To My Younger Brethren - Chapters on Pastoral Life and Work
by Handley C. G. Moule
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Transcriber's Note:

1. Obvious misspellings and printing errors have been corrected.

2. Archaic word spellings have been retained.

3. The list of books by the same author has been moved from the beginning to the end of the book.

4. Footnotes have been placed immediately following the paragraphs in which they are noted.

5. Notation for Footnote 4, which is missing in the original, has been supplied.

6. A word that is missing at the beginning of Footnote 8 has been supplied as (I).

7. Capitalized headings within chapters are running page headers.

8. Running page headers which are designated by * reflect subject matter that occurs within paragraphs in the original and are broken into paragraphs for the purpose of better readability in this document.

9. Scripture references (e.g., Mal. 2.1; Acts xx. 19; 2 Tim. 1.12; etc.) which appear as sidenotes in the original are placed within [ ] and immediately follow the quoted scripture or statement pertaining to scripture to which they refer.

10. Redundant book heading and redundant chapter headings have been omitted.


Chapters on Pastoral Life and Work


THE RIGHT REV. HANDLEY C.G. MOULE, D.D. Lord Bishop of Durham

Fourth Edition

London Hodder and Stoughton 27, Paternoster Row 1902

Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.











"Give those who teach pure hearts and wise, Faith, hope, and love, all warm'd by prayer; Themselves first training for the skies They best will raise their people there."



The following pages do not appear to need any extended preface; their topic is set forth in the first lines of the first chapter. With what success it has been handled is another matter.

But as a writer reviews his own words, it is inevitable that some sort of envoi should present itself to his mind. In this case the envoi seems to me to be the vital necessity of personal holiness in the Christian Minister, in order to the right working of the Christian Ministry; a personal holiness which shall be no mere form moulded from without but a life developed into manifestation and action from within.

Never did the Church of Christ more need to remember this than at the present day. The strongest surface currents of the age are against it; alike that of unregulated, hurrying, indiscriminate enterprize, and that of an exaggerated ecclesiasticism. In the one case the worker's communion with God tends to be sacrificed to the work, the fountain choked for the sake of the stream. In the other case there is a serious risk that "the Church" may come to be regarded as an almost substitute for the Lord in matters affecting the life and growth of the Christian man, and of course of the Christian Minister. Sacred are the claims of order and cohesion, but more sacred and more vital still is the call to the individual constituent of the community to come to the living Personal Christ, "nothing between," and to abide in innermost intercourse with Him, and to draw every hour by faith on His great grace.

If these simple pages may at all, in His most merciful hands, promote the holy cause of such a hidden life and its fruitful issues, it will indeed be happiness to the writer. In these days of stifling materialism in philosophy, and withering naturalism in theology, but in which also the Holy Spirit, far and wide, is breathing upon us in special mercy from above, there is no duty more pressing on the Christian than to seek, in the world of work, after that life which is "lived in the flesh by faith in the Son of God," and which is manifested in the strong and patient "meekness of wisdom."

RIDLEY HALL, CAMBRIDGE, April 22nd, 1892.

"Servant of God, be fill'd With Jesu's love alone; Upon a sure foundation build, On Christ the corner-stone; By faith in Him abide, Rejoicing with His saints; To Him with confidence, when tried, Make known all thy complaints."





Need of watching and prayer over three departments of a Minister's life—The secret department—Temptations in it from work—From solitude—Secret Devotion—The Morning Watch—Physical precautions—Evening hours—A Minister's prayers must sometimes forget the Ministry—This will be to the advantage of the Ministry—"Tell Him all" 1



Secret intercourse with God the life of a Minister's life—The Example of Jesus Christ—Testimony of von Machtholf—Special need of divine communion at the present day—The cry for effort and enterprize—Secularizing theories of religion and the Ministry—A call to young English Clergymen—A caution from Laodicea—Study of the Holy Scriptures—"The New Testament about twice a week"—What says the Ordinal?—M. Henri Lasserre on Devotional Literature and the Gospels—Study the Bible unprofessionally—Bridges' quotation from Witsius—Ridley in the Orchard 21



A fragmentary chapter—Higher Criticism—A technical and innocent term—Actual assertions of certain critics—"Do not follow this Book; follow Christ"—Weigh facts before theories—Testimony of Nature and History to Scripture—The Duke of Argyll in the Nineteenth Century—Prediction—Problem of the Human Knowledge of Jesus Christ—Current fulfilments of Prophecy—Methods of Bible Study—The plough—The spade—Specimen of spade-husbandry, in a Church Congress Study of the Epistle to the Philippians 45



Secret Communion with God must accompany everything else—We are watched—Self-respect—Consistency largely means Considerateness—"A consistent gentleman"—The Tongue—St Augustine's couplet for the dinner-table—The Clergy-House, its opportunities and risks—The duty of Example—Is it remembered as it used to be?—"For their sakes I sanctify Myself"—"Others" and their claims on us—Manner—Temper—Simeon's patience—The Secret of the Presence 79



"Take heed unto thyself"—Relations with Woman—Christian chivalry—And Christian caution—Special difficulties—"Know thyself"—Celibacy—The Clergyman's Wife—The problem of means—The Clergyman and money—Pecuniary intemperance—Accurate accounts—Investment circulars—"Lay not up for yourselves" 101



Curate and Incumbent—A Chancellor on Curates—The ideal Incumbent—No Incumbent perfect—And no parish perfectly content—Loyal watchfulness needed accordingly—The Curate's Party—"The lost grace, humility"—Subordination—Take sides against yourself—A letter to The Record on Curates' grievances. 123



A boundless subject—Visiting—All-important—Prepare for the round with prayer—Method—Brevity but not hurry—An example—Courtesy—It must be impartial—Visitation of the sick—Its special demands—Punctuality always a duty—Use of the Bible—The advantage of coming as "the Clergyman"—Mistaken for the undertaker—Come to the point—Lying in wait for the occasion—Happy rebukes to timid reticence 147



Teach as you go—Urgent need of teaching—About Christ—And the Holy Spirit—And Sacraments—Common mistakes about the teaching of the Church—Sin—Evidences—Recollections of a visiting round—The retired tradesman—The sceptical blacksmith—The invalid artizan—The civil-servant—The consumptive—The dying printer—The cripple—Aged poor saints—Saddening visits—Humbling memories—A bright conversion at eighty-two 173



