THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS
Formerly of Yale Divinity School Faculty; Author of "How to Speak in Public," Etc.
With Assistance from Many of the Foremost Living Preachers and Other Theologians
INTRODUCTION BY LEWIS O. BRASTOW, D.D.
Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology in Yale University
VOLUME VIII TALMAGE TO KNOX LITTLE
TALMAGE (1832-1901). A Bloody Monster
SPURGEON (1834-1892). Songs in the Night
POTTER (1834-1908) Memorial Discourse on Phillips Brooks
ABBOTT (Born in 1835). The Divinity in Humanity
BROOKS (1835-1893). The Pride of Life
GLADDEST (Born in 1836). The Prince of Life
CLIFFORD (Born in 1836). The Forgiveness of Sins
MOODY (1837-1899). What Think Ye of Christ?
FOWLER (1837-1908). The Spirit of Christ
WHYTE (Born in 1837). Experience
WATKINSON (Born in 1838). The Transfigured Sackcloth
LORIMER (1838-1904). The Fall of Satan
LITTLE (Born in 1839). Thirst Satisfied
A BLOODY MONSTER
Thomas De Witt Talmage was born at Bound Brook, N.J., in 1832. For many years he preached to large and enthusiastic congregations at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. At one time six hundred newspapers regularly printed his sermons. He was a man of great vitality, optimistic by nature, and particularly popular with young people. His voice was rather high and unmusical, but his distinct enunciation and earnestness of manner gave a peculiar attraction to his pulpit oratory. His rhetoric has been criticized for floridness and sensationalism, but his word pictures held multitudes of people spellbound as in the presence of a master. He died in 1901.
A BLOODY MONSTER
[Footnote 1: Copyright, 1900, by Louis Klopsch, and reprinted by permission.]
It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him.—Gen. xxxvii., 33.
Joseph's brethren dipt their brother's coat in goat's blood, and then brought the dabbled garment to their father, cheating him with the idea that a ferocious animal had slain him, and thus hiding their infamous behavior. But there is no deception about that which we hold up to your observation to-day. A monster such as never ranged African thicket or Hindustan jungle hath tracked this land, and with bloody maw hath strewn the continent with the mangled carcasses of whole generations; and there are tens of thousands of fathers and mothers who could hold up the garment of their slain boy, truthfully exclaiming, "It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him." There has, in all ages and climes, been a tendency to the improper use of stimulants. Noah took to strong drink. By this vice, Alexander the Conqueror was conquered. The Romans at their feasts fell off their seats with intoxication. Four hundred millions of our race are opium-eaters. India, Turkey, and China have groaned with the desolation; and by it have been quenched such lights as Halley and De Quincey. One hundred millions are the victims of the betelnut, which has specially blasted the East Indies. Three hundred millions chew hashish, and Persia, Brazil, and Africa suffer the delirium. The Tartars employ murowa; the Mexicans, the agave; the people at Guarapo, an intoxicating product taken from sugarcane; while a great multitude, that no man can number, are the votaries of alcohol. To it they bow. Under it they are trampled. In its trenches they fall. On its ghastly holocaust they burn. Could the muster-roll of this great army be called, and could they come up from the dead, what eye could endure the reeking, festering putrefaction? What heart could endure the groan of agony? Drunkenness! Does it not jingle the burglar's key? Does it not whet the assassin's knife? Does it not cock the highwayman's pistol? Does it not wave the incendiary's torch? Has it not sent the physician reeling into the sick-room; and the minister with his tongue thick into the pulpit? Did not an exquisite poet, from the very top of his fame, fall a gibbering sot, into the gutter, on his way to be married to one of the fairest daughters of New England, and at the very hour the bride was decking herself for the altar; and did he not die of delirium tremens, almost unattended, in a hospital? Tamerlane asked for one hundred and sixty thousand skulls with which to build a pyramid to his own honor. He got the skulls, and built the pyramid. But if the bones of all those who have fallen as a prey to dissipation could be piled up, it would make a vaster pyramid. Who will gird himself for the journey and try with me to scale this mountain of the dead—going up miles high on human carcasses to find still other peaks far above, mountain above mountain white with the bleached bones of drunkards?
The Sabbath has been sacrificed to the rum traffic. To many of our people, the best day of the week is the worst. Bakers must keep their shops closed on the Sabbath. It is dangerous to have loaves of bread going out on Sunday. The shoe store is closed: severe penalty will attack the man who sells boots on the Sabbath. But down with the window-shutters of the grog-shops. Our laws shall confer particular honor upon the rum-traffickers. All other trades must stand aside for these. Let our citizens who have disgraced themselves by trading in clothing and hosiery and hardware and lumber and coal take off their hats to the rum-seller, elected to particular honor. It is unsafe for any other class of men to be allowed license for Sunday work. But swing out your signs, and open your doors, O ye traffickers in the peace of families and in the souls of immortal men. Let the corks fly and the beer foam and the rum go tearing down the half-consumed throat of the inebriate. God does not see! Does He? Judgment will never come! Will it?
It may be that God is determined to let drunkenness triumph, and the husbands and sons of thousands of our best families be destroyed by this vice, in order that our people, amazed and indignant, may rise up and demand the extermination of this municipal crime. There is a way of driving down the hoops of a barrel so tight that they break. We have, in this country, at various times, tried to regulate this evil by a tax on whisky. You might as well try to regulate the Asiatic cholera or the smallpox by taxation. The men who distil liquors are, for the most part, unscrupulous; and the higher the tax, the more inducement to illicit distillation. Oh! the folly of trying to restrain an evil by government tariff! If every gallon of whisky made—if every flask of wine produced, should be taxed a thousand dollars, it would not be enough to pay for the tears it has wrung from the eyes of widows and orphans, nor for the blood it has dashed on the Christian Church, nor for the catastrophe of the millions it has destroyed for ever.
I sketch two houses in one street. The first is bright as home can be. The father comes at nightfall, and the children run out to meet him. Bountiful evening meal! Gratulation and sympathy and laughter! Music in the parlor! Fine pictures on the wall! Costly books on the table! Well-clad household! Plenty of everything to make home happy!
House the second! Piano sold, yesterday by the sheriff! Wife's furs at pawnbroker's shop! Clock gone! Daughter's jewelry sold to get flour! Carpets gone off the floor! Daughters in faded and patched dresses! Wife sewing for the stores! Little child with an ugly wound on her face, struck by an angry blow! Deep shadow of wretchedness falling in every room! Doorbell rings! Little children hide! Daughters turn pale! Wife holds her breath! Blundering step in the hall! Door opens! Fiend, brandishing his fist, cries, "Out! out! What are you doing here?" Did I call this house second? No; it is the same house. Rum transformed it. Rum embruted the man. Rum sold the shawl. Rum tore up the carpets. Rum shook his fist. Rum desolated the hearth. Rum changed that paradise into a hell.
I sketch two men that you know very well. The first graduated from one of our literary institutions. His father, mother, brothers and sisters were present to see him graduate. They heard the applauding thunders that greeted his speech. They saw the bouquets tossed to his feet. They saw the degree conferred and the diploma given. He never looked so well. Everybody said, "What a noble brow! What a fine eye! What graceful manners! What brilliant prospects!"
Man the second: Lies in the station-house. The doctor has just been sent for to bind up the gashes received in a fight. His hair is matted and makes him look like a wild beast. His lip is bloody and cut. Who is this battered and bruised wretch that was picked up by the police and carried in drunk and foul and bleeding? Did I call him man the second? He is man the first! Rum transformed him. Rum destroyed his prospects. Rum disappointed parental expectation. Rum withered those garlands of commencement day. Rum cut his lip. Rum dashed out his manhood. Rum, accurst rum!
This foul thing gives one swing to its scythe, and our best merchants fall; their stores are sold, and they sink into dishonored graves. Again it swings its scythe, and some of our physicians fall into suffering that their wisest prescriptions cannot cure. Again it swings its scythe, and ministers of the gospel fall from the heights of Zion, with long resounding crash of ruin and shame. Some of your own households have already been shaken. Perhaps you can hardly admit it; but where was your son last night? Where was he Friday night? Where was he Thursday night? Wednesday night? Tuesday night? Monday night? Nay, have not some of you in your own bodies felt the power of this habit? You think that you could stop? Are you sure you could? Go on a little further, and I am sure you cannot. I think, if some of you should try to break away, you would find a chain on the right wrist, and one on the left; one on the right foot, and another on the left. This serpent does not begin to hurt until it has wound 'round and 'round. Then it begins to tighten and strangle and crush until the bones crack and the blood trickles and the eyes start from their sockets, and the mangled wretch cries. "O God! O God! help! help!" But it is too late; and not even the fires of we can melt the chain when once it is fully fastened.
