QUIET TALKS ON SERVICE
S. D. GORDON
Author of "Quiet Talks on Power" and "Quiet Talks on Prayer"
Personal Contact with Jesus: The Beginning of Service The Triple Life: The Perspective of Service Yokefellows: The Rhythm of Service A Passion for Winning Men: The Motive-power of Service Deep-Sea Fishing: The Ambition of Service Money: The Golden Channel of Service Worry: A Hindrance to Service Gideon's Band: Sifted for Service
Personal Contact With Jesus: The Beginning of Service.
The Beginning of an Endless Friendship. An Ideal Biography. The Eyes of the Heart. We are Changed. The Outlook Changed. Talking with Jesus. Getting Somebody Else. The True Source of Strong Service.
Personal Contact With Jesus: The Beginning of Service.
The Beginning of an Endless Friendship.
About a quarter of four one afternoon, three young men were standing together on a road leading down to a swift-running river. It was an old road, beaten down hard by thousands of feet through hundreds of years. It led down to the river, and then along its bank through a village scatteringly nestled by the fords of the river. The young men were intently absorbed in conversation.
One of them was a man to attract attention anywhere. He was clearly the leader of the three. His clothing was very plain, even to severeness. His face was spare, suggesting a diet as severely plain as his garments. The abundance of dark hair on head and face brought out sharply the spare, thoughtful, earnest look of his face. His eyes glowed like coals of living fire beneath the thick, bushy eyebrows. He talked quietly but intensely. There was a subdued vigor and force about his very person.
One of the others was a very different type of man. He was intense too, like the leader, but there was a fineness and a far-looking depth about his eye such as suggests a gray eye rather than a black. His hair was softer and finer, and his skin too. In him intensity seemed to blend with a fine grain in his whole make-up. The third man was a quiet, matter-of-fact looking fellow. He did not talk much, except to ask an occasional question. The three men were engaged in earnest conversation, when a fourth man, a stranger, came down the road and, passing the three by, went on ahead.
The leader of the three called the attention of his companions to the stranger. At once they leave his side and go after the stranger. As they nearly catch up to him, he unexpectedly turns and in a kindly voice asks, "Whom are you looking for?" Taken aback by the unexpected question, they do not answer, but ask where he is going. Quickly noticing the point of their question, he cordially says, "Come over and take tea with me."
They gladly accepted the invitation, and spent the evening with him. And the friendship begun that day continued to the end of their lives. Both became his dear friends. And one, the fine-grained, intense man, became his closest bosom friend. He never forgot that day. When he came years after to write about his hospitable friend, found that afternoon, he could remember every particular of their first meeting. We must always be grateful to John for his simple, full account of his first meeting with Jesus.
An Ideal Biography.
His simple story of that afternoon contains in it the three steps that begin all service. They looked at Jesus; they talked with Jesus; forever to the end of their lives they talked about Him. Here are the two personal contacts that underlie all service, that lead into all service. The close personal contact with Jesus begun and continued. And then personal contact with other men ever after. The first always leads to the second. The power and helpfulness of the second grow out of the first.
There is a little line in the story that may serve as a graphic biography of John the Herald. There could be no finer biography of anybody of whom it could be truly written. It is this: "Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said look." He himself was absorbed in looking. Jesus caught him from the first. He was ever looking. And he asked others to look. His whole ministry was summed up in pointing Jesus out to others.
He was ever insisting that men look at Jesus. Looking, he said "look." His lips said it, and life said it. John's presence was always spelling out that word "look," with his whole life an index finger pointing to Jesus. If we might be like that. Every man of us may be in his life, in the great unconscious influence of his presence, a clearly lettered signpost pointing men to the Master. All true service begins in personal contact with Jesus. One cannot know Him personally without catching the warm contagion of His spirit for others. And there is a fine fragrance, a gentle, soft warmth, about the service that grows out of being with Him.
The beginning of John's contact with Jesus that day, and Andrew's, was in looking. Their friend the herald bid them look. They found him looking. They did as he was doing. Following the line of his eyes, and of his teaching too, and of his life, they looked at Jesus. And as they looked the sight of their eyes began to control them. They left John and quickened their pace to get nearer to this Man at whom they were looking. There never was a finer tribute to a man's faithfulness to his Master than is found in these men leaving John. They could not help going. They had been led by John into the circle of Jesus' attractive power. And at once they are irresistibly drawn toward its center.
The basis of the truest devotion and deepest loyalty to Jesus is not in a creed but in Himself. There must be creeds. Whatever a man believes is of course his creed. Though as quickly as he puts it into words he narrows it. Truth is always more than any statement of it. Faith is always greater than our words about it. We do not see Jesus with our outer eyes as did these men in the Gospel narrative. We cannot put out our hands in any such way as Thomas did and know by the feel. We must listen first to somebody telling about Him.
We listen either with eyes on the Book, or ears open to some faithful mutual friend of His and ours. What we hear either way is a creed, somebody's belief about Jesus. So we come to Jesus first through a creed, somebody's belief, somebody's telling: so we know there is a Jesus, and are drawn to Himself. When we come to know Himself, always afterwards He is more than anything anybody ever told us, and more than we can ever tell.
The Eyes of the Heart.
Looking at Jesus—what does it mean practically? It means hearing about Him first, then actually appealing to Him, accepting His word as personal to one's self, putting Him to the test in life, trusting His death to square up one's sin score, trusting His power to clean the heart and sweeten the spirit, and stiffen the will. It means holding the whole life up to His ideals. Aye, it means more yet; something on His side, an answering look from Him. There comes a consciousness within of His love and winsomeness. That answering look of His holds us forever after His willing slaves, love's slaves. Paul speaks of the eyes of the heart. It is with these eyes we look at Him, and receive His answering look.
There are different ways of looking at Jesus, degrees in looking. Our experiences with Jesus affect the eyes of the heart. When this same John as an old man was writing that first epistle, he seems to recall his experience in looking that first day. He says "that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld." From seeing with the eyes he had gone to earnest, thoughtful gazing, caught with the vision of what he saw. That was John's own experience. It is everybody's experience that gets a look at Jesus. When the first looking sees something that catches fire within, then does the inner fire affect the eye and more is seen.
You have been in a strange city walking down the street, looking with interest at what is there. But all at once you are caught by a sign that contains a familiar name, and at once a whole flood of memories is awakened.
The little Jericho Jew peering down from the low out-reaching sycamore branch was full of curiosity to see the Man that had changed his old friend Levi Matthew so strangely. But that curiosity quickly changes into something far deeper and more tender as Jesus comes to abide in his own home.
That lonely-lifed, sore-hearted woman on the Nain road looked with startled wonder out of those wet eyes of hers as Jesus begins talking to her dead son. What love and faith must have been in her looking as Jesus with fine touch brings her boy by the hand over to her warm embrace again!
We are Changed.
Looking at Jesus changes us. Paul's famous bit in the second Corinthian letter has a wondrous tingle of gladness in it. "We all with open face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are changed from glory to glory." The change comes through our looking. The changing power comes in through the eyes. It is the glory of the Lord that is seen. The glorious Jesus looking in through our looking eyes changes us. It is gradual. It is ever more, and yet more, till by and by His own image comes out fully in our faces.
We become like those with whom we associate. A man's ideals mold him. Living with Jesus makes us look like Himself. We are familiar with the work that has been done in restoring old fine paintings. A painting by one of the rare old master painters is found covered with the dust of decades. Time has faded out much of the fine coloring and clearly marked outlines. With great patience and skill it is worked over and over. And something of the original beauty, coming to view again, fully repays the workman for all his pains.
The original image in which we were made has been badly obscured and faded out. But if we give our great Master a chance He will restore it through our eyes. It will take much patience and a skill nothing less than divine. But the original will surely come out more and more till we shall again be like the original, for we shall see Him as He is.
The old German artist Hoffmann is said to visit at intervals the royal gallery in Dresden, where he lives, to touch up his paintings there. Even so our Master, living in us, keeps touching us up that the full beauty of His ideal may be brought out.
How often a girl growing up into the fullness of her mature young womanhood calls out the remark, "You are growing more and more like your mother." And the similar remark is heard of a young man developing the traits and features of his father.
There is a law of unconscious assimilation. We become like those with whom we go. Without being conscious of it we take on the characteristics of those with whom we live. I remember one time my brother returned home for a visit after a prolonged absence. As we were walking down the street together he said to me, "You have been going with Denning a good deal"—a mutual friend of ours. Surprised, I said, "How do you know I have?" He said, "You walk just like him." What my brother had said was strictly true, though he did not know it. Our friend had a very decided way of walking. As a matter of fact, we had been walking home from the Young Men's Christian Association three or four nights every week. And unconsciously I had grown to imitate his way of walking.
That sentence of Paul's has also this meaning, "We all with open face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are changed." We stand between Him and those who don't know Him. We are the mirror catching the rays of His face and sending them down to those around. And not only do those around see the light—His light—in us, but we are being changed all the while. For others' sake as well as our own the mirror should be kept clean, and well polished so the reflection will be distinct and true.
The Outlook Changed.
Looking at Jesus changes the world for us. It is as though the light of His eyes fills our eyes and we see things all around as He sees them. Have you ever gone out, as a child, and looked intently at the sun, repressing the flinching its strength caused and insisting on looking? You could do it for a short time only. It made your eyes ache. But as you turned your eyes away from its brilliance you found everything changed. You remember a beautiful yellow glory-light was over everything, and every ugly jagged thing was softened and beautified by that glow in your eyes. Looking at the sun had changed the world for you for a little.