"As bad as inspired"—Imperfections in the Book—Yet it is priceless—Spirituality of the Prayer Book—What it takes for granted in the worshipper—A remarkable reason for secession—The Prayer Book as a weapon—Its Scripturality—Its compilers jealous for the Word of God—Ministerial use of the Prayer Book—Put yourself into it—We are not to preach the prayers—Yet we are to pray them—Reading of the Lessons—Baptism—Marriage—Burial—The Holy Communion—Reverence—Of what sort—Instruction-addresses on the Prayer Book—"Less worship" 201



The Pulpit a central point in the Ministry—Mutual influence of "parish-work" and preaching—"Truth through personality"—Let us "labour in the Word"—"Litho Sermons"—Addison's village-parson and his sermons—Attractive preaching—Is a duty—Audibility—Of the right sort—Good English—Why to be cultivated—Mr Spurgeon's style—French hearers of an English preacher—Good effects on his style—"Written or extempore?"—Length—Action 225



Further remarks on Attractiveness—And, in passing, on Ministerial Considerateness—This is to be practised in preaching—As well as in other functions—Attractiveness to be guarded by Faithfulness—Requisites to attractiveness—"Preach the Gospel earnestly, interestingly, fully"—Jesus Christ is the Gospel—Personal conviction the essence of Earnestness—"Matter-of-Fact"—Interest sustained by anecdote and illustration—But still more by intelligibility and practicality—Expository sermons—Fulness in the message—Jesus Christ for us—And in us—The Holy Spirit must work with the Word 249



Notes from a Sermon-Lecture—On diction, arrangement, fidelity to the text, proportion of parts, accuracy—On statements about revelation, justification, faith, grace—A paper in The Churchman on Old Sermons—Be a preacher indeed, whatever be the fashion of the time—The Directory of 1645—Its instructions on "the Preaching of the Word"—Spiritual Power in Preaching—How sought and received—Farewell 273

Fordington Pulpit 301

"What contradictions meet In Ministers' employ! It is a bitter sweet, A sorrow full of joy; No other post affords a place For equal honour or disgrace"


"The Interpreter had Christian into a private Room, and bid his Man open a Door; the which when he had done, Christian saw a Picture of a very grave Person hang up against the Wall, and this was the fashion of it: It had eyes lift up to Heaven, the best of Books was in its hand, the Law of Truth was written upon its lips, the World was behind his back; it stood as if it Pleaded with Men, and a Crown of gold did hang over its head."




Pastor, for the round of toil See the toiling soul is fed; Shut the chamber, light the oil, Break and eat the Spirit's bread; Life to others would'st thou bring? Live thyself upon thy King.

Let me explain in this first sentence that when in these pages I address "my Younger Brethren," I mean brethren in the Christian Ministry in the Church of England. Let me limit my reference still further, by premising that very much of what I say will be said as to brethren who have lately taken holy Orders, and are engaged in the work of assistant Curacies.


Day by day, for many years past, my life has lain among men preparing themselves for just that work. As a matter of course my thoughts have run incessantly in that direction. Many a lecture in the library where we work together, and many a conversation in dining-hall, or by study fire, or in college garden, or on country road, has given point to those thoughts and enabled me, I trust, better to understand my younger Brethren, and with more sympathy to make myself, as an elder brother, understood by them. What I here seek to do, with the gracious aid of our blessed Master, is somewhat to extend the range of such talks, and to ask a friendly hearing from younger Brethren in the holy Ministry with whom I have never had the opportunity of speaking personally.

I have not the least intention of writing a treatise on the Christian Pastorate. To talk to young Christian Ministers about some important details of pastoral life and work, but above all of life, inward and outward—this is my simple purpose.

* * * * *


One day in each week, at Ridley Hall, we unite in special prayer, without liturgical form, for those members of the Hall who have gone out into actual ministry. As I lead my dear younger Brethren in that supplication, the heart feels itself full of many, very many, well-remembered faces, characters, lives. It seems to see those many old friends scattered abroad in the Lord's work-field; and it sees, of course, a very large variety among them, in the way of both character and circumstances. But, with all this consciousness of differences, my thoughts and my petitions always, by a deep necessity, run for all alike along three main paths. The first prayer is for the young Clergyman's inner and secret Life and Walk with God. The second is for his daily and hourly general Intercourse with Men. The third is for his official Ministrations of the Word and Ordinances of the Gospel. And in all these directions, after all, one desire, one prayer, has to be offered, the prayer that everywhere and always, from the inmost recesses of life to its largest and most public circumference, the Lord and Master may take, and keep, full possession of the servant. I pray that in secret devotion, and in secret habits, Jesus Christ may be intensely present with the man; and that in common intercourse, in all its parts, He may be the constant and all-influencing Companion, to stimulate, to control, to chasten, to gladden, to empower; and that in the preaching of the Word the servant may really and manifestly speak from, and for, and in, his Lord; and that in ministration of the sacramental and other Ordinances he may truly and unmistakably walk before Him in holy simplicity, holy reverence, and full spiritual reality, "serving the Lord," and serving the flock, "with all humility of mind." [Acts xx. 19.]

My present talks on paper will take very much the lines of these prayers. Secret walk with God, common and general walk with men, special ministrations—I desire to say a little on each and all of these points, and more or less in this order, though without attempting too rigid an arrangement, where one subject must often run over into another.

* * * * *


Let me take up the first great topic of the three for a few preliminary words in this chapter: THE SECRET WALK WITH GOD of the young Pastor of Christ's flock.


My brotherly reader will not need any long explanation or careful apology from me here. He knows as well as I do, on the one hand, that a close secret walk with God is unspeakably important in pastoral life, and, on the other hand, that pastoral life, and not least in its early days, is often allowed to hinder or minimize the real, diligent work (for it is a work indeed in its way) of that close secret walk. He finds all too many possible interferences with the inner working on the part of the outer. Such interferences come from very different quarters. The new Curacy, the new duties and opportunities, if the man has his heart in his ministry, will prove intensely interesting, and at first, very possibly, encouragement and acceptance may predominate over experiences of difficulty and trial. Services, sermons, visits to homes and to schools, with all the miscellanies that attend an active and well-ordered parochial organization—these things are sure to have a special and exciting interest for most young men who have taken Orders in earnest. And it will be almost inevitable that the Curate, under even the most wise, considerate, and unselfish of Incumbents, should find "work" threatening rapidly to absorb so much, not of time only but thought and heart, that the temptation is to abridge and relax very seriously indeed secret devotion, secret study of Scripture, and generally secret discipline of habits, that all-important thing.