I have shown you the evil beast. The question is, who will hunt him down, and how shall we shoot him? I answer, first, by getting our children right on this subject. Let them grow up with an utter aversion to strong drink. Take care how you administer it even as medicine. If you must give it to them and you find that they have a natural love for it, as some have, put in a glass of it some horrid stuff, and make it utterly nauseous. Teach, them, as faithfully as you do the truths of the Bible, that rum is a fiend. Take them to the almshouse, and show them the wreck and ruin it works. Walk with them into the homes that have been scourged by it. If a drunkard hath fallen into a ditch, take them right up where they can see his face, bruised, savage, and swollen, and say, "Look, my son. Rum did that!" Looking out of your window at some one who, intoxicated to madness, goes through the street, brandishing his fist, blaspheming God, a howling, defying, shouting, reeling, raving, and foaming maniac, say to your son, "Look; that man was once a child like you." As you go by the grog-shop let them know that that is the place where men are slain and their wives made paupers and their children slaves. Hold out to your children warnings, all rewards, all counsels, lest in afterdays they break your heart and curse your gray hairs. A man laughed at my father for his scrupulous temperance principles, and said: "I am more liberal than you. I always give my children the sugar in the glass after we have been taking a drink." Three of his sons have died drunkards, and the fourth is imbecile through intemperate habits.
Again, we will grapple this evil by voting only for sober men. How many men are there who can rise above the feelings of partizanship, and demand that our officials shall be sober men? I maintain that the question of sobriety is higher than the question of availability; and that, however eminent a man's services may be, if he have habits of intoxication, he is unfit for any office in the gift of a Christian people. Our laws will be no better than the men who make them. Spend a few days at Harrisburg or Albany or Washington and you will find out why, upon these subjects, it is impossible to get righteous enactments.
Again, we will war upon this evil by organized societies. The friends of the rum traffic have banded together; annually issue their circulars; raise fabulous sums of money to advance their interests; and by grips, passwords, signs, and strategems, set at defiance public morals. Let us confront them with organizations just as secret, and, if need be, with grips and pass-words and signs, maintain our position. There is no need that our beneficent societies tell all their plans. I am in favor of all lawful strategy in the carrying on of this conflict. I wish to God we could lay under the wine-casks a train which, once ignited, would shake the earth with the explosion of this monstrous iniquity!
Again, we will try the power of the pledge. There are thousands of men who have been saved by putting their names to such a document. I know it is laughed at; but there are some men who, having once promised a thing, do it. "Some have broken the pledge." Yes; they were liars. But all men are not liars. I do not say that it is the duty of all persons to make such signature; but I do say that it would be the salvation of many of you. The glorious work of Theobald Mathew can never be estimated. At this hand four millions of people took the pledge, and multitudes in Ireland, England, Scotland, and America, have kept it till this day. The pledge signed has been to thousands the proclamation of emancipation.
Again, we expect great things from asylums for inebriates. They have already done a glorious work. I think that we are coming at last to treat inebriation as it ought to be treated, namely, as an awful disease, self-inflicted, to be sure, but nevertheless a disease. Once fastened upon a man, sermons will not cure him, temperance lectures will not eradicate it; religious tracts will not remove it; the Gospel of Christ will not arrest it. Once under the power of this awful thirst, the man is bound to go on; and, if the foaming glass were on the other side of perdition, he would wade through the fires of hell to get it. A young man in prison had such a strong thirst for intoxicating liquors that he had cut off his hand at the wrist, called for a bowl of brandy in order to stop the bleeding, thrust his wrist into the bowl, and then drank the contents. Stand not, when the thirst is on him, between a man and his cups. Clear the track for him. Away with the children! he would tread their life out. Away with the wife! he would dash her to death. Away with the cross! he would run it down. Away with the Bible! he would tear it up for the winds. Away with heaven! he considers it worthless as a straw. "Give me the drink! Give it to me! Tho the hands of blood pass up the bowl, and the soul trembles over the pit—the drink! Give it to me! Tho it be pale with tears; tho the froth of everlasting anguish float on the foam—give it to me! I drink to my wife's wo to my children's rags; to my eternal banishment from God and hope and heaven! Give it to me! the drink!"
Again, we will contend against these evils by trying to persuade the respectable classes of society to the banishment of alcoholic beverages. You who move in elegant and refined associations; you who drink the best liquors; you who never drink until you lose your balance, let us look at each other in the face on this subject. You have, under God, in your power the redemption of this land from drunkenness. Empty your cellars and wine-closets of the beverage, and then come out and give us your hand, your vote, your prayers, your sympathies. Do that, and I will promise three things: first, that you will find unspeakable happiness in having done your duty; secondly, you will probably save somebody—perhaps your own child; thirdly, you will not, in your last hour, have a regret that you made the sacrifice, if sacrifice it be. As long as you make drinking respectable, drinking customs will prevail, and the plowshare of death, drawn by terrible disasters, will go on turning up this whole continent, from end to end, with the long, deep, awful furrow of drunkards' graves.
This rum fiend would like to go and hang up a skeleton in your beautiful house, so that, when you opened the front door to go in, you would see it in the hall; and when you sat at your table you would see it hanging from the wall; and, when you opened your bedroom you would find it stretched upon your pillow; and, waking at night, you would feel its cold hand passing over your face and pinching at your heart. There is no home so beautiful but it may be devastated by the awful curse. It throws its jargon into the sweetest harmony. What was it that silenced Sheridan, the English orator, and shattered the golden scepter with which he swayed parliaments and courts? What foul sprite turned the sweet rhythm of Robert Burns into a tuneless babble? What was it that swamped the noble spirit of one of the heroes of the last war, until, in a drunken fit, he reeled from the deck of a Western steamer, and was drowned. There was one whose voice we all loved to hear. He was one of the most classic orators of the century. People wondered why a man of so pure a heart and so excellent a life should have such a sad countenance always. They knew not that his wife was a sot.
I call upon those who are guilty of these indulgences to quit the path of death! Oh! what a change it would make in your home! Do you see how everything there is being desolated? Would you not like to bring back joy to your wife's heart, and have your children come out to meet you with as much confidence as once they showed? Would you not like to rekindle the home-lights that long ago were extinguished? It is not too late to change. It may not entirely obliterate from your soul the memory of wasted years and a ruined reputation, nor smooth out from your anxious brow the wrinkles which trouble has plowed. It may not call back unkind words uttered or rough deeds done; for perhaps in those awful moments you struck her! It may not take from your memory the bitter thoughts connected with some little grave. But it is not too late to save yourself, and secure for God and your family the remainder of your fast-going life.
But perhaps you have not utterly gone astray. I may address one who may not have quite made up his mind. Let your better nature speak out. You take one side or other in war against drunkenness. Have you the courage to put your foot down right, and say to your companions and friends, "I will never drink intoxicating liquor in all my life; nor will I countenance the habit in others"? Have nothing to do with strong drink. It has turned the earth into a place of skulls, and has stood opening the gate to a lost world to let in its victims; until now the door swings no more upon its hinges, but, day and night, stands wide open to let in the agonized procession of doomed men.
Do I address one whose regular work in life is to administer to this appetite? For God's sake get out of that business! If a we be pronounced upon the man who gives his neighbor drink, how many woes must be hanging over the man who does this every day and every hour of the day!
Do not think that because human government may license you that therefore God licenses you. I am surprized to hear men say that they respect the "original package" decision by which the Supreme Court of the United States allows rum to be taken into States like Kansas, which decided against the sale of intoxicants. I have no respect for a wrong decision, I care not who makes it; the three judges of the Supreme Court who gave minority report against that decision were right, and the chief justice was wrong. The right of a State to defend itself against the rum traffic will yet be demonstrated, the Supreme Court notwithstanding. Higher than the judicial bench at Washington is the throne of the Lord God Almighty. No enactment, national, State, or municipal, can give you the right to carry on a business whose effect is destruction.
God knows better than you do yourself the number of drinks you have poured down. You keep a list; but a more accurate list has been kept than yours. You may call it Burgundy, Bourbon, cognac, Heidsieck, sour mash, or beer. God calls it "strong-drink." Whether you sell it in low oyster-cellar or behind the polished counter of a first-class hotel, the divine curse is upon you. I tell you plainly that you will meet your customers one day when there will be no counter between you. When your work is done on earth, and you enter the reward of your business, all the souls of the men whom you have destroyed will crowd around you, and pour their bitterness into your cup. They will show you their wounds and say, "You made them"; and point to their unquenchable thirst and say, "You kindled it"; and rattle their chain and say, "You forged it." Then their united groans will smite your ear; and with the hands out of which you once picked the sixpences and the dimes they will push you off the verge of great precipices; while rolling up from beneath, and breaking away among the crags of death, will thunder, "Wo to him that giveth his neighbor drink!"
SONGS IN THE NIGHT
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born at Kelvedon, Essex, England, in 1834. He was one of the most powerful and popular preachers of his time, and his extraordinary force of character and wonderful enthusiasm attracted vast audiences. His voice was unusually powerful, clear and melodious, and he used it with consummate skill. In the preparation of his sermons he meditated much but wrote not a word, so that he was in the truest sense a purely extemporaneous speaker. Sincerity, intensity, imagination and humor, he had in preeminent degree, and an English style that has been described as "a long bright river of silver speech which unwound, evenly and endlessly, like a ribbon from a revolving spool that could fill itself as fast as it emptied itself." Thirty-eight volumes of his sermons were issued in his lifetime and are still in increasing demand. Dr. Robertson Nicoll says: "Our children will think more of these sermons than we do; and as I get older I read them more and more." He died in 1892.