It is something like that on this higher plane, in this finer sense. That must have been something of Paul's thought in explaining the glory of Jesus that he saw on the Damascus road. "When I could not see for the glory of that light." The old ideals were blurred. The old ambitions faded away. The jagged, sharp lines of sacrifice and suffering involved in his new life were not clearly seen. A halo had come over them.
I recall a bit of a poem I ran across in an old magazine somewhere. It was one of those vagrant, orphan poems with fine family lineaments that find their way unfathered into odd corners of papers. It told about a man riding on horseback through a bit of timber land in one of the cotton states of the South.
It was a bright October day, and he was riding along enjoying the air and view, when all at once he came across a bit of a clearing in the trees, and in the clearing an old cabin almost fallen to pieces, and in the doorway of the cabin an old negress standing. Her back was bent nearly double with the years of hard work, her face dried up and deeply bitten with wrinkles, and her hair white. But her eyes were as bright as two stars out of the dark blue, it said.
And the man called out cheerily, "Good-morning, auntie, living here all alone?" And she looked up, with her eyes brighter yet with the thought in her heart, and in a shrill keyed-up voice said, "Jes me 'n' Jesus, massa." But he said a hush came over the whole place, there seemed a halo about the old broken-down cabin, and he thought he could see Somebody standing by her side looking over her shoulder at him, and His form was like that of the Son of God.
How poor and limited and mean her world looked to him as he rode up. But how quickly everything changed as he saw it through her seeing of it. With the keen insight into spirit things so often found in such simplicity among her race, she had gotten the whole simple philosophy of life. Her world was changed and beautiful in the loneliness of the woods by reason of her Master's presence.
This removes the commonplace at once clear out of one's life. There is no drudgery nor humdrum nor hardship, because everything is for Jesus, and seen through His eyes. Whatever comes in the pathway of his work is gladdest joy, whether an obscure narrow round of home work or shop or store, or leaving home for a strange land far across the sea with a peculiarly uncongenial spirit atmosphere. Contact with Jesus, seeing Him, changes all for us.
Talking with Jesus.
These two men in the story went from their first looking into closer contact. They looked at Jesus. Then they talked with Jesus. It was at His own request. He wanted them. He wanted their friendship and their help. Having started, it was easy for them to go. Having seen, they naturally wanted more. At least two hours they talked, maybe longer. Judging by what they did as soon as they got away, it was a most wonderful talk for them.
This Jesus took them at once. His face, His presence, His talk, Himself filled all their sky. Everything swung around into a new setting. He was its center. All things began to adjust themselves for these men about Jesus. He was irresistible to them. These two men went through some most trying experiences as a result of the friendship formed that evening hour, but these counted not in the scale with Him. They never got over the talk with Him that twilight hour.
That two hours' talk lengthened out into many another during the years immediately after. They got into the habit of referring everything to Him, and of judging everything by what He would think. It was so clear to the end of their lives. For a little over three years did they keep Him by their side actually, physically. But the habit of keeping Him there was fixed for all the longer after years. The looking at Jesus and talking with Jesus ever went side by side clear to the end of the years.
It will be so. Getting a good look at this Master draws one off into the quiet corner with the Book to listen and talk and learn more. And out of this naturally grows (if one will give a little attention to good gardening rules) the habit of talking with Him all the time. In the thick of the crowd, in the solitude of one's duties, with hands full of work, the heart talks with Him and listens, and sometimes the tongue talks out too. Our common word for it is prayer. Prayer precedes true service, and produces it, and sweetens it. Only the service that grows up naturally out of this personal contact with Jesus counts and tells and weighs for the most.
Getting Somebody Else.
These two men went away from Jesus that evening only to come back with some others. They went from talking with Him to talking with others for Him. Their personal contact was the beginning of their service. This is one of the famous personal work chapters. There are three "findeths" in it. Andrew findeth his brother Peter. That was a great find. John in his modesty doesn't speak of it, but in all likelihood he findeth James his brother. Jesus findeth Philip and Philip in turn findeth Nathaniel, the guileless man.
That word findeth is very suggestive, even to being picturesque. It tells the absence of these other men. Their whereabouts might be guessed, but were not known. There was in the searchers a purpose, and a warmth in the heart under that purpose. As Andrew looked and listened he said to himself, "Peter must hear this; Peter must see this Man." And perhaps he asks to be excused and, reaching for his hat, hastens out to get his brother and bring him back to the house. He wants more himself, but he'll get it with Peter in too. And so it would be with John likely.
Peter had to be searched for. Most men do. He was probably absorbed with all his impulsive intensity in some matter on hand. May be Andrew had to pull quite a bit to get him started. But he got him. Andrew was a good sticker: hard to shake him off. His is a fine name for a brotherhood of personal workers. And when Peter once got started he never quit going. He stumbled some, but he got up, and got up only to go on. Most men need some one to get them started. There's need of more starters, more of us starting people moving Jesus' way.
I think the memory of this evening's work with Peter must have come back very vividly to Andrew one morning a few years afterwards. It's up on the hills of Judea, in Jerusalem. There's a great crowd of people standing in the streets, filling the space for a great distance. There are some thousands of them. They are listening spellbound to a man talking. It is Peter. And down there near by, maybe holding Peter's hat while he talks, is Andrew. His eyes are glowing. And if you might listen to his heart talking, I think you would hear it saying softly, "I'm so glad I brought Peter that evening I met Jesus." Peter's talk that day swung three thousand men and women over to Jesus. Somebody has said that if Peter were their spiritual father, certainly Andrew was their spiritual grandfather. And I think God reckons the thing that way, too.
There is a great deal of good talk these days about regenerating society. It used to be that men talked about "reaching the masses." Now the other putting of it is commoner. It is helpful talk whichever way it is put. The Gospel of Jesus is to affect all society. It has affected all society, and is to more and more. But the thing to mark keenly is this, the key to the mass is the man. The way to regenerate society is to start on the individual.
The law of influence through personal contact is too tremendous to be grasped. You influence one man and you have influenced a group of men, and then a group around each man of the group, and so on endlessly. Hand-picked fruit gets the first and best market. The keenest marksmen are picked out for the sharpshooters' corps.
The True Source of Strong Service.
One morning with a friend I walked out of the city of Geneva to where the waters of the lake flow with swift rush into the Rhone. And we were both greatly interested in the strange sight which has impressed so many travellers. There are two rivers whose waters come together here, the Rhone and the Arve, the Arve flowing into the Rhone. The waters of the Rhone are beautifully clear and sparkling. The waters of the Arve come through a clayey soil and are muddy, gray, and dull. And for a long distance the two waters are wholly distinct. Two rivers of water are in one river-bed, on one side the sparkling blue Rhone water, on the other the dull gray Arve water, and the line between the two sharply defined. And so it continues for a long distance. Then gradually they blend and the gray begins to tinge all through the blue.
I went to the guide-book and maps to find out something about this river that kept on its way undefiled by its neighbor for so long. Its source is in a glacier that is between ten thousand and eleven thousand feet high, descending "from the gates of eternal night, at the foot of the pillar of the sun." It is fed continually by the melting glacier which, in turn, is being kept up by the snows and cold. Rising at this great height, ever being renewed steadily by the glacier, it comes rushing down the swift descent of the Swiss Alps through the lake of Geneva and on. There is the secret of purity, side by side with its dirty neighbor.
Our lives must have their source high up in the mountains of God, fed by a ceaseless supply. Only so can there be the purity, and the momentum that shall keep us pure, and keep us moving down in contact with men of the earth. And we must keep closer to the source than is the Rhone at Geneva, else the streams flowing alongside will unduly influence us. Constant personal contact with Jesus is the beginning ever new of service.
The Triple Life: The Perspective of Service.
On An Errand for Jesus. The Parting Message. A Secret Life of Prayer. An Open Life of Purity. An Active Life of Service. The Perspective of True Service. A Long Time Coming.
The Triple Life: The Perspective of Service.
(Luke ix:1-6; x:1-3, 17; John xx:19-23; Matthew xxviii:18-20.)
On An Errand for Jesus.
You remember there were four times that Jesus picked out a group of men, and sent them on a special errand. About the middle of the second year of His public life, He chose out twelve men and commissioned them for a special bit of work. Six months before the tragic end, He chose seventy others and sent them out in twos into all the places He was planning to visit Himself. It was a remarkable campaign for carrying the news which He was preaching into all the villages of that whole country through which His journey south lay.
Then the evening of that never-to-be-forgotten resurrection day, under wholly changed conditions, He again commissions ten men of that first twelve. Things had radically changed with Jesus. And there had been a bad break in the loyalty of these men. Two of their number are absent. Judas has gone to his own place, and Thomas was not there that evening. His absence cost him a week of doubting and mental distress. Ten of the old inner circle are commissioned anew. And then do you remember the last time they were together? It was about six weeks later, on the rounded top of the old Olives Mount, the eleven men with the Master. Four times He commissioned a group of men for some service He wanted done.
There are two things in these four commissions that make them alike. The same two things are in each. The first thing is this: they are bidden to "go." That ringing word "go ye" is in, each time. "As the Father hath sent Me even so send I you." It is a familiar word to every follower of Jesus then, and now, and always. A true follower of His always is stirred by a spirit of "go." A going Christian is a growing Christian. A going church has always been a growing church. Those ages when the church lost the vision of her Master's face on Olives, and let other sounds crowd out of her ears the sound of His voice, were stagnant ages. They are commonly spoken of in history as the dark ages. "Go" is the ringing keynote of the Christian life, whether in a man or in the church.