Then, on the other hand, there is a risk and trial from a region quite opposite. The Curate comes to his new work, and takes up his abode in lodgings—alone. Only a few months ago, perhaps only a few weeks ago, he was in rooms at College, amidst all the social as well as mental interests of University life, and (so it is, thank God, for many University men now) feeling on every side the help of Christian friendship and fellowship of the warmest and truest sort. And now, socially and as to fellowship in Christ, he is, to speak comparatively, alone. I say, comparatively. Very likely he has found in his Incumbent a friend and elder brother, perhaps a friend and loving father, in the Lord. And most probably he will find among his people, and that very soon if he is on the watch, friends in Christ, gentle or simple. He may be associated with a brother Curate or Curates; and if so, the inmost aim of both or all ought to be, and in most cases will be, not only to work in the same parish but to work heart to heart as "in Him." Nevertheless, the Vicar or Rector, though a friend, is a very busy friend; and so is the brother Curate; and the Christian friend in the parish is after all only one of the many souls to whom the man has to minister, and he must not forget those who perhaps need him most just because they are least congenial to him.


So the sense of change, of solitude, in such part of his life as is spent indoors, may be, and, as I know, very often is, real and deep, sad and sorrowful, and in itself not wholesome, to the young Minister of Christ. Possibly my reader knows nothing of all this; but I think it more likely that at least he knows something of it. And it needs his prompt and watchful dealing if it is not to hurt him greatly. Solitude will not by itself, if I judge rightly, help him to secret intercourse with God. A feeling of solitude, under most circumstances, much more tends, by itself, to drive a man unhealthily inward, in unprofitable questionings and broodings, or in still less happy exercises of thought. Or it drives him unhealthily outward, quickening the wish for mere stimulants and excitements of mind and interest. Aye, let me not shrink from saying it, it sometimes quickens a wish for "stimulants" in the most literal sense of the word. Exhausting and multifarious parochial work, and the lonely bachelor quarters at the day's end, have brought to many a young man sore temptations of that sort, and sometimes they have won the battle, to the wreck and ruin of the work and of the worker.


Well, all these facts or possibilities are just so many reminders that the new Curate's life will not, of itself, greatly help him to maintain and quicken his Secret Walk with God, that vital necessity for his work. It certainly will not do so directly; it will, directly, be a problem, not an aid. But on that very account, dear Brother and reader, your new conditions of life may prove indirectly a most powerful aid, by being a constant and urgent occasion. As you are a Minister of Christ, your life and work will, in the Lord's sight, be a failure, yes, I repeat it, a failure, be the outside and the reputation what they may, if you do not walk with God in secret. But therefore your life and work are a daily and hourly occasion for the positive resolve, in His Name, that walk with Him you will. Recognize the risks, right and left, the risks brought by pastoral activities and interests, and those brought by pastoral loneliness and uncheerfulness. Remember the vital necessity amidst those risks. And then you will the more deliberately purpose and plan how to guard your secret devotions, and how to order your secret hours even when devotion is not your direct duty, so that your Lord shall be indeed there, at the centre, "a living, bright Reality" to you.


Let me plunge into the midst at once, with a few simple suggestions on SECRET DEVOTION.


I ask my younger Brother, then, to keep sacred, with all his heart and will, an unhurried time alone with the Lord, night and morning at the least. I do not intrusively prescribe a length of time. But I do most earnestly say that the time, shorter or longer, must be deliberately spent; and even ten minutes can be spent deliberately, while mismanagement may give a feeling of haste to a much longer season. Do not, I beseech you, minimize the minutes; seek for such a fulness of "the Spirit of grace and of supplications," [Zech. xii. 10.] as shall draw you quite the other way. But if the time, any given night or morning, must be short, let it nevertheless be a time of quiet, reverent, collected worship and confession and petition. One thing assuredly you can do: you can, if you will, secure a real "Morning Watch" before your day's work begins. I do not say it is easy. Young men very commonly sleep sounder and longer than we seniors do; they are not always easy to rouse in a moment. But they can direct some of their energy to contrive against themselves, or rather for themselves, how to secure a regular early rising to meet their Lord. Most ingenious, not to say amusing, are some of the devices which friends of mine have confided to me; schemes and stratagems to get themselves well awake in good time. But after all, in most lodging-houses surely it must be possible to be called early, and to instruct the caller to show no mercy at the chamber door. Anyhow, I do say that the fresh first interview with the all-blessed Master must at all costs be secured. Do not be beguiled into thinking it can be arranged by a half-slumbering prayer in bed. Rise up—if but in loving deference to Him. Appear in the presence chamber as the servant should who is now ready for the day's bondservice in all things but in this, that he has yet to take the day's oath of obedience, and to ask the day's "grace sufficient," and to read the day's promises and commands, at the Master's holy feet.


I do not recommend an unpractical physical mortification as the rule for such early hours with God. Fully believing that there is a place for definite "abstinence" in the Christian (and certainly in the ministerial) life, I do not think that that place is, as a rule, the early morning hour. Very many men only procure a bad headache for the day by beginning any sort of earnest mental effort without food. Such men should take care accordingly to eat a chotee hazaree (as old Indians say), "a little breakfast," however little, before they pray and read. There are appliances, simple and inexpensive, by which the man in lodgings can, without giving any one trouble, provide himself with his cup of cocoa or coffee as soon as he is up; and he will be wise to do something of this sort, if he is a man whose work by day is heavy for both body and spirit, and who is thus specially apt to find the truth of what doctors tell us, that "sleep is, in itself, an exhausting process."

But at any cost, my dear friend and Brother in the Ministry, we must have our Morning Watch with God, in prayer and in His Word, before all the day's action. Not even the earliest possible Church service can rightly take the place of that.


