, or to measure their 
intensity. Progress in this kind is made up 
of innumerable tendencies, each in itself in- 
significant. A man knows that in the life of 
his generation there is spiritual movement of 
many kinds, but he may well be mistaken in 
determining the set of the current. Acknow- 
ledging therefore that error is possible, I 
should be sorry to say in so many words that 
there is progress in the way in which men 
regard their duties and responsibilities; never- 


theless, I cannot help thinking that there has 
been progress, and progress capable even of 
a rough sort of measurement. There are 
more men now, perhaps, who put their spare 
time — the tempora sicbseciva of life — to a wiser 
use than there were last century, or even 
last generation. Public sentiment may still 
condone many forms of selfishness, but it con- 
dones less readily the more brutal kinds. In 
a blundering way, no doubt, yet meaning well, 
it countenances the efforts of those who 
honestly try to make brotherly love an 
effectual force in knitting man to man and 
class to class. It does recognise the duty of 
service. Hosts of men still see no rule In 
life but self-advancement and self-enjoyment, 
but there would seem to be more deserters 
from their ranks than from the battalions of 
such as have already learned that the service 
of man is the service of God. More get to 
feel that, like every other thing of value 
possessed by men, life has its obligations 
which cannot be evaded without detracting 
from its value. More come to understand 


that they approach wisdom and happiness 
just SO far as they learn that the true enjoy- 
ment of life is commensurate with the willing- 
ness with which they endeavour to perform 
its duties ; that they are never happier than 
when mind and body are occupied every 
waking hour in doing that work to which 
their conscience has given its adherence. 

There is no one in this place, for example, 
who would not acknowledge, if the question 
were put to him, that he ought to make as 
much of his life as he can, serving God with 
it by serving others. He might say, however, 
that he scarcely saw how he could set about 
this service until he became a man. You 
may all be sure that you are in the street 
Straight if the one thought is never wholly 
lost sight of, that this is your time of prepara- 
tion for leading a life of service when you are 
grown. You are here in order that you may 
train will and brain and body for manhood, 
storing your frame with health, your mind 
with knowledge, and your character with pur- 
pose and decision. Anything that conflicts 


with this ideal of school-Hfe conflicts also 
with the ideal of duty involved in these words 
of Jesus Christ. 

We masters also, your professed advisers 
and guides during the years in which you 
prepare yourselves for men's work, are by 
the same words constrained to throw heart 
and soul into the business of making you 
ready. We are your governors, but we are 
first of all your servants. The school, we 
know, does not exist for the masters, but for 
the boys. It is our first concern to make 
you ready. We must ourselves continue to 
study and to learn, that our minds may keep 
fresh and full for your instruction ; and if we 
set an ill example in conduct and self-govern- 
ment, in eagerness, in laboriousness, in punc- 
tuality, in soberness of life, in contempt for 
money and comfort, we know ourselves to be 
hirelings and unfaithful servants. Some of 
the blame shall lie at our door if you are 
not ready to face life like men, when men 
you become. 

When the preparative time ends, life will 


change its look and colour not a little. At 
school every hour is filled with some direct 
occupation. Most men on the other hand 
are largely left to themselves. Their day's 
work at all events ends at some fixed time. 
They have some leisure to use or to squander. 
If in the time for making ready they have so 
learned the duty of labour that it has become 
a habit with them, they are sure to use their 
leisure reasonably. More projects will crowd 
in upon their brain than they can carry out, 
and their difificulty will be to select the most 
serviceable to their fellows. I should not 
give much for any man who at any moment 
in his life has not more things that he would 
like to do than time to overtake them. There 
is no real sense of responsibility for the use 
of life, the duty of service has not been learned, 
until the responsibility, the duty, has become 
attractive ; until the longing for labour of 
some kind is turned into a sort of instinct. 
It is this, let me repeat, which makes the 
many several lives spent together in this 
place so deeply interesting, so rife with good 


or SO rife with ill. The unstable and moving 
outcome of the impulses and the thoughts, 
the words and the actions, of these sundry 
lives thrown together, clashing together, meet- 
ing, must act and react upon the character of 
each person so powerfully, that it becomes a 
matter of the most serious moment whether 
that outcome makes in the main for good or 
for evil. If this thought be not altogether 
forgotten, if it be at least in the minds of a 
few ever present and active, then the school 
will in some degree fulfil its purpose in form- 
ing for its sons a habit of life incompatible 
with any abased conception of duty and 