SONGS IN THE NIGHT
But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?—Job xxxv., 10.
Elihu was a wise man, exceeding wise, tho not as wise as the all-wise Jehovah, who sees light in the clouds, and finds order in confusion; hence Elihu, being much puzzled at beholding Job thus afflicted, cast about him to find the cause of it, and he very wisely hit upon one of the most likely reasons, altho it did not happen to be the right one in Job's case. He said within himself—"Surely, if men be tried and troubled exceedingly, it is because, while they think about their troubles and distress themselves about their fears, they do not say, 'Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?'" Elihu's reason was right in the majority of cases. The great cause of the Christian's distress, the reason of the depths of sorrow into which many believers are plunged, is this—that while they are looking about, on the right hand and on the left, to see how they may escape their troubles, they forget to look to the hills whence all real help cometh; they do not say, "Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?" We shall, however, leave that inquiry, and dwell upon those sweet words, "God my maker, who giveth songs in the night."
The world hath its night. It seemeth necessary that it should have one. The sun shineth by day, and men go forth to their labors; but they grow weary, and nightfall cometh on, like a sweet boon from heaven. The darkness draweth the curtains, and shutteth out the light, which might prevent our eyes from slumber; while the sweet, calm stillness of the night permits us to rest upon the lap of ease, and there forget awhile our cares, until the morning sun appeareth, and an angel puts his hand upon the curtain, and undraws it once again, touches our eyelids, and bids us rise, and proceed to the labors of the day. Night is one of the greatest blessings men enjoy; we have many reasons to thank God for it. Yet night is to many a gloomy season. There is "the pestilence that walketh in darkness"; there is "the terror by night"; there is the dread of robbers and of fell disease, with all those fears that the timorous know, when they have no light wherewith they can discern objects. It is then they fancy that spiritual creatures walk the earth; tho, if they knew rightly, they would find it to be true, that
"Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, Unseen, both when we sleep and when we wake,"
and that at all times they are round about us—not more by night than by day. Night is the season of terror and alarm to most men. Yet even night hath its songs. Have you never stood by the seaside at night, and heard the pebbles sing, and the waves chant God's glories? Or have you never risen from your couch, and thrown up the window of your chamber, and listened there? Listened to what? Silence—save now and then a murmuring sound, which seems sweet music then. And have you not fancied that you heard the harp of God playing in heaven? Did you not conceive, that yon stars, that those eyes of God, looking down on you, were also mouths of song—that every star was singing God's glory, singing, as it shone, its mighty Maker, and His lawful, well-deserved praise? Night hath its songs. We need not much poetry in our spirit, to catch the song of night, and hear the spheres as they chant praises which are loud to the heart, tho they be silent to the ear—the praises of the mighty God, who bears up the unpillared arch of heaven, and moves the stars in their courses....
If we are going to sing of the things of yesterday, let us begin with what God did for us in past times. My beloved brethren, you will find it a sweet subject for song at times, to begin to sing of electing love and covenanted mercies. When thou thyself art low, it is well to sing of the fountain-head of mercy; of that blest decree wherein thou wast ordained to eternal life, and of that glorious Man who undertook thy redemption; of that solemn covenant signed, and sealed, and ratified, in all things ordered well; of that everlasting love which, ere the hoary mountains were begotten, or ere the aged hills were children, chose thee, loved thee firmly, loved thee fast, loved thee well, loved thee eternally. I tell thee, believer, if thou canst go back to the years of eternity; if thou canst in thy mind run back to that period, or ere the everlasting hills were fashioned, or the fountains of the great deep scooped out, and if thou canst see thy God inscribing thy name in His eternal book; if thou canst see in His loving heart eternal thoughts of love to thee, thou wilt find this a charming means of giving thee songs in the night. No songs like those which come from electing love; no sonnets like those that are dictated by meditations on discriminating mercy. Some, indeed, cannot sing of election: the Lord open their mouths a little wider! Some there are that are afraid of the very term; but we only despise men who are afraid of what they believe, afraid of what God has taught them in His Bible. No, in our darker hours it is our joy to sing:
"Sons we are through God's election, Who in Jesus Christ believe; By eternal destination, Sovereign grace we now receive. Lord, thy favor, Shall both grace and glory give."
Think, Christian, of the yesterday, I say, and thou wilt get a song in the night. But if thou hast not a voice tuned to so high a key as that, let me suggest some other mercies thou mayest sing of; and they are the mercies thou hast experienced. What! man, canst thou not sing a little of that blest hour when Jesus met thee; when, a blind slave, thou wast sporting with death, and He saw thee, and said: "Come, poor slave, come with me"? Canst thou not sing of that rapturous moment when He snapt thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said: "I am the Breaker; I came to break thy chains, and set thee free"? What tho thou art ever so gloomy now, canst thou forget that happy morning, when in the house of God thy voice was loud, almost as a seraph's voice, in praise? for thou couldst sing: "I am forgiven; I am forgiven":
"A monument of grace, A sinner saved by blood."
Go back, man; sing of that moment, and then thou wilt have a song in the night? Or if thou hast almost forgotten that, then sure thou hast some precious milestone along the road of life that is not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read some happy inspiration of His mercy toward thee! What! didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did He not raise thee up from that? Wast thou never poor before, and did He not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did He not deliver thee? Come, man! I beseech thee, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and weave them into an ark, wherein thy infant faith may float safely on the stream. I bid thee not forget what God hath done. What! hast thou buried thine own diary? I beseech thee, man, turn over the book of thy remembrance. Canst thou not see some sweet hill Mizar? Canst thou not think of some blest hour when the Lord met with thee at Hermon? Hast thou never been on the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never been fetched from the den of lions? Hast thou never escaped the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear? Nay, O man, I know thou hast; go back, then, a little way, and take the mercies of yesterday; and tho it is dark now, light up the lamps of yesterday, and they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt find that God hath given thee a song in the night.
But I think, beloved, there is never so dark a night, but there is something to sing about, even concerning that night; for there is one thing I am sure we can sing about, let the night be ever so dark, and that is, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, and because His compassions fail not." If we cannot sing very loud, yet we can sing a little low tune, something like this—"He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities."
"Oh!" says one, "I do not know where to get my dinner from to-morrow. I am a poor wretch." So you may be, my dear friend; but you are not so poor as you deserve to be. Do not be mightily offended about that; if you are, you are no child of God; for the child of God acknowledges that he has no right to the least of God's mercies, but that they come through the channel of grace alone. As long as I am out of hell, I have no right to grumble; and if I were in hell I should have no right to complain, for I feel, when convinced of sin, that never creature deserved to go there more than I do. We have no cause to murmur; we can lift up our hands, and say, "Night! thou art dark, but thou mightst have been darker. I am poor, but, if I could not have been poorer, I might have been sick. I am poor and sick—well, I have some friend left, my lot cannot be so bad, but it might have been worse." And therefore, Christian, you will always have one thing to sing about—"Lord, I thank Thee, it is not all darkness!" Besides, Christian, however dark the night is, there is always a star or moon. There is scarce ever a night that we have, but there are just one or two little lamps burning up there. However dark it may be, I think you may find some little comfort, some little joy, some little mercy left, and some little promise to cheer thy spirit. The stars are not put out, are they? Nay, if thou canst not see them, they are there; but methinks one or two must be shining on thee; therefore give God a song in the night. If thou hast only one star, bless God for that one, perhaps He will make it two; and if thou hast only two stars, bless God for the two stars, and perhaps He will make them four. Try, then, if thou canst not find a song in the night.
But, beloved, there is another thing of which we can sing yet more sweetly; and that is, we can sing of the day that is to come. I am preaching to-night for the poor weavers of Spitalfields. Perhaps there are not to be found a class of men in London who are suffering a darker night than they are; for while many classes have been befriended and defended, there are few who speak up for them, and (if I am rightly informed) they are generally ground down within an inch of their lives. I suppose that their masters intend that their bread shall be very sweet, on the principle, that the nearer the ground, the sweeter the grass; for I should think that no people have their grass so near the ground as the weavers of Spitalfields. In an inquiry by the House of Commons last week, it was given in evidence that their average wages amount to seven or eight shillings a week; and that they have to furnish themselves with a room, and work at expensive articles, which my friends and ladies are wearing now, and which they buy as cheaply as possible; but perhaps they do not know that they are made with the blood and bones and marrow of the Spitalfields weavers, who, many of them, work for less than man ought to have to subsist upon. Some of them waited upon me the other day; I was exceedingly pleased with one of them. He said, "Well, sir, it is very hard, but I hope there is better times coming for us." "Well, my friend," I said, "I am afraid you cannot hope for much better times, unless the Lord Jesus Christ comes a second time." "That is just what we hope for," said he. "We do not see there is any chance of deliverance, unless the Lord Jesus Christ comes to establish His kingdom upon the earth; and then He will judge the opprest, and break the oppressors in pieces with an iron rod, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." I was glad my friend had got a song in the night, and was singing about the morning that was coming. Often do I cheer myself with the thought of the coming of the Lord. We preach now, perhaps, with little success; "the kingdoms of this world" are not "become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ"; we send out missionaries; they are for the most part unsuccessful. We are laboring, but we do not see the fruits of our labors. Well, what then? Try a little while; we shall not always labor in vain, or spend our strength for naught. A day is coming, and now is, when every minister of Christ shall speak with unction, when all the servants of God shall preach with power, and when colossal systems of heathenism shall be scattered to the winds. The shout shall be heard, "Alleluia! Alleluia! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." For that day do I look; it is to the bright horizon of that second coming that I turn my eyes. My anxious expectation is, that the sweet Sun of righteousness will arise with healing beneath His wings, that the opprest shall be righted, that despotisms shall be cut down, that liberty shall be established, that peace shall be made lasting, and that the glorious liberty of the gospel shall be extended throughout the known world. Christian! if thou art in a night, think of the morrow; cheer up thy heart with the thought of the coming of thy Lord.