It is obvious to add that punctuality and early hours in the morning will bring into your life another rule; that of punctuality and reasonably good hours at night. No temptation is greater, sometimes, for the man alone than to ignore or break such a rule. And no doubt the exigencies of pastoral life, sometimes, but surely not often, make it hard to keep it. But it is extremely important, for the man who would walk closely and humbly with his God, to end the day deliberately at His feet. And here accordingly is another occasion for watchfulness, and for method, and for will. Do not drift into the night. Have a settled hour when, as a habit, you lay interests and intercourse of other sorts down, and turn unhurried to the holy interview, spreading open your Bible by the lamp, the Bible marked and scored with signs of past research, and then kneeling, or standing, or pacing, for your prayer—your prayer which is to be the very simplest (while most reverent) speech with the Lord.


In such acts of worship, morning and night, thought for others, for dear ones, for parishioners, for colleagues, will have its full place of course. Let it be so, with an ever-growing sense of the preciousness of the work of intercession. But I do meanwhile say to my Brother in Christ, take care that no pre-occupation with things pastoral allows you to forget the supreme need of drawing out of Christ's fulness, and out of the treasures of His Word, for your own soul and life, as if that were the one and solitary soul and life in existence. We Clergy are in danger of becoming too official, too clerical, even in our prayers. We are the Lord's Ministers; we have a cure and charge of souls as the unordained Christian has not; and let us daily remember it, humbly and reverently. But also we are, all the while, sheep of the flock, absolutely dependent on the Shepherd, men who for their own souls' acceptance, and holiness, and heaven, must for themselves "live at the Fountain." We have to serve others, and "lay ourselves out" for them, daily and hourly. But on that very account, that "our selves" may be, if I may say so, worth the laying out, we must see that "our selves" are, in their own innermost life and experience, filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the presence of an indwelling Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit. And so we must worship Him, and draw on Him, and abide in Him, and acquaint ourselves with Him, just as if there were no flock at all, that we may the better be of use to the flock.


I am sure that this is an important point for the thought and practice of the young Clergyman. While never really forgetting his ordained character, let him, for the very purposes of his ordained work, continually "live behind" not only the work but the character; living in the presence, in the love, in the life, of his Lord and Head, simply in the character of the redeemed sinner, the personal believer, the glad younger Brother of the glorious Firstborn, the living Christian with the living Christ; "knowing whom he has believed," [2 Tim. i. 12.] and walking by faith in Him.


Do you so live, by His grace and mercy? Is the sitting-room and the bedroom of your curacy-lodging the place where you habitually hold intercourse in this holy simplicity with Him who has loved you and given Himself for you? Then I venture to say that all the more for this, by that same grace and mercy, you shall be enabled to "lay yourself out" for others, in your pastoral charge. You shall understand other men better, by thus securing for your own soul a deeper understanding of the Lord Jesus and a fuller sympathy (if the word is reverent) with Him. I hardly care to analyze how, but somehow, you shall more readily and closely "get at" men through this direct, simple, unofficial, unclerical drawing very near indeed to God in Christ. The more you know Him thus at first-hand the more shall you understand alike the needs of the human heart (of which all individual hearts are but various instances), and the supplies that are laid up for all its needs in Him. And so you shall go out among your people armed, equipped, with a truly heaven-given sympathy and tact. True personal intercourse with the Lord, the very closest and deepest, is the very thing to open the whole man out for others, and to teach him how, with a loving intuition, to look into them and "upon their things." [Phil. ii. 4.]


In the next Chapter I shall speak a little more about the young Clergyman's secret devotion, and secret study of the heavenly Word. But enough for the present. And let me close with the quotation of a hymn,[1] a new friend of mine, but already a very dear one, and thankfully added to the treasures of memory. It puts in the simplest form possible, while in a form most beautiful, the vital truth that "intercourse with God is the power for holy service." Happy the young Clergyman whose secret daily life, from its beginning in the "Morning Watch," on through the intercourse and energies of the day, up to the evening hour of weariness and repose, is a translation into experience of that blessed hymn.

[1] By G.M. TAYLOR: Hymns of Consecration and Faith (Second Edition), No. 349.


"When thou wakest in the morning, Ere thou tread the untried way Of the lot that lies before thee Through the coming busy day; Whether sunbeams promise brightness, Whether dim forebodings fall, Be thy dawning glad or gloomy, Go to Jesus—tell Him all!

"In the calm of sweet communion Let thy daily work be done; In the peace of soul out-pouring Care be banish'd, patience won And if earth with its enchantments Seek thy spirit to enthral, Ere thou listen, ere thou answer— Turn to Jesus—tell Him all!

"Then, as hour by hour glides by thee, Thou wilt blessed guidance know; Thine own burthens being lighten'd, Thou canst bear another's woe; Thou canst help the weak ones onward; Thou canst raise up those that fall; But, remember, while thou servest, Still tell Jesus—tell Him all!

"And if weariness creep o'er thee As the day wears to its close, Or if sudden fierce temptation Bring thee face to face with foes— In thy weakness, in thy peril, Raise to heaven a truthful call; STRENGTH AND CALM FOR EVERY CRISIS COME—IN TELLING JESUS ALL."



He that would to others give Let him take from Jesus still; They who deepest in Him live Flow furthest at His will.

I resume the rich subject of Secret Devotion, Secret Communion with God. Not that I wish to enter in detail on either the theory or the practice of prayer in secret; as I have attempted to do already in a little book which I may venture here to mention, Secret Prayer. My aim at present, as I talk to my younger Brethren in the Ministry, is far rather to lay all possible stress on the vital importance of the habit, however it may prove best in individual experience to order it in practice. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" [Prov. xxiii. 7.]; and as a life worketh in its heart, so is it. And the heart of a Christian Minister's life is the man's Secret Communion with God.

Let us Clergymen take as one of our mottoes that deeply suggestive word of the Lord by Malachi, where the ideal Levi is depicted: "He walked with Me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity." [Mal. ii. 6.]