The second thing found always in each of these commissions is this: they were qualified, or empowered to go. Whom God calls He always qualifies. Where His voice comes His Spirit breathes. If there has come to you some bit of a call to service, to teach a class, or write a special letter, or speak a word, or take up something needing to be done. And you hesitate. You think that you cannot. You are not fit, you think, not qualified. The thing to do is to do it.
If the call is clear go ahead. Need is one of the strong calling voices of God. It is always safe to respond. Put out your foot in the answering swing, even though you cannot see clearly the place to put it down. God attends to that part. Power comes as we go.
The Parting Message.
Just now I want to talk with you a bit about the last one of these commissions, the Olivet commission. I do not know just what day it was given or at what hour. But I have thought it was in the twilight of a Sabbath evening. There's a yellow glow of light filling all the western sky running along the broken line of those hills yonder, and through the trees, and in upon this group of men standing.
Here in full view lies little Bethany fragrant with memories of Jesus' power. Over yonder, those tree tops down in a bit of valley with the brook—that is Gethsemane. And farther over there is the fortress city of Jerusalem. And just outside its wall is the bit of a knoll called Calvary. Here under these trees every night that last week of the tragedy Jesus had slept out in the open, with His seamless coat wrapped about Him. This is the spot He chooses for the good-by word. It is full of most precious, fragrant memories.
Here is the man who has been Simon, but out of whom a new man was coming these days, Peter, the man of rock. And here are John and James, sons of fire and of thunder, sons of their mother. And there, little Scotch Andrew. At least our Scotch friends seem to have adopted him as their very own. And close by his side is his friend with the Greek name, Philip. And here the man to whom Jesus paid the great tribute of naming him the guileless man.
And the others, not so well known to us, but very well known to Jesus, and to be not a whit less faithful than their brothers these coming days. But somehow as you look you are at once irresistibly drawn past these to Him—the Man in the midst. The Man with the great face, torn with the thorns, and cut with the thongs, but shining with a sweet, wondrous, beauty light.
It is the last time they are together. He is going away; coming back soon, they understand. They do not know just how soon. But meanwhile in His absence they are to be as He Himself would be if He remained among men. They are to stand for Him. And so with eyes fixed on His face they look, and listen, and wonder a bit, just what the last word will be.
What would you expect it to be? It was the good-by word between men who were lovers, dearest friends. The tenderest thing would be said and the most important. The one going away would speak of that which lay closest down in His own heart. And whatever He might say would sink deepest into their hearts, and control their action in the after days.
He had been talking to them very insistently, about an hour before, down in the city, about waiting there until the Holy Spirit came upon them. And that word has fastened itself into their minds with newly sharpened hooks of steel points. Now He talks about their being His witnesses, here at home among their own folks, and out among their half-breed Samaritan neighbors, whom they didn't like, and then—with eyes looking yearningly out and finger pointing steadily out—to the farthest reach of the planet. And now, as He is about to go, this is the word that comes from those lips:
"All power hath been given unto Me. Therefore go ye, And make disciples of all nations."
A Secret Life of Prayer.
There are four things in that good-by word. Three are directly spoken, and one is not spoken, but directly implied. First is this, your chief work is to win men. That is directly said. The second is implied—it is the toughest task you ever undertook. That is implied in this that it will take more power than they have. A power that only He has. A supernatural power. And we all know how true that is. Of all luggage man is the hardest to move. He won't move unless he will. Every man of us that has ever tried to change somebody's else purpose knows how impossible it is unless by the inward pull. You simply cannot without the man's consent. The third thing is this: I have all the power needed. The fourth this: You go.
And the Master meant to tell them, and to tell us, this: that a man should lead a triple life, three lives in one. We sometimes hear of a man leading a double life in a bad sense. In a good sense, every one of us should be living a triple life, three distinct lives in one. The first of these three lives is this: a secret life, lived with Jesus, hidden from the eyes of men. An inner life of closest contact with Him, that the outside folks know nothing about.
Notice again the four statements in that good-by word. Your chief concern is to win men. It is the toughest task you ever undertook: it will take supernatural power. I have all the power you need. Instinctively you feel as though the fourth thing should be, "I will go." That would seem to be the logical conclusion. "No," Jesus says, "you go." Plainly if we are to do something taking supernatural power, and we haven't any such power of ourselves, there must be the closest kind of contact with the source of power. The man who is to go must be in the most intimate contact with the Man who has the powers needed in the going.
And this is simply a law of all life, given to us here by life's greatest Philosopher. The seen depends upon the secret always. The outer keys upon the inner. The life that men see depends wholly upon the life that only the Master sees. David had power to slay the lion and bear in secret, away from the gaze of men, before he had power to slay the giant before the wondering eyes of two nations. The closet becomes the swivel of the street.
In crossing the ocean there are two great dangers to be dreaded and guarded against, aside from the storms that may arise. The greater of these is an abandoned ship. One that through some stress of storm has been left by the sailors in the attempt to save their lives. It is most dangerous because it sends no warning ahead of its presence. In crossing the Atlantic by the more northern routes the other danger is from the icebergs that may be met in the steamer's path. If a fog obscure the lookout the boat is slowed down, and a man kept busy with line and thermometer taking the temperature of the water. The iceberg is kindlier than the derelict, in the chill it sends out. The presence of the danger can so be detected, and measures taken to avoid it.
But the great danger here is not simply in the huge mountain of ice that you see looming up against the sky, great as that is. It is in the unseen ice. Hidden away below is a mountain of ice twice as large and heavy as that seen above the water's surface. The danger lies in the terrific force of a blow from this hidden pile that would crush the strongest steel steamer, as I might crush an egg-shell in my fingers.
We all admire the beauty of the trees that rear their heads, and send out their branches, and make the world so beautiful with their soft green foliage. But have you thought of the twin tree, the unseen tree that belongs to these we see? For every tree that grows up and out with its beauty and fruit there is another. The twin tree goes down and out.
Sometimes, as far as this we see goes up, the other goes down; as far as the branches go out so far do the underneath branches go out, sometimes farther. This unseen tree is ever busy drawing moisture, and food from the soil and sending it, ceaselessly sending it, up to the upper tree. The beauty and fruitfulness above are because of this secret life of the tree.
I remember as a boy going to the bathroom in our home one day to draw some water. But none came. There were a few drops, and some sputtering—there's very apt to be sputtering when there is nothing else—but no flow of water. And I wondered why. Soon I found that the main pipe in the street was being fixed, and the water had been cut off at the curb. There was water in the pipe clear from the curbstone up to the spigot, but I could not get it because the reservoir connection under the ground had been turned off.
I have met some people since then that made me think of that. There is a reservoir of water, clear and sweet, with which they have had connection, and are supposed still to have. But when some thirsty body comes up for a bit of refreshment, there's some sputtering, some noise, may be a few stray drops—but no more. And folks seem thirstier because they were expecting a cool, satisfying drink that never came.
I think I know why it is so. The secret connection with the reservoir has been tampered with. There must be the secret contact with Jesus cultivated habitually if there is to be a sweet, strong outer life. And not cultivated by hothouse methods. Such plants won't stand the chilly air outside the glass-house. Cultivated by natural, simple contact with Jesus, over His Word, habitually, until everything comes under the influence of that secret life.
One day a man was standing on a busy downtown thoroughfare in Cleveland waiting for a car. There was a thick, dirty wire hanging down from the cross arm high up of the wire pole. He happened to stop there. And absorbed in thought, he mechanically put out his hand and took hold of the wire. Instantly a look of intense agony came into his face. His arm, and whole body began twisting and writhing. Then he fell to the ground lifeless. The dirty-looking wire had direct connections with the power-house. It was throbbing with a strong current. It was a "live" wire.
Some men who have seemed quite unattractive in the light of some modern standards have been found on touch to be charged with a life current of tremendous power. And some others, outwardly more attractive, have been found to be as powerless as a dead wire. And some there have been, and are, very winsome and attractive in themselves, and charged with the life current too. The great thing is the secret connections carefully maintained with the source of power.
There must be the closest kind of touch with God if His plan through us for a planet is to carry out. We do not run on the storage battery plan, but on the trolley plan, or the third rail. There must be constant full touch with the feed wire or rail. And that "must" should be spelled in capitals, and printed in red, and triply underscored.
A man must plan for the bit of quiet time daily, preferably in the early morning, alone with Jesus; with the door shut, the Book open, the spirit quiet, the mind alert, the knee bent, the will bent too. If it be resolutely planned for it can be gotten in every life. If not planned for with a bit of red iron in the will, it will surely slip out. And the man will surely slip down.
Here is found the spirit in which a man may live all the day long, wherever his feet may tread, in the fierce competition of trade, or in the deadly enervation of some society circles. Out of such a man shall breathe, all unconsciously to himself, an atmosphere fragrant as a mountain breeze over a field of wild roses. This is the first life Jesus bids us live.
An Open Life of Purity.
The second life we are to live is the exact reverse of this. It is indeed the outer side of this: an open life of purity lived among men for Jesus. Note again the logic of that good-by word. Your chief business is to be down there in the thick of the crowd, winning men out of the dust and dirt up into a new life of purity. It is the hardest job any man ever undertook. It is practically impossible unless you have a power quite more than human. Jesus quietly says, "I have the power that will do it."
Again you feel that He must say next, "I will go." The thing must be done. It is the one thing worth while. It will require a power we haven't. He has it. You feel as though He must do the going. "No," He says, with great emphasis. "You go. You be I; you live my life over again, down there among men." The "Ye" and "Me" in that sentence are meant to be interchangeable words.