There is another sweet to-morrow of which we hope to sing in the night. Soon, beloved, you and I shall lie on our dying bed, and we shall want a song in the night then; and I do not know where we shall get it, if we do not get it from the to-morrow. Kneeling by the bed of an apparently dying saint, last night, I said, "Well, sister, He has been precious to you; you can rejoice in His covenant mercies, and His past loving-kindnesses." She put out her hand, and said, "Ah! sir, do not talk about them now; I want the sinner's Savior as much now as ever; it is not a saint's I want; it is still a sinner's Savior that I am in need of, for I am a sinner still." I found that I could not comfort her with the past; so I reminded her of the golden streets, of the gates of pearl, of the walls of jasper, of the harps of gold, of the songs of bliss; and then her eyes glistened; she said, "Yes, I shall be there soon; I shall meet them by-and-by;" and then she seemed so glad! Ah! believer, you may always cheer yourself with that thought. Thy head may be crowned with thorny troubles now, but it shall wear a starry crown directly; thy hand may be filled with cares—it shall grasp a harp soon, a harp full of music. Thy garments may be soiled with dust now; they shall be white by-and-by. Wait a little longer. Ah! beloved, how despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven, we shall then,
"With transporting joys recount The labors of our feet."
Our trials will seem to us nothing at all. We shall talk to one another about them in heaven, and find all the more to converse about, according as we have suffered more here below. Let us go on, therefore; and if the night be ever so dark, remember there is not a night that shall not have a morning; and that morning is to come by and by.
And now I want to tell you, very briefly, what are the excellences of songs in the night above all other songs.
In the first place, when you hear a man singing a song in the night—I mean in the night of trouble—you may be quite sure it is a hearty one. Many of you sang very prettily just now, didn't you? I wonder whether you would sing very prettily, if there was a stake or two in Smithfield for all of you who dared to do it? If you sang under pain and penalty, that would show your heart to be in your song. We can all sing very nicely indeed when everybody else sings. It is the easiest thing in the world to open your mouth, and let the words come out; but when the devil puts his hand over your mouth, can you sing then? Can you say, "Tho he slay me, yet will I trust in him"? That is hearty singing; that is real song that springs up in the night. The nightingale singeth most sweetly because she singeth in the night. We know a poet has said that, if she sang by day, she might be thought to sing no more sweetly than the wren. It is the stillness of the night that makes her song sweet. And so doth a Christian's song become sweet and hearty, because it is in the night.
Again: the songs we sing in the night will be lasting. Many songs we hear our fellow-creatures singing in the streets will not do to sing by-and-by; I guess they will sing a different kind of tune soon. They can sing nowadays any rollicking, drinking songs; but they will not sing them when they come to die; they are not exactly the songs with which to cross Jordan's billows. It will not do to sing one of those light songs when death and you are having the last tug. It will not do to enter heaven singing one of those unchaste, unholy sonnets. No; but the Christian who can sing in the night will not have to leave off his song; he may keep on singing it forever. He may put his foot in Jordan's stream, and continue his melody; he may wade through it, and keep on singing still, and land himself safe in heaven; and when he is there, there need not be a gap in his strain, but in a nobler, sweeter strain he may still continue singing His power to save. There are a great many of you that think Christian people are a very miserable set, don't you? You say, "Let me sing my song." Ay, but, my dear friends, we like to sing a song that will last; we don't like your songs; they are all froth, like bubbles on the beaker, and they will soon die away and be lost. Give me a song that will last; give me one that will not melt. Oh, give me not the dreamster's gold! he hoards it up, and says, "I'm rich"; and when he waketh, his gold is gone. But give me songs in the night, for they are songs I sing forever.
Again: the songs we warble in the night are those that show we have real faith in. God. Many men have just enough faith to trust God as far as they can see Him, and they always sing as far as they can see providence go right; but true faith can sing when its possessors cannot see. It can take hold of God when they cannot discern Him.
Songs in the night, too, prove that we have true courage. Many sing by day who are silent by night; they are afraid of thieves and robbers; but the Christian who sings in the night proves himself to be a courageous character. It is the bold Christian who can sing God's sonnets in the darkness.
He who can sing songs in the night, too, proves that he has true love to Christ. It is not love to Christ to praise Him while everybody else praises Him; to walk arm in arm with Him when He has the crown on His head is no great deed, I wot; to walk with Christ in rags is something. To believe in Christ when He is shrouded in darkness, to stick hard and fast by the Savior when all men speak ill of Him and forsake Him—that is true faith. He who singeth a song to Christ in the night, singeth the best song in all the world; for He singeth from the heart.
I am afraid of wearying you; therefore I shall not dwell on the excellences of night songs, but just, in the last place, show you their use.
It is very useful to sing in the night of our troubles, first, because it will cheer ourselves. When you were boys living in the country, and had some distance to go alone at night, don't you remember how you whistled and sang to keep your courage up? Well, what we do in the natural world we ought to do in the spiritual. There is nothing like singing to keep your spirits alive. When we have been in trouble, we have often thought ourselves to be well-nigh overwhelmed with difficulty; and we have said, "Let us have a song." We have begun to sing; and Martin Luther says, "The devil cannot bear singing." That is about the truth; he does not like music. It was so in Saul's days: an evil spirit rested on Saul; but when David played on his harp, the evil spirit went away from him. This is usually the case: if we can begin to sing we shall remove our fears. I like to hear servants sometimes humming a tune at their work; I love to hear a plowman in the country singing as he goes along with his horses. Why not? You say he has no time to praise God; but he can sing a song—surely he can sing a Psalm, it will take no more time. Singing is the best thing to purge ourselves of evil thoughts. Keep your mouth full of songs, and you will often keep your heart full of praises; keep on singing as long as you can; you will find it a good method of driving away your fears.
Sing, again, for another reason: because it will cheer your companions. If any of them are in the valley and in the darkness with you, it will be a great help to comfort them. John Bunyan tells us, that as Christian was going through the valley he found it a dreadful dark place, and terrible demons and goblins were all about him, and poor Christian thought he must perish for certain; but just when his doubts were the strongest, he heard a sweet voice; he listened to it, and he heard a man in front of him saying, "Yea, when I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Now, that man did not know who was near him, but he was unwittingly singing to cheer a man behind. Christian, when you are in trouble, sing; you do not know who is near you. Sing, perhaps you will get a companion by it. Sing! perhaps there will be many a heart cheered by your song. There is some broken spirit, it may be, that will be bound up by your sonnets. Sing! there is some poor distrest brother, perhaps, shut up in the Castle of Despair, who, like King Richard, will hear your song inside the walls, and sing to you again, and you may be the means of getting him a ransom. Sing, Christian, wherever you go; try, if you can, to wash your face every morning in a bath of praise. When you go down from your chamber, never go to look on man till you have first looked on your God; and when you have looked on Him, seek to come down with a face beaming with joy; carry a smile, for you will cheer up many a poor way-worn pilgrim by it.
One more reason; and I know it will be a good one for you. Try and sing in the night, Christian, for that is one of the best arguments in all the world in favor of your religion. Our divines nowadays spend a great deal of time in trying to prove Christianity against those who disbelieve it. I should like to have seen Paul trying that! Elymas the sorcerer withstood him: how did our friend Paul treat him? He said, "Oh, full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of the righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" That is about the politeness such men ought to have who deny God's truth. "We start with this assumption: we will prove that the Bible is God's word, but we are not going to prove God's word. If you do not like to believe it, we will shake hands, and bid you good-by; we will not argue with you. The gospel has gained little by discussion. The greatest piece of folly on earth has been to send a man round the country, to follow another up who has been lecturing on infidelity just to make himself notorious.
Why, let them lecture on; this is a free country; why should we follow them about? The truth will win the day. Christianity need not wish for controversy; it is strong enough for it, if it wishes it; but that is not God's way.
God's direction is, "Preach, teach, dogmatize." Do not stand disputing; claim a divine mission; tell men that God says it, and there leave it. Say to them, "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned"; and when you have done that, you have done enough. For what reason should our missionaries stand disputing with Brahmins? Why should they be wasting their time by attempting to refute first this dogma, and then another, of heathenism? Why not just go and say, "The God whom ye ignorantly worship, I declare unto you; believe me, and you will be saved; believe me not, and the Bible says you are lost." And then, having thus asserted God's word, say, "I leave it, I declare it unto you; it is a thing for you to believe, not a thing for you to reason about."