Remember with what a heavenly brightness that principle was glorified in the recorded life on earth of "the great Shepherd of the sheep," [SN: Heb. xiii. 20.] who in this also "left us an example, that we should follow His steps." [1 Pet. ii. 22.] Never did man walk more genuinely with men than the Son of Man, whether it was among the needy and wistful crowds in streets or on hill-sides, or at the dinner-table of the Pharisee, or in the homes of Nazareth, Cana, and Bethany. No Christian was ever so "practical" as Jesus Christ. No disciple ever so directly and sympathetically "served his own generation by the will of God" [Acts xiii. 36.] as did the blessed Master. But all the while "His soul dwelt apart" in the Father's presence, and there continually rested and was refreshed, [John iv. 32, 34.] and there found the "meat" in the strength of which He travelled that great pilgrimage by way of the Cross to the Throne. Jesus Christ, our Exemplar as well as our Life, did indeed live behind His work, behind His ministry, behind His ministerial character, in the region of a Filial Communion in which His Father was His all in all for peace and joy, His law of action and His eternal secret of life. And observe, this habitual communion in the midst of active service did not at all supersede in His blessed experience the stated and definite work of worship and petition before and after the busy hours of service. "He was alone, praying" [John vi. 57.]; "He continued all night in prayer to God"; and at last, "He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed." [Luke ix. 18; vi. 12; xxii. 41.]

All this is not only matter for wondering notice, as we read our New Testament. It is example, it is model. The Head is thus showing His members the way, the only way, to maintain a life among men and for men which shall be full of good for them, because itself ever filled with the life and presence of God.


From a leaflet which came long ago into my hands, I quote the experience of a German Christian, eminently successful in spiritual work; a passage which will illustrate and bring home my appeal in this whole matter:—

"When Lucius von Machtholf was asked how he carried on religious intercourse with individuals, he wrote:—'I know no other tactics than first of all to be heartily satisfied with my God, even if He should favour me with no sensible visible blessing in my vocation. Also to remember that preaching and conversation are not so much my work as the outcome of the love and joy of the Holy Ghost in my heart, and, afterwards, on my lips. Further, that I must never depend upon any previous fervour or prayers of mine, but upon God's mercy and Christ's dearly-purchased rights and holy intercession; and cherishing a burning love to Christ and to souls, I must constantly seek for wisdom and gentleness.... Finally, I would guard myself from imagining that I know beforehand what I should say, but go to Christ for every good word I have to speak, even to a child, and submit myself to the Holy Spirit, as the Searcher of hearts, who, knowing the individuals I have to do with, will guide and teach me when, where, and how to speak.

"'Be always following, never going before. It were better to be sick in a tent under a burning sun, and Jesus sitting at the tent door, than to be enchanting a thousand listeners where Jesus was not. Be as a day-labourer only in God's harvest-field, ready to be first among the reapers in the tall corn, or just to sit and sharpen another's sickle. Have an eye to God's honour, and have no honour of your own to have an eye to. Lay it in the dust and leave it there. Never let your inner life get low in your search for the lives of others.'"

I dare to say that this quotation contains no mere "counsels of perfection," but principles which are indispensable for the Minister of Jesus Christ who would be not only reputable, popular, and in the superficial sense of the word successful, but—what his dear Master would have him be for His work. And the blessed spirit it suggests and exemplifies is a thing which cometh not in "but by prayer" and by at least such fasting as takes the shape of a most watchful secret self-discipline. When von Machtholf speaks of "never depending on previous prayers" it is obvious what he means; not that prayer should not precede work, but that nothing should satisfy the worker short of a living and present trust in a living and present Lord. But that trust is the very thing which is developed, and prepared, and matured, in the life of genuine secret intercourse, in which the Lord is dealt with as man dealeth with his friend, and gazed upon and (I may reverently say) studied in His revealed Character, till the disciple does indeed "know whom he has believed," "who He is that he should believe on Him." "My soul shall be satisfied ... when I remember Thee, when I meditate on Thee, in the night watches," [2 Tim. i. 12; John ix. 36; Ps. lxiii. 5, 6.] aye, and in the Morning Watch also.


I know not how to get away from this subject; not only because of its intense connexion with the most blissful experiences of the believing soul, but because of its unspeakably important bearing on the work of the Ministry, the Ministry of our own time and of my reader's own generation. Never was there a period when the cry for enterprize and practical energy was louder; and God knows there is occasion enough for the cry, and for the answering resolve. But never was there a time when the need was greater to distinguish true from false secrets of energy, and to be content with nothing short of the deepest and most divine as our ultimate secret. Do you not well know what I mean? Is there not far and wide in the "Christian world"—I do not speak now of the exterior regions of avowed scepticism or indifference—a tendency to merge the whole idea of religion in that of philanthropic benevolence, and thereby to draw inevitably the idea of philanthropy downward in the end into its least noble manifestations? Is it not a fashionable thing to regard the Christian Ministry, for example, as a useful and ready mechanism with which to work out the social and sanitary amelioration of the lives of the multitude, and so to take him to be the best qualified Clergyman who is, perhaps, the most "muscular" of Christians, or the cleverest at the invention or superintendence of recreations on a large scale, or the quickest student and exponent of the principles or theories of political economy, or possibly of socialistic enterprize? But all this may leave entirely out the very life-blood of what the New Testament means by the Gospel of the grace of God; and in many, many cases it does entirely leave it out.


A conception of "Church work" is widely entertained, and thought to be adequate, out of which is practically dropped all the mystery, and all the mercy; above all, the work and message of the atoning Cross and the dying Lamb; and the need of the sovereign grace of the Holy Ghost to begin and carry out the Regeneration of the soul; and the depth of our Fall; and the offered greatness and splendour of our New Creation; and "that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." [Tit. ii. 13.] It is just one wave of the great anti-supernatural tide of our time. Christian work is viewed as much as possible as man's work for man in this present world, under the example, doubtless, of the beneficent life of our Lord, but not under the shadow of Calvary, nor in the light of Pentecost, nor in the definite prospect of an immortality of holy glory.


To counteract this tendency, and to do so in the right way, is one of the very noblest tasks set before the younger Clergy of the English Church in our time. It is for them, under God, in a pre-eminent degree, to find out the secret, and then to live it out, how to be at once the perfectly genuine man, devoted to the service of men, carrying what he is and what he believes into the actual surroundings of modern life, not allowing illusions and poetic day-dreams to come between him and facts; and also the convinced, unwavering, spiritual Christian, conversant with his own soul, and with his living Lord and Saviour, and with that sacred, unalterable written Word which that Saviour put into His people's hands, never to be taken out of them. Nothing is more wanted at present in the sphere of "Church life and work," unless I am greatly mistaken, than a generation of young Clergymen (soon to be seniors) who shall conspicuously combine the best forms of practicality with an unmistakable chastened personal spirituality which is seen to be "the pulse of" their busy "machine." And if the spirituality is to be indeed genuine (away with it if it is anything but genuine to the centre), if it is to be quite different on the one hand from a thing of artificial phrases, and on the other from merely formulated and regulated devoutness, I am deeply sure that its only secret and preservative is a fully-maintained secret walk with God.