He is asking us to live His life over again among men. No, it is more than that. He is asking us to let Him live His life over again in each of us. The Man with the power that men can't resist would reach out to them through us. He would be touching them in us. Jesus said, "As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." He said again, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Jesus embodied the Father to men. He asks us to take His place and embody Himself to men.
Paul understood this thoroughly. In writing to the friends throughout Galatia, whom he had won up to Jesus, he says, "I have been crucified with Christ." There is an old dead "I." "Nevertheless I live." There is a new living "I." "Yet not I—the old I—but Christ liveth in me." He was the new I. There was a new personality within Paul. I never weary of recalling what Martin Luther said about that verse in the comment he made on Galatians. You remember he said, "If somebody should knock at my heart's door, and ask who lives here, I must not say 'Martin Luther lives here.' I would say 'Martin Luther—is—dead—Jesus—Christ—lives—here.'"
I wonder if any of us has ever been taken for Jesus. I wonder if anybody has ever mistaken any of us for Him. You remember, He used to move among men after the resurrection, and while they would feel the gentle winsomeness of His presence and talk, they did not recognize Him. Has somebody run across you or me sometime, and been with us a little while, and then gone away saying to himself, "I wonder if that was Jesus back again in disguise. He seemed so much like what I think Jesus must have been—I wonder."
Well, if it were so, of course we would not be conscious of it. A Jesus-man is never absorbed in thinking about himself. He is taken up with Jesus, and with folks. A man is always least conscious of the power of his own presence and life. Everybody else knows more about it than he does. Plainly this is the Master's plan for each of us. And more, it is the result when He is allowed free sway.
The controlling principle of His life was to please His Father. The pervading purpose and passion was to win men out and up. The characteristics of His life were purity, unselfishness, sympathy, and simplicity. We are to be as He. He was the Father to all the race of men. Each of us is to be Jesus to his circle.
Please notice I'm not talking about lips just now but about lives. The life is the indorsement of the lips. It makes the words of the lips more than they sound or seem. Or, it makes them less, sometimes pitiably less, little more than a discount clerk ever busily at work. The words ever go to the level of the life, up or down. Water seeks its level persistently. So do one's words, and they find it more quickly than the water, for they go through all obstructions. And the life is the leveler of the words, up or down.
So far as this second life is concerned a man's lips might be sealed, and his tongue dumb, but his life in its purity and simplicity, its unselfishness and sympathetic warmness will ever be spelling out Jesus. And He will be spelled out so big and plain that the man hurriedly running, or lazily creeping, or half blind in a cloud of dust, will be stopping and reading. If there were but more re-incarnations of Jesus how folks would be coming a-running to Him.
Do you remember that prayer in blank verse of the old Scottish preacher and poet and saint, Horatius Bonar? He said:
"Oh, turn me, mould me, mellow me for use. Pervade my being with Thy vital force, That this else inexpressive life of mine May become eloquent and full of power, Impregnated with life and strength divine. Put the bright torch of heaven into my hand, That I may carry it aloft And win the eye of weary wanderers here below To guide their feet into the paths of peace. I cannot raise the dead, Nor from this soil pluck precious dust, Nor bid the sleeper wake, Nor still the storm, nor bend the lightning back, Nor muffle up the thunder, Nor bid the chains fall from off creation's long enfettered limbs. But I can live a life that tells on other lives, And makes this world less full of anguish and of pain; A life that like the pebble dropped upon the sea Sends its wide circles to a hundred shores. May such a life be mine. Creator of true life, Thyself the life Thou givest, Give Thyself, that Thou mayst dwell in me, and I in Thee."
An Active Life of Service.
The third life is a life of active service, of aggressive earnestness in winning men. I say aggressive. That word does not mean noise and dust, shuffling of feet, and bustling confusion. It means rather the steady, steady movement of the sun which noiselessly, dustlessly, moves onward, hour after hour, day in and day out, regardless of any storms, or disturbances. It means the quiet, peaceful, but resistless uninterrupted movement of the moon rising night after night, and going through its circle of action. Earnestness means the burning of the inner spirit. Its fires dim not, for they are fed continually from secret sources.
This third life is spoken of directly: "Go ye and make disciples." The going is to be continued until folks farthest away have heard. Some people are bounded by the horizon of the town where they live, some by the particular church to which they belong, some the denomination, some the state, or even the nation. Jesus fixes the horizon of His follower as that of the world. Jesus was visionary. He talked about all nations, a race, a world.
All are to go. They are to go to all. Some may be made wholly free, by arrangement with their fellow-followers, to give their full strength and time to the direct going and telling. These are highly favored in privilege. Some of these may go to deserted darkened places in the home land. Some may go to the city slum, which in its dire need is of close kin to the foreign-mission land. These are yet more highly favored in privilege.
Some may go to those far distant lands where Jesus is not known, where the need of Him is so pathetically great. These are the most highly favored in the privilege of service accorded them. Many others have been left free of the necessity of earning bread and home and clothing and so have a rare opportunity of devoting themselves to the going, as the Spirit of Jesus guides. Many are given the talent to earn easily, and so, if they will, may give much strength to service.
The great majority everywhere and always are absorbed for most of the waking hours of the day in earning something to eat, and something to wear, and somewhere to sleep. Yet where there is the warm touch with Jesus there will come the yearning for purity, and the life of service. With these as with all there may be the service, strong and sweetly fragrant. There is always some bit of spare time, with planning, that can be used in direct service in church, or school, or mission. And the secret life of prayer will give a steadiness that will guard against the over-use of one's strength.
There can be a personal going to some in words tactfully spoken. There is the life of sweet purity and gentle patience always so winsome, that speaks all the time in musical tones to one's circle. There is an enormous, unconscious aggressiveness about such a life. Then there can be the going through gold. And the entire planet can be brought under one's thumb of influence through the strangely simple power of prayer.
I have been running across some new versions of this last word of Jesus. A sort of re-revisions they are. I have not found them in the common print, but printed in lives, the lives of men. The print is large, chiefly capitals, easily read. These lives are so noisy as to quite shut out what the lips may be saying. There are variations in these translations.
Sometime the message is made to read like this: "All power hath been given unto Me, therefore go ye, and make—coins of gold—oh, belong to church of course—that is proper and has many advantages—and give too. There are advantages about that—give freely, or make it seem freely—give to missions at home and abroad. That is regarded as a sure sign of a liberal spirit. But be careful about the proportion of your giving. For the real thing that counts at the year's end is how much you have added to the stock of dollars in your grasp. These other things are good, but—merely incidental. This thing of getting gold is the main drive."
Please understand me, I never heard any of these folks talk in this blunt way with their tongues. So far as I can hear, they are saying something quite different. But what their tongues are saying is made indistinct and blurred by some noise near by.
Other translations I have run across have this variation: "Make a place for yourself, in your profession, in society. Make a comfortable living;—with a wide margin of meaning to that word 'comfortable'—belong to the church, become a pillar, or at least move in the pillar's circle, give of course, even freely in appearance, but remember these are the dust in the scale, the other is the thing that weighs. All of one's energies must be centered on the main thing."
May I ask you to listen very quietly, while I repeat the Master's own words over very softly and clearly, so that they may get into the inner cockles of our hearts anew? "All power hath been given unto Me; therefore go ye, and make disciples of all nations." These other translations are wrong. They are misleading. The one main thing is influencing men for Jesus.
The Perspective of True Service.
It is not the only thing by any means. There is a multitude of things perfectly proper and that must be done and well done. But through all their doing is to run this one strong purpose. These other things are details, important details, indispensably important, yet details. The other is the one main thing toward which the doing of all the others is to bend and blend.
Please mark keenly that there are three lives here; three in one. The secret life of prayer, the open life of purity, the active life of service Not one, nor the other, not any two, but all three, this is the true ideal. This is the true rounded life. And note sharply that this gives the true perspective of service. The service life grows up out of the other two. Its roots lie down in prayer and purity. This explains why so much service is fruitless. It isn't rooted. There is no rich subsoil.
It seems to be a part of the hurt of sin that men do not keep the proportion of things balanced, and never have. In former days men shut themselves up behind great walls that they might be pleasing to God. They shut out the noise that they might have quiet to pray. They thought to shut out the sin that they might be pure, forgetting that they carried it in with them.
In our day things have swung clean over to the other extreme. Now all is activity. The emphasis of the time is upon doing. There is a lot of running around, and rushing around. There is a great deal of activity that seems inseparable from dust. The wheels make such a lot of noise as they go around. Doing that does not root down in the secret touch with Jesus, may be quite vigorous for a time, but soon leaves behind as its only memory withered up branches. This is a practical age, we are constantly told. Things must be judged by the standard of usefulness. That is surely true, and good, but there is very serious danger that the true perspective of service be lost in the dust that is being raised.
The imprint of this disproportion or lack of proportion can even be found in the theological teaching of long ago and now. At one time religion was defined as having to do with a man's relation to God. That was emphasized to the utter hiding away of all else. In our own day the swing is clear over to the other side. Definitions of religion that make everything of helping one's brother and fellow, are the popular thing. There seems to be a sort of astigmatism that keeps us from seeing things straight. Though always there have been those that saw straight and lived truly.
Mark keenly that true touch with God always brings the longing to be pure, and the loving of one's fellow. The nearer one gets to God the nearer will he find himself getting to men. Often we find ourselves getting new wonderful glimpses of God as we are eagerly helping somebody. Up seems to include out, as though the line that drew us up to God led through men. Yet with that always goes the other fact that touch with God makes one long to be alone with Him.