But if better than nothing, this is less 
than the ideal that Jesus held up to the 
Twelve, and less than the spirit of Christ 
renders possible for those who suffer him to 
dwell in them. If always clean and sweet 
and cleansing, the habit of labour and the 
pursuit of duty need cleanse and sweeten 
only the natural man. The character may 
remain selfish and unsympathetic, even when 


it scorns the squandering of time and the 
misuse of God's other gifts. Such an atti- 
tude may not be Christian at all. It is not 
bred from the spirit of Christ, nor is a man 
born again thereby. Hence the importance 
of the more prominent spiritual influences for 
the common life led at school. The few 
minutes together in Abbey before lessons 
begin, in the schoolroom when they end, 
may mean little or much to the single soul — 
Christ alone can judge — but they do bring 
one and all together into the presence of God 
twice each day ; and the few or the many 
who at these times seek the spirit of Christ 
understand more clearly day by day what 
Christ means when he says, that having done 
all that is commanded them they are un- 
profitable servants. 



The Lord satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry 
soul with goodness. — Psalm cvii 9 

Somebody has said that '' those who are 
not quite satisfied are the sole benefactors of 
the world " ; and, bold though the doctrine 
be, none can prove it untrue. It is true of 
single men ; it is true of bodies of men. It 
is true of the mind ; it is just as true of the 

In a Greek writer an enemy of the 
Athenians is made to say that the hunger of 
the mind was just the difference which marked 
them off from other men ; that when they 
had once conceived some purpose, they 
thought that they suffered loss if it were not 
made good ; if they had any success they 


esteemed it a mere instalment of the whole ; 
and if they failed they could not rest until 
they had fomented new hopes. In this 
portrait are seen the lineaments of a great 
race, of a rich nature — life, vigour, movement, 
interest, enthusiasm, belief, hope. 

In the case of Athens the craving for 
something better and greater was in the 
main intellectual. The thin, unthrifty soil of 
Attica bred a race that so hungered and 
thirsted after truth and beauty, that in art 
and literature these achievements are still the 
wonder and the despair and the inspiration 
of the world. In the case of another people, 
almost as weak in numbers and bred on as 
sterile a soil, the dissatisfaction with past 
performance was displayed in things spiritual. 
The longing soul hungering after righteous- 
ness, thirsting for the waters of life, eagerly 
awaiting the coming of the day of the Lord, 
is the soul of Elijah, and Amos, and Hosea, 
and Isaiah, and the rest of the prophets. It 
is the soul of John the Baptist and the sons 
of Zebedee, of Simon Peter and Andrew. 



" The two disciples followed Jesus. Then 
Jesus turned, and saw them following, and 
saith unto them. What seek ye ? They said 
unto him. Rabbi, where dwellest thou ? " 
They sought the day of the Lord, and it was 
come to them. Its dawn was at last visible. 
They had seen the Messiah. They had 
begun to discover that "the Lord satisfieth 
the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul 
with goodness." 

The text is a sort of beatitude pronounced 
upon the discontentment of a man with his 
past life and his present spiritual achieve- 
ment. It can never be well with anyone if 
he imagines that progress comes fast enough ; 
if he is content with what he is, with the 
measure of knowledge or fervour or courage 
or goodness which he has reached. To 
become content is to stop expanding and 
growing and doing good. It is worse. It 
is to begin to retrograde, to impede progress^ 
to produce in other men, as in oneself, stag- 
nation of spirit. How can anyone inspire 
others who sees no need for becoming better 


himself ? How can he inform other souls 
with enthusiasm if he keeps no spark alight 
wherewith to kindle them ? 

It may not be in me to excel greatly In 
anything else, but it is my own fault if I 
excel not in this hunger of the soul. I can 
at least long to become better, purer in heart, 
more generous in judging, less ready to envy 
and jealousy, more courageous In doing my 
duty, less bound by conventions, more in love 
with the right, more truthful in word and 
act and thought. I can prove my affection for 
home or for school by adding the results of 
this self-discontent or hunger of the soul to the 
common stock of good influences from which 
I have myself derived advantage. Earnest- 
ness is catching, and if earnestly 1 hunger 
after goodness, I make others .hunger also. 
If on the other hand, instead of longing to 
be better than I am, I do as some have done 
lately, and crush conscience and openly glory 
in a lie, and having experience in evil tempt 
others therewith, I surely cannot do others 
any good, nor can I cherish any real affection 


for my home or my school. To act in this 
way is a sign that the soul is not only content 
and lethargic, but is bent upon evil against 
itself and against others. 

A spark may pass from soul to soul as 
instantaneous as the spark that leaps between 
the poles of an electric battery, and as potent 
to alter the nature of the elements through 
which it passes. The spiritual atmosphere 
of the school is charged with influences given 
off by ourselves, some begotten of the soul's 
hunger for goodness, some of the soul's 
lethargy, or worse, of the soul's hunger after 
evil. Let me try to describe what happens 
when there is hunger for goodness. The 
other picture I should rather not draw at all. 
It is the reverse in every point. 