"I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." [SN: Rev. iii. 17.] Such was the thought and word of the Laodicean long ago. Is it not in effect the thought, if not the word, of not a few hard workers and energetic enterprizers now? "What do I want with the dialect of 'Christian experience'? What have I, with all these irons in the fire, and a strong hammer and a strong hand with which to strike them, what have I to do with 'old-world faiths' about sin and salvation, about grace and conversion, about pardon and justification? What have I so pressingly to do with much prayer, save in the form of much work? God, I thank Thee that I am a worker; let it be for others to dive into spiritual secrets, if it is good for them to do so."


I would not overdraw the picture. And the words I have put into a possible mouth are words which, if I heard, I hope I should hear with every wish to judge them fairly and to see where any truth lay in them. But none the less I am sure that those words not unjustly represent a type of thought widely prevalent among even ministerial workers, and that it is a type of thought pregnant with disaster for Christian work. "Thou knowest not that thou art poor"; "I counsel thee, to buy of Me"; "I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me." [Rev. iii. 17, 18, 20.] So said Jesus Christ to the Laodicean. And though it may seem paradoxical to compare a man involved in the rush of modern "Church work" with the Laodicean, the comparison may not be always far astray, nor the words of the Lord in Rev. iii. 18 out of place accordingly. To be "neither cold nor hot" towards Him is all too possible for us, alas, even when "the irons in the fire" are most numerous, and even when they are being most briskly hammered.


So let us listen, making a pause to do so. Perhaps just now the knock may be audible, and certain articulate sounds may come from outside, saying that a PERSON waits for readmission to HIS place in our busy, multifarious life, and that HE can be content with nothing short of heart-intimacy with us, and that we, if we would not forsake our own mercy, must be content with nothing short of heart-intimacy with HIM.

"I counsel thee to buy of Me." Let us do it; let us pay over, at His feet, our poor fancied wealth of self's energies and undertakings (as regards our own good opinion of them), receiving from Him the heavenly "gold" of His own glorious grace and peace, and the "white robe" of a living and loving conformity to His likeness, and the "eye-salve" of His illumination, in which we see things as He sees them. It is better, as von Machtholf says it is, to have Him within the heart's chamber, at once as Guest and as Host, in that blessed inter-communion, than to be apparently the most successful of organizers or of toilers, strong in ourselves, but without the secret of the Presence of the Lord.

It is scarcely needful, I trust, to explain what I do not mean. My very last intention is to speak slightingly of devoted work and self-sacrificing endeavours, whether or no they take the line which most approves itself to me. A faineant in the English Ministry to-day is something worse than even a cumberer of the ground; he is, I dare to say, like a upas upon it, blighting where he throws his shadow, so conspicuous and so deadly must be the example of such a life in the Minister of such a Gospel. But what I mean, again and again, is this, that the days demand, along with a thoroughgoing while prudent practicality, more and more also of a profound reality of spiritual knowledge of the Lord in those who labour in His Name. With the growing stress of our time we must have not less but more of this, in those who are called to meet that stress. This is vital, if we would not be stifled and succumb as Christians altogether.

So this is my plea, dear Brother in the Ministry, now making your first essays in some great city parish, or wherever it may be: cultivate, as for your life, secret intercourse with God.


And with this view, I now say specially, cultivate such intercourse laying His holy Word open before you. I spoke in the previous Chapter of the Bible spread open by the evening lamp, the Bible marked with signs of diligent search. With all my heart I mean to press that thought. It will be best to reserve for another Chapter certain suggestions on methods of Bible study. But I may, and I will at once, offer a few words on the subject in general. It is a subject which lies near my heart, and of the urgent importance of which I am very sure.


Above all then I would entreat you to be a Bible student at whatever cost of other religious reading. It is a very common thing to substitute, practically, for the Bible a little library of livres de piete, as the French would call them, small "good books." Not very long ago, in the course of an ordination examination, I came across an instructive instance. In answer to a question in a "Pastoral Paper" for candidates for Priest's Orders, a thoughtful young Clergyman stated incidentally that he used every day with great profit certain devotional books, and that about twice a week he took for definite meditation and prayer a passage from the Gospels. It struck me that here was a strange and sad inversion of the right order of proportion; devotional books daily, and the New Testament (in any sense of earnest meditative study) about twice a week! Very different, I thought, is the view and teaching of the Church of England in this matter of the spiritual reading of her Ministers. What does the Church say, through the Bishop, when the Deacon is ordained Presbyter? "Seeing that you cannot by any other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures.... We have good hope that you will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost; that, by daily reading and weighing of the Scriptures, ye may wax riper and stronger in your Ministry."

And I need not go about to prove that the Church does not mean such daily "reading and weighing" to wait till the young man is actually ordained Priest. We should scarcely have had the First Homily of the First Book written, if such had been her mind. Have you ever read over that "Voice of the Church"?


A remarkable confirmation of my present contention comes to us from an unexpected quarter. I refer to the Preface prefixed by that ardent Roman Catholic, M. Henri Lasserre, to his remarkable French translation of the Four Gospels, the book which, December 4, 1886, received the cordial benediction of Leo XIII., but within a twelvemonth, such is "the power behind the Pope," was placed on the Index Expurgatorius. Probably such passages as the following had much to do with this strange and sudden self-reversal of the judgment of the Vatican.