There are always the three turnings of a true life, upward, inward, outward. Upward to God, inward to self, outward to the world. The more one knows God the keener is the longing to get off with Himself alone, the deeper is the yearning to be pure, and the stronger is the passion to help others regardless of any sacrifice involved.
A Long Time Coming.
There is an old story that caught fire in my heart the first time it came to me, and burns anew at each memory of it. It told of a time in the southern part of our country when the sanitary regulations were not so good as of late. A city was being scourged by a disease that seemed quite beyond control. The city's carts were ever rolling over the cobble-stones, helping carry away those whom the plague had slain.
Into one very poor home, a laboring man's home, the plague had come. And the father and children had been carried out until on the day of this story there remained but two, the mother and her baby boy of perhaps five years. The boy crept up into his mother's lap, put his arms about her neck, and with his baby eyes so close, said, "Mother, father's dead, and brothers and sister are dead;—if you die, what'll I do?"
The poor mother had thought of it, of course, What could she say? Quieting her voice as much as possible, she said, "If I die, Jesus will come for you." That was quite satisfactory to the boy. He had been taught about Jesus, and felt quite safe with Him, and so went about his play on the floor. And the boy's question proved only too prophetic. And quick work was done by the dread disease. And soon she was being laid away by strange hands.
It is not difficult to understand that in the sore distress of the time the boy was forgotten. When night came, he crept into bed, but could not sleep. Late in the night he got up, found his way out along the street, down the road, in to where he had seen the men put her. And throwing himself down on the freshly shoveled earth, sobbed and sobbed until nature kindly stole consciousness away for a time.
Very early the next morning a gentleman coming down the road from some errand of mercy, looked over the fence, and saw the little fellow lying there. Quickly suspecting some sad story, he called him, "My boy, what are you doing there?—My boy, wake up, what are you doing there all alone?" The boy waked up, rubbed his baby eyes, and said, "Father's dead, and brothers and sister's dead, and now—mother's—dead—too. And she said, if she did die, Jesus would come for me. And He hasn't come. And I'm so tired waiting." And the man swallowed something in his throat, and in a voice not very clear, said, "Well, my boy, I've come for you." And the little fellow waking up, with his baby eyes so big, said "I think you've been a long time coming."
Whenever I read these last words of Jesus or think of them, there comes up a vision that floods out every other thing. It is of Jesus Himself standing on that hilltop. His face is all scarred and marred, thorn-torn and thong-cut. But it is beautiful, passing all beauty of earth, with its wondrous beauty light. Those great eyes are looking out so yearningly, out as though they were seeing men, the ones nearest and those farthest. His arm is outstretched with the hand pointing out. And you cannot miss the rough jagged hole in the palm. And He is saying, "Go ye." The attitude, the scars, the eyes looking, the hand pointing, the voice speaking, all are saying so intently, "Go ye."
And as I follow the line of those eyes, and the hand, there comes up an answering vision. A great sea of faces that no man ever yet has numbered, with answering eyes and outstretching hands. From hoary old China, from our blood-brothers in India, from Africa where sin's tar stick seems to have blackened blackest, from Romanized South America, and the islands, aye from the slums, and frontiers, and mountains in the homeland, and from those near by, from over the alley next to your house maybe, they seem to come. And they are rubbing their eyes, and speaking. With lives so pitifully barren, with lips mutely eloquent, with the soreness of their hunger, they are saying, "You're a long time coming."
Shall we go? Shall we not go? But how shall we best go? By keeping in such close touch with Jesus that the warm throbbing of His heart is ever against our own. Then will come a new purity into our lives as we go out irresistibly attracted by the attraction of Jesus toward our fellows. And then too shall go out of ourselves and out of our lives and service, a new supernatural power touching men. It is Jesus within reaching men through us.
Yokefellows: The Rhythm of Service.
The Master's Invitation. Surrender a Law of Life, Free Surrender. "Him." Yoked Service. In Step With Jesus. The Scar-marks of Surrender. Full Power Through Rhythm. He Is Our Peace. The Master's Touch.
Yokefellows: The Rhythm of Service.
(Matthew xi. 25-30; Luke x:1, 17, 21-24.)
The Master's Invitation.
It was about six months before the tragic end that Jesus sent out thirty-five deputations of two each. He was beginning that slow memorable journey south that ended finally at the cross. These men are sent ahead to prepare the way. By and by they return and make a glad exultant report of the good results attending their work. Even the demons had acknowledged the power of Jesus' name on their lips.
As He was listening Jesus looked up, and said, "Father, I thank Thee." And then, as though He could see those great crowds to whom they had been ministering in His name, He said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
There are two invitations here, "come" and "take." There are two sorts of people. Those who are tugging and straining at work, and carrying heavy burdens, and then those who have received rest, and are now asked to go a step farther. There are two kinds of rest, a given rest, and a found rest. The given rest cannot be found. It comes as a sheer out gift, from Jesus' own hand. The found rest cannot be given, may I say? It comes stealing its gentle way in as one fits into Jesus' plan for his life.
Many folks have accepted the first of these invitations. They have "come" to Jesus, and received sweet rest from His hand. But they have gone no farther. At the close of that first invitation there is a punctuation period, a full stop. Some of the old schoolbooks used to say that one should stop at a period and count four. Well, a great many people have followed that old rule here, and more than followed. They have stopped at that period, and never gotten past it. I want just now to ask you to come with me as we talk together a bit about this second invitation, "Take My yoke."
Jesus used several different words in tying people up to Himself. There is a growth in them, as He draws us nearer and nearer. First always is the invitation "Come unto Me." That means salvation, life. Then He says, "Follow Me," "Come after Me." That means discipleship. "Learn of Me" means training in discipleship. "Yoke up with Me" means closest fellowship. "Abide in Me" leads one out into abundant life. "As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you," means living Jesus' life over again. And then the last "Go ye" is the outer reach of all, service for a world.
Surrender a Law of Life.
Just now we want to talk together over this little three-worded sentence from Jesus' lips, "Take My yoke." What does it mean? Well, that word yoke is used in all literature outside of this book, as well as here, to mean this: surrender by one and mastery by another one. Where two nations have fought and the weaker has been forced to yield, it is quite commonly spoken of as wearing the yoke of the stronger nation. The Romans required their prisoners of war to pass under a yoke, sometimes a common cattle yoke, sometimes an improvised yoke, to indicate their utter subjugation. These Hebrews to whom Jesus is speaking are writhing with sore shoulders under the galling yoke of the Romans. One can imagine an emphasis placed on the "My." As though Jesus would say, "You have one yoke now; change yokes. Take My yoke."
There is too a higher, finer meaning to this surrender when by mutual arrangement and free consent there is a yielding of one to another for a purpose. And so what Jesus means here is simply this—surrender. Bend your head down, bend down your neck, even though it's a bit stiff going your own way, and fit it into this yoke of mine. Surrender to Me as your Master.
And somebody says, "I don't like that. 'Surrender!' that sounds like force. I thought salvation was free." Will you please remember that the principle of surrender is a law of all life. It is the law of military life, inside the army. Every man there has surrendered to the officers above him. In some armies that surrender has amounted to absolute control of a man's person and property by the head of the army. It is the law of naval service. The moment a man steps on board a man-of-war to serve he surrenders the control of his life and movements absolutely to the officer in command.
It is the law in public, political life. A man entering the President's cabinet, as a secretary of some department, surrenders any divergent views he may have to those of his chief. With the largest freedom of thought that must always be where there are strong men, yet there must of necessity be the one dominant will if the administration is to be a powerful one. It is the law of commercial life. The man entering the employ of a bank, a manufacturing concern, a corporation of any sort, in whatever capacity, enters to do the will of somebody else. Always there must be the one dominant will if there is to be power and success.
And then may I hush my voice and speak of the more sacred things very softly and remind you of this. Surrender is the law of the highest form of life known to us men. I mean wedded life. Where the surrender is not by one to the other, but by each to the other. Two wills, always two wills where there is strong life, yet in effect but one. Two persons but only one purpose.
And so you see, Jesus, the Master, the greatest of earth's teachers and philosophers, is striking the keynote of life when here He asks us to surrender freely and wholly to Himself as the autocrat of our lives. He asks us to bend our strong wills to His, to yield our lives, our plans, our ambitions, our friendships, our gold, absolutely to His control.
And if you still do not like the sound of that word surrender. It has a harsh sound that grates upon your nerves. Will you please notice the first word of that little sentence—"Take." Jesus does not say in sharp, hard tones, "Come here; bend down; I'll put this yoke on you." Never that. If you will, of your own glad accord, freely, winsomely take the yoke upon you—that is what He asks. In military usage surrender is forced. Here it must be free. Nothing else would be acceptable to Jesus.
When our commissioners went a few years ago to Paris to treat with the Spaniards, the latter are said to have desired certain changes in the language of the protocol. With the polished suavity for which they are noted the Spaniards urged that there be made slight changes in the words: no real change in the meaning, they said, simply in the verbiage. And our Judge Day at the head of the American Commissioners, listened politely and patiently until the plea was presented. And then he quietly said, "The article will be signed as it reads." And the Spaniards protested, with much courtesy. The change asked for was trivial, merely in the language, not in the force of the words. And our men listened patiently and courteously. Then Mr. Day is said to have locked his little square jaw and replied very quietly, "The article will be signed as it reads." And the article was so signed. That is military usage. The surrender was forced. The strength of the American fleets, the prestige of great victory were back of the quiet man's demand.