Religion is not a thing merely for your intellect; a thing to prove your own talent upon, by making a syllogism on it; it is a thing that demands your faith. As a messenger of heaven, I demand that faith; if you do not choose to give it, on your own head be the doom, if there be such, if there be not, you are prepared to risk it. But I have done my duty; I have told you the truth; that is enough, and there I leave it. Oh, Christian, instead of disputing, let me tell thee how to prove your religion. Live it out!
Live it out! Give the external as well as the internal evidence; give the external evidence of your own life. You are sick; there is your neighbor who laughs at religion; let him come into your house. When he was sick, he said, "Oh, send for the doctor"; and there he was fretting, and fuming, and whining, and making all manner of noises. When you are sick, send for him, tell him that you are resigned to the Lord's will; that you will kiss the chastening rod; that you will take the cup, and drink it, because your Father gives it.
You do not need to make a boast of this, or it will lose all its power; but do it because you cannot help doing it. Your neighbor will say, "There is something in that." And when you come to the borders of the grave—he was there once, and you heard how he shrieked, and how frightened he was—give him your hand, and say to him, "Ah! I have a Christ that will do to die by; I have a religion that will make me sing in the night." Let me hear how you can sing, "Victory, victory, victory!" through Him that loved you. I tell you, we may preach fifty thousand sermons to prove the gospel, but we shall not prove it half so well as you will through singing in the night. Keep a cheerful frame; keep a happy heart; keep a contented spirit; keep your eye up, and your heart aloft, and you prove Christianity better than all the Butlers, and all the wise men that ever lived. Give them the analogy of a holy life, and then you will prove religion to them; give them, the evidence of internal piety, developed externally, and you will give the best possible proof of Christianity.
MEMORIAL DISCOURSE ON PHILLIPS BROOKS
Henry Codman Potter was born at Schenectady, New York, in 1834, and was graduated from the Theological Seminary of Virginia in 1857. He was appointed rector of Grace Protestant Episcopal Church, New York, in 1868, and was coadjutor to his uncle, Horatio Potter, from 1883 to 1887, when he was made Bishop of the Diocese of New York. He won considerable distinction as a clear-cut and eloquent speaker. He dealt in pulpit and on platform, with many public questions, such as temperance, capital and labor, civic righteousness, and the purifying of East Side slum life. He advocated personal freedom, and invariably spoke with authority. He was particularly happy as an after-dinner speaker. He died in 1908.
MEMORIAL DISCOURSE ON PHILLIPS BROOKS
[Footnote 1: Reprinted by permission of Bishop Henry C. Potter and The Century Company, publishers of "The Scholar and the State."]
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.—John vi., 63.
He who stops over-long in the mere mechanism of religion is verily missing that for which religion stands. Here, indeed, it must be owned is, if not our greatest danger, one of the greatest. All life is full of that strange want of intellectual and moral perspective which fails to see how secondary, after all, are means to ends; and how he only has truly apprehended the office of religion who has learned, when undertaking in any wise to present it or represent it, to hold fast to that which is the one central thought and fact of all: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
And this brings me—in how real and vivid a way I am sure you must feel as keenly as I—face to face with him of whom I am set to speak to-day.
Never before in the history, not only of our communion, but of any or all communions, has the departure of a religious teacher been more widely noted and deplored than in the case of him of whom this Commonwealth and this diocese have been bereaved. Never before, surely, in case of any man whom we can recall, has the sense of loss and bereavement been more distinctly a personal one,—extending to multitudes in two hemispheres who did not know him, who had never seen or heard him, and yet to whom he had revealed himself in such real and helpful ways.
It has followed, inevitably, from this, that that strong tide of profound feeling has found expression in many and most unusual forms, and it will be among the most interesting tasks of the future biographer of the late Bishop of Massachusetts to take note of these various memorials and to trace in them the secret of his unique power and influence.
But just because they have, so many of them, in such remarkable variety and from sources so diverse, been written or spoken, and no less because a memoir of Phillips Brooks is already undertaken by hands preeminently designated for that purpose, I may wisely here confine myself to another and very different task. I shall not attempt, therefore, even the merest outline of a biographical review. I shall not undertake to analyze, nor, save incidentally, even to refer to, the influences and inheritances that wrought in the mind and upon the life of your late friend and teacher. I shall still less attempt to discover the open secret of his rare and unique charm and attractiveness as a man; and I shall least of all endeavor to forecast the place which history will give to him among the leaders and builders of our age. Brief as was his ministry in his higher office, and to our view all too soon ended, I shall be content to speak of him as a bishop,—of his divine right, as I profoundly believe, to a place in the episcopate, and of the preeminent value of his distinctive and incomparable witness to the highest aim and purpose of that office.
And first of all let me say a word in regard to the way in which he came to it. When chosen to the episcopate of this diocese, your late bishop had already, at least once, as we all know, declined the office. It was well known to those who knew him best that, as he had viewed it for a large part of his ministry, it was a work for which he had no especial sympathy either as to its tasks, or, as he had understood them, its opportunities.
But the time undoubtedly came when, as to this, he modified his earlier opinions; and the time came too, as I am most glad to think, when he was led to feel that if he were called to such an office he might find in it an opportunity for widening his own sympathies and for estimating more justly those with whom previously he had believed himself to have little in common.
It was the inevitable condition of his strong and deep convictions that he should not always or easily understand or make due allowance for men of different opinions. It was—God and you will bear me witness that this is true!—one of the noblest characteristics of his fifteen months' episcopate that, as a bishop, men's rightful liberty of opinion found in him not only a large and generous tolerance, but a most beautiful and gracious acceptance. He seized, instantly and easily, that which will be forever the highest conception of the episcopate in its relations whether to the clergy or the laity, its paternal and fraternal character; and his "sweet reasonableness," both as a father and as a brother, shone through all that he was and did.
For one, I greatly love to remember this,—that when the time came he himself, with the simple naturalness which marked all that he did, was brought to reconsider his earlier attitude toward the episcopal office, and to express with characteristic candor his readiness to take up its work if he should be chosen to it; he turned to his new, and to him most strange, task with a supreme desire to do it in a loving and whole-hearted way, and to make it helpful to every man, woman, and child with whom he came in contact. What could have been more like him than that, in that last address which he delivered to the choir-boys at Newton, he should have said to them, "When you meet me let me know that you know me." Another might easily have been misunderstood in asking those whom he might by chance encounter to salute him; but he knew, and the boys knew, what he had in mind,—how he and they were all striving to serve one Master, and how each—he most surely as much as they—was to gain strength and cheer from mutual recognition in the spirit of a common brotherhood.
And thus it was always; and this it was that allied itself so naturally to that which was his never-ceasing endeavor—to lift all men everywhere to that which was, with him, the highest conception of his office, whether as a preacher or as a bishop,—the conception of God as a Father, and of the brotherhood of all men as mutually related in Him.
In an address which he delivered during the last General Convention in Baltimore to the students of Johns Hopkins University, he spoke substantially these words:
"In trying to win a man to a better life, show him not the evil but the nobleness of his nature. Lead him to enthusiastic contemplations of humanity;"
in its perfection, and when he asks, 'Why, if this is so, do not I have this life?'—then project on the background of his enthusiasm his own life; say to him, 'Because you are a liar, because you blind your soul with licentiousness, shame is born,—but not a shame of despair. It is soon changed to joy. Christianity becomes an opportunity, a high privilege, the means of attaining to the most exalted ideal—and the only means.'
"Herein must lie all real power; herein lay Christ's power, that he appreciated the beauty and richness of humanity, that it is very near the Infinite, very near to God. These two facts—we are the children of God, and God is our Father—make us look very differently at ourselves, very differently at our neighbors, very differently at God. We should be surprized, not at our good deeds, but at our bad ones. We should expect good as more likely to occur than evil; we should believe that our best moments are our truest. I was once talking with an acquaintance about whose religious position I knew nothing, and he exprest a very hopeful opinion in regard to a matter about which I was myself very doubtful.
"'Why, I said to him, 'You are an optimist.'
"'Of course I am an optimist,' he replied, because I am a Christian.'
"I felt that as a reproof. The Christian must be an optimist."
Men and brethren, I set these words over against those of his Master with which I began, and the two in essence are one. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." There is a life nobler and diviner than any that we have dreamed of. To the poorest and meanest of us, as to the best and most richly-dowered, it is alike open. To turn toward it, to reach up after it, to believe in its ever-recurring nearness, and to glorify God in attaining to it, this is the calling of a human soul.
Now then, what, I ask you, is all the rest of religion worth in comparison with this?—not what is it worth in itself, but what is its place relatively to this? This, I maintain, is the supreme question for the episcopate, as it ought to be the supreme question with the ministry of any and every order. And therefore it is, I affirm, that, in bringing into the episcopate with such unique vividness and power this conception of his office, your bishop rendered to his order and to the Church of God everywhere a service so transcendent. A most gifted and sympathetic observer of our departed brother's character and influence has said of him, contrasting him with the power of institution, "His life will always suggest the importance of the influence of the individual man as compared with institutional Christianity."