"A timid school," after the crisis of the Reformation, which finds, of course, little favour with M. Lasserre, and on which, very unjustly, he lays much of the blame of the practical prohibition of the Bible within "the Catholic Church," "a timid school tended thenceforth to strike from the hands of believers the divine Book which makes the foundation of our faith, and laboured to substitute for it by degrees a pious literature, intended to furnish hearts and minds with a nourishment suited to their weakness, a diet without danger. Some of these books, we own without hesitation, are excellent in themselves, and have contributed to the sanctification of many souls. However, this is the exception. In the majority of these works, where, alas, the sugar of devotion takes the place of the salt of wisdom, the eternal truths and the genuine teachings of the Gospel were soon diluted, and, as it were, lost in strange waters.... One and all, the better specimens and the deplorable (les lamentables) alike, they are another thing altogether, yes, absolutely another thing, than the Gospel, whose apostolic mission they have noiselessly usurped by an invasion insensible, I had almost called it clandestine.... The general ignorance of the Gospels has been the one cause in France, these twenty years, of the success of the scandalous romance which appeared under the title of La Vie de Jesus. Among a people moderately familiar with the narratives of St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and St John ... there would have been no need to refute it. Every one would have seen, without assistance, its flagrant falsifications, its gross sophisms, its absolute emptiness. This deep-seated and complex evil, this enervation of the Christian spirit, this anaemia (cette anemie) of so many among us, are an object of sorrowful anxiety (preoccupation) for the Catholic thinker" (pp. x, xxv).


For the Protestant thinker too, within a Church which has now for centuries, in every possible official way, pressed home the reading of the Bible upon her every member, and of course upon her every Minister, there is material for similar anxieties, mutatis mutandis. Bible study, such as our Lord and the Apostles enjoined and encouraged, is not on the increase amongst us, to say the least of it; certainly the ignorance of the blessed Book even among candidates for holy Orders is sometimes, is not seldom, very great indeed. Nay more, there is sometimes, however rarely as yet, an ominous disposition even in clerical circles to shelve the Bible. Quite lately I heard, on excellent authority, that a certain large Clerical Society, revising its rules, deliberately decided that the meetings shall not in future be begun with the reading of Scripture. My friend and Brother, do not swim even on the edges of such a current. Swim with all your might, in your Master's might, against it.


Then lastly I put in my plea, as I sought to do when we were considering the matter of secret prayer, for such a secret study of the Word of God as shall be unprofessional, unclerical, and simply Christian. Resolve to "read, mark, and inwardly digest" so that not now the flock but the shepherd, that is to say you, "may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life." It will be all the better for the flock. Forget sometimes, in the name of Jesus Christ, the pulpit, the mission-room, the Bible-class; open the Bible as simply as if you were on Crusoe's island, and were destined to live and die there, alone with God. You will be all the fresher, all the more sympathetic and to the point, when you do come to speak to the listening people about the Book. The discoveries which we make in it for our own souls are just the things which we cannot help reporting so as to interest and attract our brethren; as least, that is the sure tendency of things.


Let me write out a slightly abbreviated extract from a golden book, unhappily no longer in print, The Christian Ministry, by that diligent student, loving and laborious Pastor, and heavenly-minded man, the remembrance of whom shines on me like a ray reflected from the Chief Shepherd's face, the late Rev. Charles Bridges.[2]

[2] He died at Hinton Martell, in Dorset, 1869.

"The maxim, Bonus textuarius est bonus theologus, marks a grand ministerial qualification—'mighty in the Scriptures.' The importance of this is beautifully expressed by Witsius: 'Let the theologian ascend from the lower school of natural study to the higher department of Scripture, and sitting at the feet of God as his teacher, learn from His mouth the hidden mysteries of salvation, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, which none of the princes of this world knew; which the most accurate reason cannot search out; which the heavenly chorus of angels, though always beholding the face of God, desire to look into. In the hidden book of Scripture, and nowhere else, are opened the secrets of the most sacred wisdom. Let the theologian delight in these sacred Oracles; let him exercise himself in them day and night; let him meditate in them; let him live in them; let him draw all his wisdom from them; let him compare all his thoughts with them; let him embrace nothing in religion which he does not find there. The attentive study of the Scriptures has a sort of constraining power. It fills the mind with the most splendid form of heavenly truth. It soothes the mind with an inexpressible sweetness; it satisfies the sacred hunger and thirst for knowledge; ... it imprints its own testimony so firmly on the mind, that the believing soul rests on it with the same security as if it had been carried up into the third heaven and heard it from God's own mouth; it touches all the affections, and breathes the sweetest fragrance of holiness upon the pious reader, even though he may not perhaps comprehend the full extent of his reading.... We ought to draw our views of divine truths immediately from the Scriptures themselves, and to make no other use of human writings than as indices marking those chief points of theology from which we may be instructed in the mind of the Lord'" (pp. 79, 80, ed. 1830).

* * * * *


"In thy Orchard, Pembroke Hall," wrote Nicholas Ridley within a few days of his fiery martyrdom, "(the wals, buts, and trees, if they could speake, would beare me witnes), I learned without booke almost all Paules epistles, yea, and I weene all the Canonicall epistles, save only the Apocalyps. Of which study, although in time a great part did depart from me, yet the sweete smell thereof I trust I shall cary with me into heaven; for the profite thereof I thinke I have felt in all my lyfe tyme ever after."

And so shall it be with us also, if we go and do likewise in our "lyfe tyme," our period, not at present of martyrdom but, God knoweth it, of need.



Like those Emmaus travellers we go Forth from the city-gate of things below; Christ at our side, His Scripture for our light, Here burning hearts and there the beatific sight.

Already I have broken ground to some extent in the all-important subject of private Bible Study. Let me now put before my reader and Brother a few more detailed remarks and suggestions on that subject. Such is the holy Book, and such is the variety of possible modes of study, that all I can dream of doing is to touch some parts and sides of the matter which present themselves with special impressiveness to my own mind, or which experience of the needs of friends has suggested to me somewhat particularly.


To discuss the sacred problems of Scripture Inspiration is not my purpose here. Elsewhere[3] I have attempted to deal with some of them. All I would do here is, in view of what is truly a "present necessity," to ask my Brethren, very deliberately, not to be in haste to take up with the last and boldest word of what is called the Higher Criticism (I speak particularly now of its application to the Old Testament), as if its "advances" were always towards light and fact. I have no complaint against the term Higher Criticism, which has a recognized place in literary technical language, denoting that familiar and lawful process, the study of books not for their grammar and style only, but in order to infer from their whole phenomena what their age is, and their structure, and their character. The Higher Criticism is a term pointing not to methods and results transcending ordinary intelligence, but to a study which aims "higher" than grammatical and textual questions considered as final. And thus of course the most earnest defender of the supernatural character of the Scriptures may be, and very often is, as diligent a "higher critic" as the extremest anti-supernaturalist.