But that is not the law here. Jesus asks for only what we give freely and spontaneously. He does not want anything except what is given with a free, glad heart. This is to be a voluntary surrender. Jesus is a voluntary Saviour. He wants only voluntary followers. He would have us be as Himself. The oneness of spirit leads the way into the intimacy of closest friendship. And that is His thought for us.
Do you remember those fine lines, "The quality of mercy is not strained"—if the thing be forced through a strainer, there is no mercy there—"it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath." Only what the warm current of His love draws out does Jesus desire from us. It is to be a free surrender.
And if you still knit your mental brows, and shrug your shoulder. The thing hasn't yet shaken off the harshness you have been clothing it with. Please notice the second word of that sentence—"My." "Take My Yoke." May I say gently but frankly that I would not surrender the control of my life to any of you who are listening so kindly. And I surely would not ask that I should be the autocrat of any of your lives. But—when—Jesus comes along. The Man with the marvelous face all torn and scarred, but with that great, soft, shining light. I do not know just how all of you feel. I can guess how some of you feel. But I know one man who cannot respond too quickly and eagerly. The only thing to do is to make the will as strong as it can be made, and then to use all of its strength in surrendering eagerly to this matchless Man Jesus. Doubtless many of you know fully that same eagerness, and maybe more.
I remember a simple story that twined its clinging tendril lingers about my heart. It was of a woman whose long years had ripened her hair, and sapped her strength. She was a true saint in her long life of devotion to God. She knew the Bible by heart, and would repeat long passages from memory. But as the years came the strength went, and with it the memory gradually went too, to her grief. She seemed to have lost almost wholly the power to recall at will what had been stored away.
But one precious bit still stayed. She would sit by the big sunny window of the sitting room in her home, repeating over that one bit, as though chewing a delicious titbit, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." By and by part of that seemed to slip its hold, and she would quietly be repeating, "that which I have committed to Him."
The last few weeks as the ripened old saint hovered about the border land between this and the spirit world her feebleness increased. Her loved ones would notice her lips moving. And thinking she might be needing some creature comfort they would go over and bend down to listen for her request. And time and again they found the old saint repeating over to herself one word, over and over again, the same one word, "Him—Him—Him." She had list the whole Bible but one word. But she had the whole Bible in that one word. Did she not? This is a surrender to Him, the Man of the Book. The Man of all life.
They tell me that on a farm the yoke means service. Cattle are yoked to serve, and to serve better, and to serve more easily. This is a surrender for service, not for idleness. In military usage surrender often means being kept in enforced idleness and under close guard. But this is not like that. It is all up on a much higher plane. Jesus has every man's life planned. It always awes me to recall that simple tremendous fact. With loving strong thoughtfulness He has thought into each of our lives, and planned it out, in whole, and in detail. He comes to a man and says, "I know you. I have been thinking about you." Then very softly—"I—love—you. I need you, for a plan of Mine. Please let Me have the control of your life and all your power, for My plan." It is a surrender for service.
It is yoked service. There are two bows or loops to a yoke. A yoke in action has both sides occupied, and as surely as I bow down My head and slip it into the bow on one side—I know there is Somebody else on the other side. It is yoked living now, yoked fellowship, yoked service. It is not working for God now. It is working with Him. Jesus never sends anybody ahead alone. He treads down the pathway through every thicket, pushes aside the thorn-bushes, and clears the way, and then says with that taking way of His, "Come along with Me. Let's go together, you and I."
A man got up in a meeting to speak. It was down in Rhode Island, out a bit from Providence. He was a farmer, an old man. He had become a Christian late in life, and this evening was telling about his start. He had been a rough, bad man. He said that when he became a Christian even the cat knew that some change had taken place. That caught my ear. It had a genuine ring. It seemed prophetic of the better day coming for all the lower animal creation. So I listened.
He said that the next morning after the change of purpose he was going down to the village a little distance from his farm. He swung along the road, happy in heart, singing softly to himself, and thinking about the Saviour. All at once he could feel the fumes coming out of a saloon ahead. He couldn't see the place yet, but his keen trained nose felt it. The odors came out strong, and gripped him.
He said he was frightened, and wondered how he would get by. He had never gone by before, he said; always gone in; but he couldn't go in now. But what to do, that was the rub. Then he smiled, and said, "I remembered, and I said, 'Jesus, you'll have to come along and help me get by, I never can by myself.'" And then in his simple, illiterate way he said, "and He come—and we went by, and we've been going by ever since."
Ah, the old Rhode Island farmer had found the whole simple philosophy of the true life. Our Yokefellow is always there alongside. Every temptation that comes to us He has felt the sharp edge of, and can overcome. Every problem, every difficulty, every opportunity He knows, and is right there, swinging in rhythmic step alongside. It's yoked living and yoked service.
In Step with Jesus.
Then please mark keenly that this surrender is for surrendered service. No free-lancing here. No guerrilla warfare, no bushwhacking. There seems to be quite a lot of that, in this army. Some earnest folks are very busy "helping God out," regardless of the general movement of the whole army. And a great help they are too—they think. It would be difficult to see how God would ever get along without them—they seem to think. Poor folks, they have gotten so covered with the dust made by their own feet that they've completely lost track of things. There is a Lord to this harvest. There is a great Commander-in-chief to this campaign. He has the whole campaign for a world carefully planned out. And each man's part in it is planned too. He knows best what needs to be done. He sees keenly the strategic points, and the emergencies. If only He could but depend on our ears being trained to know His voice, and our wills trained to simple, full obedience, how much difference it would make to Him. Simple, full strong obedience seems to take the keenest intelligence, the strongest will, and the most thorough discipline.
"Just to ask Him what to do, All the day. And to make you quick and true To obey."
This surrender is for glad, obedient surrendered service.
And note too that it is for training in service. They tell me that where cattle are yoked for work it is usual to put a young restive beast with an old, steady-going animal. The old worker sets the pace, and pulls evenly, steadily ahead, and by and by the young undisciplined beast gradually comes to learn the pace. That seems to fit in here with graphic realness. So many of us seem to be full of an undisciplined unseasoned strength. There are apt to be some hard drives ahead, and then pulling back with a sudden jerk, and side lunges this way and that. There is splendid strength, and eager willingness, but not much is accomplished for lack of the steady, steady going regardless of rocks or ruts.
Jesus says, "Yoke up with Me. Let's pull together, you and I." And if we will pull steadily along, content to be by His side, and to be hearing His quiet voice, and always to keep His pace, step by step with Him, without regard to seeing results, all will be well, and by and by the best results and the largest will be found to have come. And remember that as on the farm, so here, the yoke is always carefully adjusted so that the young learner may have the easier pulling.
But it is well to put in this bit of a caution. If a man put his head into the yoke, and then pull back—well, there'll be a man with a badly chafed, sore neck in that neighborhood, and oil will be in demand. The one safe rule is swinging straight ahead, steady, steady, without even stopping to decide if the plow has cut properly, or if it is worth while.
The Scar-marks of Surrender.
Then Jesus adds this: "Learn of Me." I used to wonder just what that means. But I think I know a part of its meaning now. You remember the Hebrews had a scheme of qualified slavery. A man might sell his service for six years but at the end of that time he was scot-free. On the New Year's morning of the seventh year he was given his full liberty, and given some grain and oil to begin life with anew.
But if on that morning he found himself reluctant to leave, all his ties binding him to his master's home, this was the custom among them. He would say to his master, "I don't want to leave you. This is home to me. I love you and the mistress. I love the place. All my ties and affections are here. I want to stay with you always." His master would say, "Do you mean this?" "Yes," the man would reply, "I want to belong to you forever."
Then his master would call in the leading men of the village or neighborhood to witness the occurrence. And he would take his servant out to the door of the home, and standing him up against the door-jamb would pierce the lobe of his ear through with an awl. I suppose like a shoemaker's awl. Then the man became not his slave, but his bond-slave, forever. It was a personal surrender of himself to his master; it was voluntary; it was for love's sake; it was for service; it was after a trial; it was for life.
Now that was what Jesus did. If you will turn to that Fortieth Psalm, from which we read, you will find words that are plainly prophetic of Jesus, and afterwards quoted as referring to Him. "Mine ears hast Thou opened, or digged or pierced for me." And in the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah, revised version, are these words likewise prophetic of Jesus. "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting."
And the truth is this. May the Spirit of God burn it deep into our hearts. Jesus was a surrendered Man. Stop a bit and think into what that means. Jesus is the giant Man of the human race, thought of just now as a man, though He was so much more, too. In His wisdom as a teacher, His calm poised judgment, the purity of His life, the tremendous power of His personality in swaying man, He clear overtops the whole race of men. Now that Master Man, that giant of the race, was a surrendered Man. For instance run through John's Gospel, and pick out the negatives on His lips, the "nots." Not His own will, nor His own words, nor His own teaching, nor His own works. Jesus came to earth to do Somebody's else will. With all His giant powers He was utterly absorbed in doing what some One else wished done. And now this giant Man, this surrendered Man, says, "You do as I have done. Learn of Me: I am wholly given up to doing My Father's will. You be wholly surrendered to Me, and so together we will carry out the Father's will."
Some one of a practical turn says, "That sounds very nice, but is it not a bit fanciful? The lobe of Jesus' ear was not pierced through, was it?" No. You are right. The scar-mark of Jesus' surrender was not in His ear, as with the old Hebrew slave. You are quite right. It was in His cheek, and brow, on His back, in His side and hands and feet. The scar-marks of His surrender were—are—all over His face and form. Everybody who surrenders bears some scar of it because of sin, his own or somebody's else. Referring to the suffering endured in service Paul tenderly reckons it as a mark of Jesus' ownership—"I bear the scars, the stigmata, of the Lord Jesus." Even of the Master Himself is this so.