There is no means of estimating the good 
which any one soul may do by its hunger and 
thirst after goodness, but everyone knows 
when this hunger is common in the school. 
In a subtle, untraceable way there has arisen 
in place of sloth and torpor a sort of energy 
which finds its way into all, renovating and 


Strengthening will and soul and mind. I 
have seen this happen more than once, and 
have been filled with wonder and with rever- 
ence, seeing what had seemed to be common 
and ordinary intelligence assuming strength 
and clearness and comprehensiveness, and 
what once appeared to be unambitious and 
self-satisfied spirits taking the purity and 
depth of purpose which alone dignify cha- 
racter ; best of all, feeling the spirit of Christ 
sought and received and active. 

This magnetic power of one over many, 
and of many over one, seems to arise no one 
knows how ; but it is certainly only the last 
stage of a long continuous process in which 
many single souls have been longing and 
hungering after goodness, and many wills 
have perseveringly been exerted to force 
weakness to give place to strength, lethargy 
to ardour, the love of ease to activity, and 
cowardice to courage. * 

Life in any form is worthy of admiration, 
but in none does it produce so great an im- 
pression of majesty as when it is revealed in 


the souls of men. There is no means whereby 
the bodily life of one man may impart of its 
strength to the life of another. No man can 
give to another a share in his vigorous con- 
stitution or active frame. There is no emana- 
tion of influence from bodily vitality, however 
great ; but it is otherwise with men's minds 
and souls. These give and take. They 
meet and interpenetrate. They touch and 
are one. 

It is of concern, therefore, to the school 
what spirit most are of If at any time there 
are many within it who are content to go on 
as they are ; if at any time there are even a 
few within it who are condoned when they 
act as though evil were their good, it is not 
well with the common life, and the evil is 
certain to grow and to declare itself also ere 

There are at least some here who already 
are possessed by this hunger for something 
better, this longing for something higher, this 
discontent with self, this faith, this spirit of 
Christ. To them the school will never know 


all that it owes ; but be they many in number 
or be they few, it is they and they alone who 
produce the best part of any training that the 
rest receive here. They are the school. They 
are your schoolmasters and mine. 



/ am no more worthy to be called thy son : make me as 
one of thy hired servants. — Luke xv 19. 

The household which the younger son is 
eager to forsake comprises three several 
orders under the one householder. There 
are the sons of the house, the hired servants, 
and the slaves. The men who make up each 
class think that they serve, and are thought 
to serve, the one householder. All would 
appear to labour in his house or in his fields. 
The elder son himself works with the rest ; 
for it is he who says : '* Lo, these many years 
do I serve thee, neither have I transgressed 
at any time thy commandment." The ser- 
vants, whether of one kind or of another, sons 
and hirelings and slaves, all alike are entrusted 


with the householder's treasures and gear; 
they wait at his table or fatten beasts in his 
stalls. Any one of them all, slave or hireling 
or elder son, is free to go forth from the 
house at his pleasure, and travel, as did the 
younger son, into a far country. 

The key to the interpretation of this 
parable is to be found, I conceive, in the 
description that is drawn of the far country. 
The far country is the world, openly and 
frankly sought. It is the house of another 
householder who is known by sundry names, 
varying with the nature of his lures or of his 
wages. He is Satan or the Devil when he is 
regarded as the adversary of God and of 
man ; he is Belial, as the denier of man's 
responsibilities to God ; he is the prince of 
this world, as tempting men by worldly power 
and secular glory ; he is the father of lies, as 
rejecting reality and truth ; he is Abaddon or 
Apollyon, as the destroyer of souls. There- 
fore, if such be the potentate whom the 
citizens of the far country are bound to obey, 
then the household remote from his authority 


must be the opposite of his domain. It is 
the Church of God, composed of those who 
by profession at least desire to serve and to 
love God, and to keep aloof from the far 
country. This much all the three orders, 
sons and hirelings and slaves, allege that 
they do. They do not openly with audacity 
seek the far country. If they go thither at 
times, they steal away and steal back. They 
deceive the rest of the household, and perhaps 
even imagine that they deceive the house- 
holder himself. 

The three orders in this great household 
are not at all times composed of the same 
men. Single souls pass continually from one 
class into another. He who is a hireling one 
day may be a slave the next, or a slave may 
become a hireling, or the elder son himself 
may degrade into a servant, working for hire 
or for a morsel of bread, as when he says to 
his father : '* Lo, these many years do I 
serve thee, and yet thou never gavest me a 
kid that I might make merry with my friends." 
If the elder son can thus assume the hireling 


spirit, then neither slave nor hired servant 
can be precluded from joining the order of 
sons, if only he begin to serve from love. 
The householder is always saying to him : 
^' Thou art ever with me, and all that I have 
is thine;" and if only he will believe, he shall 
become son In room of hireling or of slave. 