In one sense, undoubtedly, this is true; but I should prefer to say that his life-work will always show the large and helpful influence of a great soul upon institutional Christianity. It is a superficial and unphilosophical temperament that disparages institutions; for institutions are only another name for that organized force and life by which God rules the world. But it is undoubtedly and profoundly true that you no sooner have an institution, whether in society, in politics, or in religion, than you are threatened with the danger that the institution may first exaggerate itself and then harden and stiffen into a machine; and that in the realm of religion, preeminently, those whose office it should be to quicken and infuse it with new life should themselves come at last to "worship the net and the drag." And just here you find in the history of religion in all ages the place of the prophet and the seer. He is to pierce through the fabric of the visible structure to that soul of things for which it stands. When, in Isaiah, the Holy Ghost commands the prophet, "Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" it is not alone, you see, his voice that lie is to lift up. No, no! It is the vision of the unseen and divine. "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!"
Over and over again that voice breaks in upon the slumbrous torpor of Israel and smites the dead souls of priests and people alike. Now it is a Balaam, now it is an Elijah, a David, an Isaiah, a John the Baptist, a Paul the Apostle, a Peter the Hermit, a Savonarola, a Huss, a Whitefield, a Wesley, a Frederick Maurice, a Frederick Robertson, a Phillips Brooks.
Do not mistake me. I do not say that there were not many others. But these names are typical, and that for which they stand cannot easily be mistaken. I affirm without qualification that, in that gift of vision and of exaltation for which they stand, they stand for the highest and the best,—that one thing for which the Church of God most of all stands, and of which so long as it is the Church Militant it will most of all stand in need: to know that the end of all its mechanisms and ministries is to impart life, and that nothing which obscures or loses sight of the eternal source of life can regenerate or quicken;—to teach men to cry out, with St. Augustine, "Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te": Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is unquiet until its rests in Thee,—this however, as any one may be tempted to fence and juggle with the fact, is the truth on which all the rest depends.
Unfortunately it is a truth which there is much in the tasks and engagements of the episcopate to obscure. A bishop is preeminently, at any rate in the popular conception of him, an administrator; and howsoever wide of the mark this popular conception may be from the essential idea of the office, it must be owned that there is much in a bishop's work in our day to limit his activities, and therefore his influence, within such a sphere.
To recognize his prophetic office as giving expression to that mission of the Holy Ghost of which he is preeminently the representative, to illustrate it upon a wider instead of a narrower field, to recognize and seize the greater opportunities for its exercise, to be indeed "a leader and commander" to the people, not by means of the petty mechanisms of officialism, but by the strong, strenuous, and unwearied proclamation of the truth; under all conditions to make the occasion somehow a stepping-stone to that mount of vision from which men may see God and righteousness and become sensible of the nearness of both to themselves,—this, I think you will agree with me, is no unworthy use of the loftiest calling and the loftiest gifts.
And such a use was his. A bishop-elect, walking with him one day in the country, was speaking, with not unnatural shrinking and hesitancy, of the new work toward which he was soon to turn his face, and said among other things, "I have a great dread, in the Episcopate, of perfunctoriness. In the administration, especially, of confirmation, it seems almost impossible, in connection with its constant repetition, to avoid it."
He was silent a moment, and then said, "I do not think that it need be so. The office indeed is the same. But every class is different; and then—think what it is to them! It seems to me that that thought can never cease to move one."
What a clear insight the answer gave to his own ministry. One turns back to his first sermon, that evening when, with his fellow-student in Virginia, he walked across the fields to the log-cabin where, not yet in holy orders, he preached it, and where afterward he ministered with such swiftly increasing power to a handful of negro servants. "It was an utter failure," he said afterward. Yes, perhaps; but all through the failure he struggled to give expression to that of which his soul was full; and I do not doubt that even then they who heard him somehow understood him. We pass from those first words to the last,—those of which I spoke a moment ago,—the address to the choir-boys at Newton,—was there ever such, an address to choir-boys before? He knew little or nothing about the science of music, and with characteristic candor he at once said so. But he passed quickly from the music to those incomparable words of which the music was the mere vehicle and vesture. He bade the lads to whom he spoke think of those who, long ago and all the ages down, had sung that matchless Psalter,—of the boys and men of other times, and what it had meant to them. And then, as he looked into their fresh young faces and saw the long vista of life stretching out before them, he bade them think of that larger and fuller meaning which was to come into those Psalms of David, when he,—was there some prophetic sense of how soon with him the end would be?—when he and such as he had passed away,—what new doors were to open, what deeper meanings were to be discerned, what nobler opportunities were to dawn, as the years hastened swiftly on toward their august and glorious consummation! How it all lifts us up as we read it, and how like it was to that "one sermon" which he forever preached!
And in saying so I do not forget what that was which some men said was missing in it. His, they tell us—who hold some dry and formalized statement of the truth so close to the eye that it obscures all larger vision of it,—his, they tell us, was an "invertebrate theology." Of what he was and spoke, such a criticism is as if one said of the wind, that divinely appointed symbol of the Holy Ghost, "it has no spine nor ribs."
A spine and ribs are very necessary things; but we bury them as so much chalk and lime when once the breath has gone out of them! In the beginning we read, "And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."
And all along since then there have been messengers of God into whom the same divine breath has been, as it were, without measure breathed, and who have been the quickeners and inspirers of their fellows. Nothing less than this can explain that wholly exceptional and yet consistent influence which he whom we mourn gave forth. It was not confined or limited by merely personal or physical conditions, but breathed with equal and quickening power through all that he taught and wrote. There were multitudes who never saw or heard him, but by whom nevertheless he was as intimately known and understood as if he had been their daily companion.
Never was there an instance which more truly fulfilled the saying, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." They reached down to the inmost need of empty and aching hearts and answered it. They spoke to that in the most sin-stained and wayward soul which is, after all, the image of the invisible God,—spoke to it, touched it, constrained it. "What has this fine-bred Boston scholar," plain men asked, when he bade him come to us and preach in our Trinity—"what has such an one to say to the business men of Wall Street?" But when he came, straightway every man found out that he had indeed something to say to him,—a word of power, a word of hope, a word of enduring joy and strength!
A kindred thinker of large vision and rare insight, New England born and nurtured like himself, speaking of him not long after his death, said:
"There are three forms pertaining to the Christian truths: they are true as facts, they are true as doctrines intellectually apprehended, they are true as spiritual experiences to be realized. Bishop Brooks struck directly for the last. In the spirit he found the truth; and only as he could get it into a spiritual form did he conceive it to have power.
"It was because he assumed the facts as true in the main, refusing to insist on petty accuracy, and passed by doctrinal forms concerning which there might be great divergence of opinion, and carried his thought on into the world of spirit, that he won so great a hearing and such conviction of belief. For it is the spirit that gives common standing-ground; it says substantially the same thing in all men. Speak as a spirit to the spiritual nature of men, and they will respond, because in the spirit they draw near to their common source and to the world to which all belong.
"It was because he dealt with this common factor of the human and the divine nature that he was too positive and practical. In the spirit it is all yea and amen; there is no negative; in the New Jerusalem there is no night. We can describe this feature of his ministry by words from, one of his own sermons: 'It has always been through men of belief, not unbelief, that power from God has poured into man. It is not the discriminating critic, but he whose beating, throbbing life offers itself a channel for the divine force,—he is the man through, whom the world grows rich, and whom it remembers, remembers with perpetual thanksgiving.'"
And shall not you who are here to-day thank God that such a man was, tho for so brief a space, your bishop? Some there were, you remember, who thought that those greater spiritual gifts of his would unfit him for the business of practical affairs. "A bishop's daily round," they said, "his endless correspondence, his hurried journeyings, his weight of anxious cares, the misadventures of other men, ever returning to plague him,—how can he bring himself to stoop and deal with these?"
But as in so much else that was transcendent in him, how little here, too, his critics understood him! No more pathetic proof of this has come to light than in that testimony of one among you who, as his private secretary, stood in closest and most intimate relations to him. What a story that is which he has given to us of a great soul—faithful always in the greatest? Yes, but no less faithful in the least. There seems a strange, almost grotesque impossibility in the thought that such an one should ever have come to be regarded as "a stickler for the canons."
But we look a little deeper than the surface, and all that is incongruous straightway disappears. His was the realm of a divine order,—his was the office of his Lord's servant. God had called him. He had put him where he was. He had set his Church to be His witness in the world, and in it, all His children, the greatest with the least, to walk in ways of reverent appointment. Those ways might irk and cramp him sometimes. They did: he might speak of them with sharp impatience and seeming disesteem sometimes. He did that too, now and then,—for he was human like the rest of us! But mark you this, my brothers, for, in an age which, under one figment or another, whether of more ancient or more modern license, is an age of much self-will,—we shall do well to remember it,—his was a life of orderly and consistent obedience to rule. He kept to the Church's plain and stately ways: kept to them and prized them too.