And that scarred Jesus whose body told and tells of His surrender to His Father comes to us. And with those hands eagerly outstretched, and eyes beaming with the earnestness of His great passion for men, He says, "Yoke up with Me, please. Let Me have the control of all your splendid powers, in carrying out our Father's will for a world."
Full Power through Rhythm.
Then Jesus, with a sweep, gathers up all the results in a single sentence, "Ye shall find rest unto your souls." Some one may be thinking, "I do not feel the need of rest or peace so much. I am hungry for power." Will you please notice that Jesus is going to the very root of the thing here. There must be peace before there can be power. You shall find peace. Others shall find power. You will be conscious of the sweet sense of peace within. Others will be conscious of the fragrant power breathing out of your life, and service, and your very person.
These things, peace and power, are the same. They are different movements of the same river of God. The presence of God in fine harmony with you, that it is that brings the sweet peace. And that too it is that brings the gracious power into the life. The inward flow of the river is peace. The outward flow of the same stream is power. There cannot be power save as there is peace. There is nothing that hinders and holds back power as does friction. That is true in mechanics: a bit of friction grit between the wheels will check the full working of the machinery. A small nut fallen down out of place will completely stop the machine and bring all of its power to a standstill.
This is heart rest. The heart is the center, the citadel of the life. When the heart rests all is at rest. If the citadel can be captured the outworks are included. It is a found rest. It comes quietly stealing its soft way in as you go about your regular round of life. Just where you are, in the thick of the old circumstances and conditions, there comes breathing gently into your very being the great fragrant peace of God. You find it coming in. There is all the zest of finding.
It is rest in service. To many folks those two words "yoke" and "rest" have seemed to jar, as though they did not get along well together. But they do. The jarring is not in them but in our misunderstanding of them. A yoke, we have thought, means work. Rest means quitting work; no more need of work. But that is a bit of the hurt of sin that gets so many things wrong end to.
"Rest is not quitting The busy career; Rest is the fitting Of self to its sphere."
True rest is in the unhurried rhythm of action. Have you thought of when your heart rests? It does not stop, of course, while life lasts. But it rests. It rests between beats. A beat and a rest. A throb of power and a moment of perfect rest. A mighty motion that sends the warm red life through all the intricate machinery of the body; then quiet composed rest. The secret of the immeasurable power of this organ we call the heart lies just here. There is enough power in a normal human heart to batter down Bunker Hill Monument if it could be centered upon it. The secret of that power is in the rhythm of action that combines motion with rest. We call rhythm of color, beauty. Rhythm of sound is music. Rhythm of action is power.
I have often stood as a boy on the streets of old Philadelphia, and watched a gang of foreign laborers at work. As a rule they could speak only the language of their own fatherland. There would be a gang-boss to direct their movements. Perhaps it was a huge stone to be moved, or a piece of structural iron, or a heavy rail to be torn up. The ends of their crowbars were fitted under the thing to be moved. Then they waited a moment for the gang-boss to give the word. He would say, "heave ho!"
Then all together they would sing "heave ho," and push. And a "heave ho," and push; a "heave ho," and a push. They made perfect music. There was always a small crowd gathered, watching and enjoying the simple music. Their work was easier because done rhythmically. This, of course, is the simple philosophy that provides music for soldiers on march. The men can walk much longer, and farther, with less fatigue if they go to the sound of music.
The story is told of the contracts for some bridge-building in the Soudan being carried off by American bidders. Their competitors in the bidding specified a year's time or so, for the work. The Americans agreed to do it in three months. They were awarded the contract, and to the others' surprise had the work completed within the specified time.
One of the contractors who had bid for the job on the basis of a year's time said afterwards to the successful contractor, "I wish, if you wouldn't mind doing so, you would tell me how you ever got that work done in so short a time with those undisciplined Soudanese natives for workmen. I have had them on other contracts and I know I couldn't have done it. How did you ever do it?"
And the American, whose blood was British a generation or two back, and farther back yet Teutonic, smiled as he quietly said, "We had a band of native musicians playing the liveliest music they knew within earshot of every gang of laborers, while our gang-bosses kept them steadily at work."
Rhythm is the secret of power. Full rhythm is possible only where there is full obedience to nature. The man in full sweet harmony with God in all of his life knows the stilling ecstasy of peace, and the marvelous outgoings of real power. You shall find within your heart the great stilling calm of God, as steadying as the rock of ages, as exhilarating as the subtle fragrance of flowers, and as restful as a mother's bosom to her babe.
He is Our Peace.
But there is something here finer yet by far than this. Everything God provides for us is personal. There is always the personal touch and presence. Do you remember that during the earlier days of the recent war with Spain this occurrence frequently took place? In the Caribbean waters a Spanish merchantman would be overtaken by an American warship. A few shots were sent over the bows of the merchantman with a demand for surrender. And then the Spanish flag was seen to drop from the merchantman's masthead in token of surrender.
Then this was the method of procedure. A prize crew, consisting of an officer with a few ensigns, was lowered from the American boat, pulled across, and taken aboard the captured boat. The moment the prize crew stepped aboard they were masters of the boat in their government's name. Their presence signified the surrender of the foreigner, and the forced peace now between the two boats.
On a much higher plane this is what takes place with us. There has been flying at my masthead a flag with a big I upon it. As quickly as I drop it in token of my surrender to Somebody else, a prize crew is sent aboard to take possession, and assume control. Who is the prize crew? The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus the Master sends to represent Himself. He steps aboard at once.
He paces the deck as the ship's Master. His presence is peace. "He is our peace." "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace." And while He occupies the captain's quarters, with full cheery obedience on board, there is ever the fine aroma of peace everywhere, and the fullness of power.
The Master's Touch.
One morning a number of years ago in London a group of people had gathered in a small auction shop for an advertised sale of fine old antiques and curios. The auctioneer brought out an old blackened, dirty-looking violin. He said, "Ladies and gentlemen, here is a remarkable old instrument I have the great privilege of offering to you. It is a genuine Cremona, made by the famous Antonius Stradivarius himself. It is very rare, and worth its weight in gold. What am I bid?" The people present looked at it critically. And some doubted the accuracy of the auctioneer's statements. They saw that it did not have the Stradivarius name cut in. And he explained that some of the earliest ones made did not have the name. And that some that had the name cut in were not genuine. But he could assure them that this was genuine. Still the buyers doubted and criticised, as buyers have always done. Five guineas in gold were bid, but no more. The auctioneer perspired and pleaded. "It was ridiculous to think of selling such a rare violin for such a small sum," he said. But the bidding seemed hopelessly stuck there.
Meanwhile a man had entered the shop from the street. He was very tall and very slender, with very black hair, middle-aged, wearing a velvet coat. He walked up to the counter with a peculiar side-wise step, and without noticing anybody in the shop picked up the violin, and was at once absorbed in it. He dusted it tenderly with his handkerchief, changed the tension of the strings, and held it up to his ear lingeringly as though hearing something. Then putting the end of it up in position he reached for the bow, while the murmur ran through the little audience, "Paganini."
The bow seemed hardly to have touched the strings when such a soft exquisite note came out filling the shop, and holding the people spellbound. And as he played the listeners laughed for very delight, and then wept for the fullness of their emotion. The men's hats were off, and they all stood in rapt reverence, as though in a place of worship. He played upon their emotions as he played upon the old soil-begrimed violin.
By and by he stopped. And as they were released from the spell of the music the people began clamoring for the violin. "Fifty guineas," "sixty," "seventy," "eighty," they bid in hot haste. And at last it was knocked down to the famous player himself for one hundred guineas in gold, and that evening he held a vast audience of thousands breathless under the spell of the music he drew from the old, dirty, blackened, despised violin.
It was despised till the master-player took possession. Its worth was not known. The master's touch revealed the rare value, and brought out the hidden harmonies. He gave the doubted little instrument its true place of high honor before the multitude. May I say softly, some of us have been despising the worth of the man within. We have been bidding five guineas when the real value is immeasurably above that because of the Maker. Do not let us be underbidding God's workmanship.
The violin needed dusting, and readjustment of its strings before the music came. Shall we not each of us yield this rarest instrument, his own personality, to the Master's hand? There will be some changes needed, no doubt, as the Master-player takes hold. And then will go singing out of our persons and our lives, the rarest music of God, that shall enthrall and bring all within earshot to the Master-musician.
A Passion for Winning Men: The Motive-power of Service.
A Day off. Moved with Compassion. Counting on Us. The Secret of Winsomeness. "As the Stars." The Finest Wisdom. Three Essentials. A Blessed Library Corner. "Two Missing"—"Go Ye."
A Passion for Winning Men: The Motive-power of Service.
A Day off.
One morning toward the end, in the midst of His busiest campaigning, Jesus was very tired. It is one of the touches of His humanness. So He said to His disciples, "Let us take a day off." And they could see the sense of it. They were tired too. So they got a boat, and boarded her, and set sail, and headed out across the lake. And meanwhile a crowd of people had come down to the beach to be talked to, and healed, and helped in various ways.
And you can just see the look of disappointment in their faces as they say, "Why, He's going away." And for a few moments they stand there utterly dejected. Then somebody—for a long while I have thought it was a woman—somebody with eyes keenly watching the direction of the boat, said, "I believe He's going so and so"—naming a place across the lake—"let's run around the head of the lake, and meet Him when He gets out."