The more often I read these calm utter- 
ances of the Eternal Word, these simple 
histories of man's divers relations with his 
Maker, I read them with an awe always 
growing, with a fear that seizes and almost 
overwhelms, that if I may not go boldly out 
into the far country, yet in the household of 
God I am no son at all, but a hireling or a 

Some of you asked me last week why I 
had called it wrong to pray for anything other 
than spiritual gifts, for success, say, in any 
ordinary enterprise. Perhaps you see now, 
after studying this parable, as you might also 
see after studying certain other parables, that 
he who prays for material blessings of any 
kind Is In danger of ranking as a hired servant 


or a slave. All I have, in strength, in ability, 
in opportunity, is the gift of God, and must 
be accounted for. Why therefore pray for 
success ? What I should pray for is the 
power in Christ so to love God that I use his 
gifts to the full in his service, and not for 
myself. If I pray for success, I pray as the 
pagans prayed or pray to their several gods ; 
I pray as a hireling, and not as a son. 

The other day when some here declared 
before the eyes of their natural and their 
spiritual kindred, of their comrades and their 
friends, that they sought the spirit of Christ, 
they and the congegation that witnessed their 
act represented the great household in the 
parable with its three orders of sons and hire- 
lings and slaves. No eye of man could 
discern the difference by which each soul fell 
into one class or into another ; nevertheless, 
for the time, each single soul present there 
did belong to one and only one of the three 

There were there those who might be 
called passive members of the household^ 


downright slaves, bound in the ties of con- 
vention, who for fashion^s sake or appearance 
sake, have suffered the name of Christ Jesus 
to be invoked upon them, and perform with- 
out love, yet perhaps punctiliously, the outward 
forms of service, keeping, it may be, the robes 
and jewels of the household, providing the 
vessels and the wherewithal to load them, 
making merry in festivals, and in fasts fasting, 
because they are bidden so to do by ecclesias- 
tical ordinances. " These things they ought 
to have done and not to leave the others 
undone." They belong to the order of slaves, 
men who serve only with the bodily presence 
in church, who are concerned with the manner 
of the ceremonies there used, and regard not 
the weightier matters of the law, mercy and 
brotherly love and the allegiance of the spirit. 
They understand not the " glorious liberty of 
the sons of God." 

There were present also those whose 
service for the time is of a less ignoble kind, 
yet not spiritual service springing from love. 
These are the servants hired by sundry 


qualities or opportunities derived from God, 
who use them, It may be, Hke free men in the 
moral service of God, but not for the love of 
God so much as for their own satisfaction, or 
even for their own advancement. Whole- 
hearted men, perhaps, living cleanly, using 
their bodies and their faculties and character 
for honourable ends, priding themselves in 
their assiduous performance of the duties and 
responsibilities of their several positions, and 
contented therein, wholly satisfied thereby. 
Such have their reward in full. The famished 
prodigal, when he had discovered the spIrltuaP 
emptiness of the far country, for all Its flaunt- 
ing plenty in lusts fulfilled and desires made 
good and the pride of life gratified, conceiving 
that he had forfeited for ever his birthright 
as a son, was turned by disgust at the husks 
of his swinish life to desire the moral con- 
tentment enjoyed by these hired servants in 
his father's household. He was only saved 
therefrom by his self-humiliation and abasht 
contrition. No sooner did he see his father 
than he dared not pray for worldly success 


prodigal though he was, any more than he 
dared claim spiritual restoration ; therefore, 
he belonged not to the hireling order, but to 
the order of sons. For the hired servant 
takes his wage as his due and is satisfied that 
he has earned it well. How could the pro- 
digal acquire such contentment ? He had 
nothing but faith and love, penitence and 
hope ; and his sins which were many were 
forgiven him. 

Of others in the far country, save of this 
sojourner there, I shall say nothing, although 
it may well be that even In this congregation 
composed of souls that should not be wholly 
withdrawn from God, there are yet those who 
are citizens of that country, satisfied with 
their master, the prince of this world, tilling 
their belly with the things he provides, nor 
ever touched with the sense of famine such 
as the younger son felt when he inhabited 
there. Some such I have known even here 
at times ; and these perhaps may lay It at my 
door in the judgment day that their content- 
ment with the husks that the swine eat was 


not dispelled during the years that they spent 
at Westminster. May Christ determine that 
they speak falsely ; or grant them forgiveness, 
if I am justly accused. I shall not be able to 
gainsay them. 




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