But all the while he held his soul wide open to the vision of his Lord! Up out of a routine that seemed to others that did not know or could not understand him, and who vouchsafed to him much condescending compassion for a bondage which he never felt, and of which in vain they strove to persuade him to complain,—up out of the narrower round in which so faithfully he walked, from time to time he climbed, and came back bathed in a heavenly light, with lips aglow with heavenly fire. The Spirit had spoken to him, and so he spoke to us. "The flesh profiteth nothing: it is the spirit that quickeneth. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
And so we thank God not alone for his message, but that it was given to him to speak it as a bishop in the Church of God. We thank God that in a generation that so greatly needs to cry, as our Te Deum teaches us, "Govern us and lift us up!" he was given to the Church not alone to rule but to uplift.
What bishop is there who may not wisely seek to be like him by drawing forever on those fires of the Holy Ghost that set his lips aflame? Nay, what soul among us all is there that may not wisely seek to ascend up into that upper realm in which he walked, and by whose mighty airs his soul was filled? Unto the almighty and ever-living God we yield most high praise and hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all His saints who have been the chosen vessels of His grace and the lights of the world in their several generations; but here and to-day especially for his servant, Phillips Brooks, some time of this Commonwealth and this diocese, true prophet, true priest, true bishop, to the glory of God the Father.
THE DIVINITY IN HUMANITY
Lyman Abbott was born at Roxbury, Mass., in 1835. As successor to Henry Ward Beecher, at Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, he ministered with great spiritual power until 1898, when he resigned his pastorate to devote his entire time to The Outlook, of which he was, and still is, the editor. Dr. Abbott's conception of the minister's work is briefly summed up in his own words:
"Whenever a minister forgets the splendid message of pardon, peace and power based on faith in Jesus Christ as God manifest in the flesh, whenever for this message he substitutes literary lectures, critical essays, sociological disquisitions, theological controversies, or even ethical interpretations of the universal conscience, whenever, in other words, he ceases to be a Christian preacher and becomes a lyceum or seminary lecturer, he divests himself of that which in all ages of the world has been the power of the Christian ministry, and will be its power so long as men have sins to be forgiven, temptations to conquer, and sorrows to be assuaged."
BORN IN 1835
THE DIVINITY IN HUMANITY
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?—John X., 34-36.
The context and argument is this: Jesus Christ has declared that He will give unto His sheep eternal life; and that no one can pluck them out of His hand, because He and His Father are one; and the Father who gives these sheep to His care and keeping is greater than all the forces that are leagued against them. Thereat the Jews took up stones against Him, saying: "Being a man thou makest thyself equal with God." And Christ answers with our text. He refers them back to the Old Testament, which, He says, declares of the judges of Israel, of the men to whom the inspiration of God came, that they are divine. "Why, then," He says, "do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I claim divinity?" It is impossible to consider this a mere play upon the word; that Christ uses the word God in one sense in one paragraph and in another sense in the paragraph immediately following. It is impossible to conceive that this is a kind of sacred pun. No, no; the argument is clear and unmistakable. According to your Old Testament scripture, He says, the men in whom and to whom and through whom the power and grace of God are manifested are themselves the partakers of the divine nature. If that is so, if the men of the olden times, patriarchs and prophets, through whom the divine nature was manifested—if they are divine, do not accuse me of blasphemy because I claim for Myself divinity. If in this message, on the one hand, Christ claims kinship with God, on the other He lifts the whole of humanity up with Him and makes the claim for them. The religion of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the religion of Christianity and of Judaism, is a religion of faith in God. But it is not less truly a religion of faith in man, and of faith in man because man is a child of God. And the one faith would be utterly useless without the other. For faith in God is effective because it is accompanied with faith in man as the child of God.
And in this faith in man is the inspiration of all human progress. Faith in man, I say. Faith sees something which the eye does not see. Faith sees something which the reason does not perceive. Faith is not irrational, but it perceives a transcendent truth, over beyond that which the sense perceives. Faith is always intermixed with hope and with a great expectation, either with a hope because it sees something which is not yet but will be, or else with a hope because it sees something which is not yet seen but will be seen. Faith in a man is not a belief that man is to-day a great, noble character, but it is a perception in man of dormant possibilities of greatness and nobility which time and God will develop. It is only the man who has faith in man who can really interpret man. It is faith in man that gives us all true human insight. The difference between a photograph and a portrait is this: the photograph gives the outward feature, and stops there; and most of us, when we stand in a photograph saloon to have our picture taken, hide our soul away. The artist sees the soul behind the man, knows him, understands something of his nature, and paints the soul that looks out through the eyes. He sees in the man something which the sun does not exhibit, and makes that something shine on the canvas. The artist in literature sees an ideal humanity, and interprets it. Realism in literature does not portray the real man. Anthony Trollope pictures the Englishman as he is to-day, and society as any man may take it with a kodak; but Dickens gives Toby Veck and Tiny Tim; George Eliot, Adam Bede and Dinah Morris. Men say that no such boy ever lived as MacDonald has portrayed in Sir Gibbie. In every street Arab is a possible Sir Gibbie; and MacDonald has seen the possible and shown us what Christianity may make out of a street Arab. In this perception of a possible in man lies the spirit of all progress in science. The man of practical science laughs at the notion of an iron railway on which steam cars shall travel faster than English coaches. But the man of faith in men, who believes that it is in the power of men to dominate the powers of nature, builds the road. The man of practical science laughs at the notion that we can reach up our hands into the clouds and draw down the lightning. But Franklin does it. The man of faith is sometimes mistaken, but he is always experimenting, because he always believes that man to-morrow will be more than man is to-day or was yesterday. And all progress in civilization has its secret in this great faith in man as a being that has a mastery, not yet interpreted, not yet understood, not yet comprehended in its fulness, over all the powers of nature.
Now, is there any ground or basis for this faith in man? Have we a right to believe that man is more than he seems to be, as we can see him in the street to-day? Have we a right to build our institutions and fabrics on this belief? Have we a right to think that man can govern himself, or must we go back and say with Carlyle and Ruskin and Voltaire that the great body of men are incompetent to govern themselves, and a few wise rulers must govern them? Have we a right to believe that all the progress that has thus far been made in science is but an augury of progress far greater, reaching into the illimitable? Have we a right to say that these portraits of a possible humanity, this Portia, this Toby Veck, this Tiny Tim, this ideal man and woman, are real men and real women in possibility, if not in the actualities of life? Or are we to think of them as simply phantasmagoria hung up for the delectation of a passing moment? The Bible makes answer to that question,—the Bible preeminently, but the great poets and the great prophets of all religions; the Bible, because the poets and the prophets of the Bible transcend the poets and the prophets of all other religions. And that declaration is that man is made in the image of God, and that God dwells in man and is coming to the manifestation of Himself in growing, developing, redeemed humanity. Our Bible starts out with the declaration that God made man in His own image. The poets take the idea up. MacDonald tells us in that beautiful poem of his, that the babe came through the blue sky and got the blue of his eyes as he came; Wordsworth, that the child's imaginings are the recollected glory of a heavenly home; and the author of the first chapter of Genesis, that God breathed his own breath into the nostrils of man and made him in the image of God. All fancy, all imaginings? But, my dear friends, there is a truth in fancy as well as in science. We need not believe that this aspiration that shows itself in the pure mind of a little child is a trailing glory that he has brought with him from some pre-existent state. We need not think that it is physiological fact that the sky colored the eyes of the babe as the babe came through. Nor need we suppose that man was a clay image into which God breathed a physical breath, so animating him. But beyond all this imagery is the vision of the poet. God in man; a divine life throbbing in humanity; man the offspring of God; man coming forth from the eternal and going forth into the eternal.
This is the starting-point of the Bible. Starting with this, it goes on with declaration after declaration based on this fundamental doctrine that man and God in their essential moral attributes have the same nature. It is human experience which is used to interpret divine experience. According to pagan thought, God speaks to men through movements of the stars, through all external phenomena, through even entrails of animals. Seldom so in the Bible, save as when the wise men followed the star, and then that they might come to a divine humanity. In the Old Testament God speaks in human experience, through human experience, about human experience, to typify and interpret and explain Himself. God is like a shepherd that shepherds his flock. God is like a king that rules in justice. He is like the father that provides for his children. He is like the mother that comforts the weeping child. All the experiences of humanity are taken in turn and attributed to God. The hopes, the fears, the sorrows, the joys, the very things which we call faults in men—so strong and courageous are the old prophets in this fundamental faith of theirs that man and God are alike—the very things we call faults in men are attributed to the Almighty. He is declared to hate, to be wrathful, to be angry, to be jealous; because, at the root, every fault is a virtue set amiss; and the very faults of men have in them something that interprets the power and will of God, as the very faults of a boy interpret the virtues of his father. All through the Old Testament God manifests Himself through human experience. He speaks in the hearts of men; He dwells in the experience of men; He interprets Himself through the life of men; and, finally, when this one selected nation which has a genius for spiritual truth has been so far educated that there is no danger that it will go back and worship man, that it will become a mere hero-worshiper, when it has been so far educated that there is no danger of that, then Jesus Christ comes into the world—God manifests Himself in human life.