And the crowd was taken with that. And they ran—literally ran—around the head of the lake. And as they went they spread the word, "The Master's going so and so. Come along with us." And the people came eagerly out of the villages and cross-roads. And the crowd thickened and the longer way around in distance proved the shorter way there in time. For by and by when Peter ran the nose of the boat into the sand on the other side, and the Master got out for a day off, there were five thousand men, maybe ten thousand people waiting to receive Him.
Do you think that Peter scrooged down his eyebrows, and in a jerky voice said, "They might have given Him one day to Himself. Can't they see He's tired?" Do you think that likely John chimed in, with that fire in his voice which the after years mellowed and sweetened but never lost,—"Yes, how inconsiderate a crowd is!" Do you think so? I do. Because they were so much like us. But He—the most tired of them all—"was moved with compassion," and spent the whole day in teaching, and talking personally, and healing. And then when they had gone He went off to the mountain for the quiet time at night He could not get in the daytime.
Moved with Compassion.
There is a great word used of Jesus, and by Him, nine times in these brief records, the word compassion. The sight of a leprous man, or of a demon-distressed man, moved Him. The great multitudes huddling together after Him, so pathetically, like leaderless sheep, eager, hungry, tired, always stirred Him to the depths. The lone woman, bleeding her heart out through her eyes, as she followed the body of her boy out—He couldn't stand that at all.
And when He was so moved, He always did something. He clean forgot His own bodily needs so absorbed did He become in the folks around Him. The healing touch was quickly given, the demonized man released from his sore bonds, the disciples organized for a wider movement to help, the bread multiplied so the crowds could find something comforting between their hunger-cleaned teeth.
The sight of suffering always stirred Him. The presence of a crowd seemed always to touch and arouse Him peculiarly. He never learned that sort of city culture that can look unmoved upon suffering or upon a leaderless, helpless crowd. That word compassion, used of Him, is both deep and tender in its meaning. The word, actually used under our English means to have the bowels or heart, the seat of emotion, greatly stirred.
The kindred word, sympathy, means to have the heart yearning, literally to be suffering the same distress, to be so moved by somebody's pain or suffering that you are suffering within yourself the same pain too. Our plain English word, fellow-feeling, is the same in its force. Seeing the suffering of some one else so moves you that the same suffering is going on inside you as you see in them. This is the great word used so often of Jesus, and by Him.
There never lived a man who had such a passion for men as Jesus. He lived to win them out of their distressed, sinful, needy lives up to a new level. He died to win them. His last act was dying to win men. His last word was, "Go ye and win men." And His first act when He got back home, all scarred and marred by His contact with earth, was to send down the same Spirit as swayed Him those human years to live in us that we might have the same passion for winning men as He. Aye, and the same exquisite tact in doing it as He had.
I said the last act was dying to win men. And you remember that even in the act of dying, He forgot the keen pain of body, and the far keener pain of spirit, to turn His head as far as He could turn it, and speak the word to the fellow by His side that meant the difference of a world to him. Surely it was the ruling passion with Him to win men, strong in death, aye, strongest in death, and finding its strongest expression in His death.
Counting on Us.
Somebody has supposed the scene that he thinks may have taken place after Jesus went back. The last the earth sees of Him is the cloud—not a rain cloud, a glory cloud—that sweeps down and conceals Him from view. And the earth has not seen Him since. Though the old Book does say that some day He's coming back in just the same way as He went away, and some of us are strongly inclined to think it will be as the Book says in that regard.
But—have you ever tried to think of what took place on the other side of that cloud? He has been gone down there on the earth thirty-odd years. It's a long time. And they're fairly hungry in their eyes for a look again at that blessed old face. And I have imagined them crowding down to where they may get the first glimpse of His face again. And, do you know, lately I have been wondering, with the softening of awe creeping into the thought, whether—the Father—did not come the very first of them all and—touch His lips up to where—the scars were in Jesus' brow and cheeks—yes, His hands—and His feet, too. Tell me, you fathers here listening, would you not have done something like that with your boy, under such circumstances?
You mothers, wouldn't you have been doing something like that with your boy? And all the fatherhood of earth is named after the fatherhood of heaven, we're told. And with God fatherhood means motherhood too, you know. I do not know if it were so. But I think it's likely. It would be just like God.
But this friend I speak of has supposed that, after the first flush of feeling has spent itself—the way we speak of such things done here, the Master is walking down the golden street one day, arm in arm with Gabriel, talking intently, earnestly. Gabriel is saying,
"Master, you died for the whole world down there, did you not?"
"You must have suffered much," with an earnest look into that great face with its unremovable marks.
"Yes," again comes the answer in a wondrous voice, very quiet, but strangely full of deepest feeling.
"And do they all know about it?"
"Oh, no! Only a few in Palestine know about it so far."
"Well, Master, what's your plan? What have you done about telling the world that you died for, that you have died for them? What's your plan?"
"Well," the Master is supposed to answer, "I asked Peter, and James and John, and little Scotch Andrew, and some more of them down there just to make it the business of their lives to tell others, and the others are to tell others, and the others others, and yet others, and still others, until the last man in the farthest circle has heard the story and has felt the thrilling and the thralling power of it."
And Gabriel knows us folk down here pretty well. He has had more than one contact with the earth. He knows the kind of stuff in us. And he is supposed to answer, with a sort of hesitating reluctance, as though he could see difficulties in the working of the plan, "Yes—but—suppose Peter fails. Suppose after a while John simply does not tell others. Suppose their descendants, their successors away off in the first edge of the twentieth century, get so busy about things—some of them proper enough, some may be not quite so proper—that they do not tell others—what then?"
And his eyes are big with the intenseness of his thought, for he is thinking of—the suffering, and he is thinking too of the difference to the man who hasn't been told—"what then?"
And back comes that quiet wondrous voice of Jesus, "Gabriel, I haven't made any other plans—I'm counting on them."
The Secret of Winsomeness.
That's a bit of this friend's imagination, it's true. But—it's the whole Gospel story, through and through. Jesus has made that plan. He has not made any other plan. He's counting on us, each of us, each in his own circle, in his own way, as comes best, most natural to him tactfully, quietly, earnestly—simply that, but all of that. And—if—we fail—Him—let me be saying it very softly so the seriousness of it may get into the inner cockles of our hearts—if we fail Him, just that far we make Jesus' dying a failure so far as concerns those whom we touch.
Yes, I know that sounds very serious. I'd rather not be saying it. I'm sure, by the Book, it is so. And so, do you see the genius—may I use that word very reverently of Him who was a man and far more than man—the genius of His plan? He sent down the same Spirit that swayed Him those human years to live in us, and control us, that we might have the same fine passion for men as He, and the same exquisite tact in winning them as He had.
It must be a passion; a fire burning with the steady flame of anthracite fed by a constant stream of oil. If it be less we will be swept off our feet by the tides all around, or sucked under by their swift current. And many a splendid man to-day is being swept off his feet and sucked under by the tides and currents of life because no such passion as this is mooring and steadying and driving his whole life.
It must be a passion for winning men; not driving nor dragging, drawing. Not argument nor coercion but warm, winsome wooing. Today the sun up yonder is drawing up toward itself thousands of tons' weight of water. Nobody sees it going, except perhaps in very small part. There's no noise or dust. But the water rises up irresistibly toward the sun because of the winning power in the sun for the water. It must be something like that in this higher sphere. A winsomeness in us that will win men to us and through us to the Master.
"Oh! well," some one says, "if you put the thing that way you'll have to count me out. I'm not winsome that way." Well, maybe you need not have bothered to say it. We could easily know that without your saying it. We are not winsome this way, any of us, of ourselves. But when we allow this Jesus Spirit to take possession of us He imparts His winsomeness. For the real secret of a transfigured life is a transmitted life. Somebody else living in us, with a capital S for that Somebody, looking out of our eyes, giving His beauty to our faces, and His winningness to our personality.
"As the Stars."
The language used in the Scriptures for this sort of thing is full of intense interest. Some time ago I was reading in the old prophecy of Daniel. I was not thinking of this matter of winning men but simply trying to get a fresh grasp of that wonderfully fascinating old bit of prophecy. And all at once I came across that gem in the last chapter. I knew it was there. You know it is there. Yet it came to me with all the freshness of a new delightful surprise. "They that are wise shall shine with the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
Four times in those last two chapters of Daniel it refers to those that are "wise"; literally, those that are teachers. Those who have themselves learned the truth and are patiently, faithfully, winsomely telling and teaching others. The word used for influencing the others is full of practical picturesque meaning. "They that turn many." As if a man were going the wrong way on a dangerous road. And I know it's the wrong way. There's a sharp precipice ahead. But he is going steadily on, head down, all absorbed, not noticing where the road leads.
I might go up to him, and strike him sharply on the shoulder to get his attention, and say, "See here, you're going the wrong way; can't you see the danger ahead there? Come this way," with a vigorous pull. I have sometimes seen that done, in just that way. And if the man is an American, or an Englishman, or a German,—we're all very much alike,—he will say coldly, "Excuse me. I think I can take care of myself. Thank you. I'll look out for this individual."
Or, I might slip gently up to the man, and get my arm in his, and begin to turn, very gently at first, and turn, and turn, and then turn some more, and then farther around still, and walk him off the other way. You will have to get close to a man to do that. Some folks never do. And you'll have to be at least half-way decent in your life to get close. Some folks never can. And you will need to be warm enough all the time inside, to melt through the icy cloak of indifference beneath which his heart may be wrapped up. But I can tell you this: the old world where you and I live is fairly hungry at its heart, with an eating hunger for turners of that sort.