Who, then, is Jesus Christ? Let John tell us. The Oriental world was puzzled about the question of the origin of evil. They said, in brief, a good God cannot make a bad world. Out of a good God, therefore, there have emanated other gods, and out of these gods other gods, until at last there came to be imperfect gods or bad gods. And the world was made, some of them said, partly by a good god and partly by a bad one; and others by an imperfect god who was an emanation of the perfect one. Of these emanations one was Life, another was Light, another was the Word. And John, writing in the age of Oriental philosophy, uses the phraseology of Oriental philosophy in order that he might tell mankind who and what Jesus Christ is. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God." God never was an abstraction; from the very beginning He was a speaking God, a living God, a manifesting God, a forth-putting God. "The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. And this Word became flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." Let me put this into modern language. What is it but this? From eternity God has been a manifesting God. When the fulness of time came, God, that He might manifest Himself to His children, came into a human life and dwelt in a human life. He that had spoken here through one prophet, there through another prophet; He that had sent one message in this direction and another in that; He that had spoken through signs and tokens, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, in divers manners and in fragmentary utterances—when the fulness of time had come, He spoke in one perfect human life, taking entire possession of it and making it His own, that He might manifest Himself in terms of human experience to humanity. Or turn to Paul and let me read you this declaration; "Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." What is this, again, but the same declaration? God desiring to show Himself to humanity, entered into one human life, became subject to human conditions, shared the weakness, the wants, the ignorance of humanity, entered into and was identified with one human life.
Do I say, then, that Jesus Christ was a man like other men? No. But I do say that in their essential qualities God and man are identical, and God entered into humanity that He might show to humanity what He is. I do say, not that Jesus Christ was a man like other men, but that other men may become like Jesus Christ. I hold a bulb in my one hand and a tulip in my other. Will any man say to me, this beautiful flower with all its rich coloring is like this bulb? Oh, no! But let the sun of God shine long enough on this bulb, put it where it belongs, subject it to the conditions of life, and this bulb will become like this flower. Man is made in the image of God. All that is in man that is not in God's image does not belong to man's nature. Natural depravity? There is no natural depravity. Depravity is unnatural. Depravity is contra-natural. It is against the whole law of man's being. It is never wrong for any creature God has made to act out the nature which God endowed him with. It is not wicked for a tiger to be ravening. It is not wicked for a snake to be sinuous. It is wicked for man to be ravening or sinuous, because it is against the divine nature that God has put in man. He made man for better things.
God made man in His own image, God coming through successive stages, manifesting Himself in successive relations of Himself in human experience, God at last disclosing Himself in one pure, sinless, typical man in order that man through that humanity might know who and what God is—and is that the end? Oh, no! That is the beginning, only the beginning. For what did God come in Christ? Simply to show Himself? Here is a hospital—all manner of sick; the paralytic, the fever-stricken, the consumptive. Is it good news to these hospital bedridden ones if an athlete come in and show them his life, his muscles, the purity of his lungs, the health of his constitution, and then goes out? But if he comes in and says, "My friends, if you will follow my directions I will put into you consumptive ones some of the strength of my lungs, into you fever-stricken ones some of the purity of my blood; into you paralytic ones some of the sinew and muscle I possess—you can become like me," then there is good news in the message. If God came into the world simply to tell us what God is and what the ideal of humanity is, the gospel would be the saddest message that could be conceived, as delivered to the human race. It would add gloom to the gloom, darkness to the darkness, chains to the chains, despair to despair. He comes not merely to show divinity to us, but to impart divinity to us; rather, to evolve the latent divinity which He first implanted in us. As God has entered into Christ, He will enter into me. Christ says to me: As I am patient, you can become patient; as I am strong, you can become strong; as I am pure, you can become pure; as I am the Son of God, you can become the Son of God. Therefore His message is the gospel that it is.
Christ is not a man like other men. I can find in the biography of Jesus no trace of sin. In every other biography, oh, how many traces! There is no trace of repentance. The Hebrew Psalmist laments his iniquity. Paul confesses himself to be the chief of sinners. Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Edwards—go where I will, in the biography of all the saints there are signs of sin and iniquity. Never a trace of repentance or confession in Christ. In all others we see a struggle after God. "My heart panteth after thee, as the hart panteth after water-brooks." "I count not myself to have attained, but, forgetting those things that are behind, I press forward toward the mark." Never in the written biography of Christ a trace of that aspiration after something not yet reached. On the contrary, a great peace and a great possession. He says: I have come full of life. I have come to give life. This sinless Christ comes that He may give to us that which He Himself possesses; that He may take the sin out of our lives and sorrow out of our hearts, and for the yearning desire give a great, great peace. I have come, He says, that you might have life. How much, Lord and Master? Life more abundantly. What kind of life, Lord and Master? Eternal life. Has He come with that great life of His to give a little and then stop? Nay, to give all to every one that every one will take.
I marvel to find Christian men denying that Christ is the type and manifestation and revelation of the possible divinity in universal humanity. It is written all over the Bible. What says Christ Himself? I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly. As the Father has sent Me into the world, even so I send you into the world. You shall be My disciples. You shall learn of Me. You shall be My followers, and tread where I have trod. You shall take up My cross, and suffer as I have suffered. The secret of My life shall be the secret of your life. Ye shall be in Me. I will abide with you. Ye shall be as a branch grafted on the vine, drawing the same life as I have, as out of My very veins. As the Father was in Me, so I and My Father will come and abide in you. He breathes upon the disciples and tells them to receive the Spirit that was in Him; and in His last prayer He prays that they may share His glory, that they may be one with the Father, as He is one with the Father. Paul takes up the same refrain and repeats it over and over again. Righteousness in man is the righteousness of God, God's own righteousness coming out of God's heart into human hearts. Ye shall be partakers of the divine nature. Ye shall be joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ, inheriting all that Christ inherited from His Father. Ye shall have the same spirit that was in Christ. Metaphor and trope and figure are exhausted in the endeavor of the apostle to set forth this sublime truth. Christ is the servant of God. We are the servants of God. He is the Son of God. We are the sons of God. He is the light of the world. We are the lights of the world. He is a priest forever. We are priests perpetually serving in His temple. He is the one eternal sacrifice. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice before God. He is dead. We are to die with Him. He has risen. We are to rise with Him. Already we sit in the heavenly place with Christ Jesus. We are changed from glory to glory into His image. We are predestined to be conformed to that image. We are bid to pray that we may be rooted and grounded in Christ, and that with Him, we may be filled with all the fulness of God.
Do I say, then, that I am equal to Christ? Or that I shall ever become equal to Christ? No! Let me try to make this plain to the child, and then the rest will perhaps understand it. Here is a great man. He is a great statesman. He is a great poet. He is a great orator. He is a great philosopher. He is a great general. He is Bismarck and Gladstone and Dante and Napoleon and Raphael and Plato all combined in one. And he has children, and this boy is a statesman, and this boy is a general, and this boy is an orator, and this boy is a poet, and this boy is an artist. No one of them comprizes all the genius that was in his father, but each one has one quality of that father, and all the boys together reflect their father's nature. No, I shall never be equal to Christ. But according to the measure of my own capacity, I may reflect even here and now something of Christ and be really Christ-like.
Christ is my Master. I acknowledge no other Master than Him. I wish to follow where He leads. I gladly believe whatever He says. And I have no other ambition—oh, I wish it were true that I never had any other ambition!—than to be like Him. But He is my Master because He bids me follow where He leads, because He gives what I can take, because He promised what He will yet fulfil. I believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the center of my faith, as He is the center and source of my life. But I do not believe in the medieval formula that Jesus Christ is God and man mysteriously joined together, because to believe that would be to leave me both without an ideal of man which I might follow, and without a manifestation of God to which I might cling. In my country home two Christians quarreled. An atheist went to them and said to one of them, "Your Christ said, 'Forgive all your enemies and love one another.'" "Yes," he said, "Christ was divine. He could. I cannot." But there was nothing of moral virtue that God wrought in Christ that He cannot work in you and me if we give Him time enough. And, on the other hand, this separation of "God" and "man" in Christ denies the real manifestation of God to man. Jesus called His disciples to watch while He wrestled with agony in Gethsemane, and Dean Alford, speaking on Gethsemane, says this was the manifestation in Christ of human weakness. No! no! A thousand times, No! It is the glorious manifestation of that sympathy in God which wants the sympathy of the feeblest of His followers, as the mother wants the sympathy and love of the babe on her lap. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Only we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." There are two things we do not know. Genius is always a mystery, spiritual genius the greatest mystery of genius, and Christ the greatest mystery of all. We do not know what we shall be, any more than one who never had seen a garden could guess what the mold would be when the spring had finished its work. Those are two things we do not know. But there are two things we do know. We shall be like Him, and when we are like Him, we shall see Him as He is. We shall be like no imagination of Him, no deteriorated or imperfect conception of Him; but when we come to see Him in all the regal splendor of His character, with all the love, all the justice, all the purity, all the divine glory which is adumbrated and shadowed here because our eyes could not look upon it and still live—when we come to see Him in all the glory of that divine character, we shall be like Him—we shall be like Him.