[3] Veni Creator, ch. iii


It is not its definition in the abstract but its actual work and spirit, as seen in many leading instances, which constrain me to enter an earnest protest against a too easy confidence in this criticism of, particularly, the Old Testament Scriptures. It is "a thing to give us pause" when we are asked to accept it as proved, or at least as extremely probable, that righteous Abel is a myth; that there was little, if any, monotheism before Abraham; no theophany at Sinai; no Wilderness-Tabernacle; no record of the conquest of Canaan written till long generations after the event; not much written record at all till Samuel; few, if any, Psalms before the age of the Captivity, if not before the age of the Maccabees; certainly two if not more Isaiahs, and probably hardly one Daniel; at least, that the book bearing his name dates from the second century before Christ, and is in fact a Palestinian story-book which has not, perhaps, even a nucleus of history within it. It ought to make us stop and think when we are told that Isaiah did not predict coming events; indeed (for the drift of this teaching goes very strongly in that direction), that predictive prophecy is hardly to be recognized anywhere; that it is better out of our thoughts; that it is but "soothsaying" after all, and that the true work of the prophet was not to fore-tell but to "forth-tell," to proclaim present and eternal principles, which again were not revealed to him from above but arrived at by intuitions and meditations within his own consciousness. It is a grave thing to be asked to believe, as many would have us do, that such was the lack of feeling for veracity in ancient Judah that Hilkiah, Jeremiah, and Huldah could arrange for the "discovery" of a fabricated Deuteronomy, and then (see the narrative in the Second Book of Kings) [xxii. 8-20.] get the prophetess to follow up the fabrication with awful denunciations—all fulfilled—in the name of THE LORD Himself. Such theories we are asked to hold in face of our Master Christ's deliberate, persistent, manifold testimony to the supernatural character and authority of the Old Testament; to the solidity of its records of fact, to the reality of its predictive element—on which He stayed His sacred soul in Gethsemane, and on the Cross itself. It is no longer a question of details, an inquiry whether the numerals are invariably authentic and accurate; whether the minute particulars of a king's death as told in Chronicles tally with the account in Kings. It is a question whether the Old Testament at large is not a singularly and flagrantly untrustworthy record. It is a question whether its literature as a whole is not to be explained, practically, by "natural causes"; including a causation by deliberate, elaborate, and interested untruth.


Is it too much to say that the alternative has come to be this: Was our Lord Himself right or very gravely wrong about the nature of Scripture? Did the Spirit of Pentecost guide the Apostles into all truth, or leave them under a vast illusion in this central matter of their witness? "Do not follow this Book, young men; follow Christ": so said a speaker of high Christian reputation, holding up a Bible, before a great gathering in America, not long ago. But what does this mean? Christ carries the Book in His hand; if you follow Him you must follow it. If you decline to follow the Book, your following Him is a following—so far as at present you agree with Him, and not further.


Meantime, what are some facts of the case, facts not nearly so well remembered now as they should be? One comprehensive fact is that the testimony of nature and of history goes, as a whole, to affirm the veracity of the Scripture records, and to do so more and more pointedly as research advances. In a remarkable recent essay by the Duke of Argyll (Nineteenth Century, January, 1891), the growing accumulation of geological evidence for a Great Flood, affecting at least the northern hemisphere, and falling within the human period, is forcibly set out by a master hand. In the same paper is indicated the fast-gathering evidence, now digging up month by month from the soil of Palestine, to the accuracy of the picture of Canaan drawn in the Pentateuch and Joshua. The Ordnance Survey of Sinai has amply shown that the geology of the peninsula confirms down to minute details the record in Exodus.[4] And now the Oxford Arabic Professor is making it, at the least, extremely likely that the Hebrew written two centuries before Christ was more modern by many generations than that presented by the Book of Daniel.[5]

[4] See Sir J. DAWSON: Modern Science in Bible Lands, "The Topography of the Exodus."

[5] See MARGOLIOUTH: The Place of Ecclesiasticus in Semitic Literature.

I am only indicating and suggesting. Remembering the curiously similar history of New Testament criticism during the recent past, some of its stages running out their course within my own memory, I cannot but think, looking from the merely literary view-point, that the days are not far off when the now powerful theories of revolutionary criticism will seem improbable. And so I ask my younger Brethren at least to pause before going with the strong, deep stream.


Let me quote a few sentences from the Duke of Argyll's paper:—


"The assumption ... that precision in research is undermining the credit of the Hebrew Scriptures, is a presumption almost comically at variance with fact. There is, in particular, one 'weapon of precision' which has of late been working wonders in precisely the opposite direction. That weapon is the spade. And what has it been unearthing? Everywhere over that narrow strip of our planet on which its human interests have been most impressive and profound—everywhere from Tyre and Sidon, from Carmel and Lebanon, on the west, to Babylon and Nineveh and the boundary mountains of Assyria on the east—the spade has been disentombing continuous and triumphant proof of the genuine antiquity and historical character of the Jewish books.... Only the other day Mr Flinders Petrie has told us how the spade has uncovered those impregnable walls of the Amorite cities which were reported to invading Israel by the spies of Moses....

"I may be permitted to express a very strong opinion that in recent years Christian writers have been far too shy and timid in defending one of the oldest and strongest outworks of Christian theology. I mean the element of true prediction in Hebrew prophecy. It may be true that in a former generation too exclusive attention had been paid to it.... But the reaction has been excessive and irrational. A great mass of connected facts, and of continuous evidence, remains—which cannot be gainsaid. Even if the greater prophets can be brought down to the very latest date which the very latest fancies can assign to them, they depict and predict overthrows and vast revolutions in the East which did not take place for centuries" (pp. 28, 30).[6]

[6] "Professor Huxley speaks of the hopeless position of Christian divines 'raked by the fatal weapons of precision with which the enfants perdus of the advancing forces of science are armed.'... Perhaps he means the small arms of the modern critical school. If he does, then precision is the very last characteristic which belongs to it. Its methods are largely subjective. Here and there it may have a clearly ascertained fact to rest upon. Here and there it may have arrived at some tolerably secure results. But in the main its methods are metaphysical, resting on nothing but individual preconceptions, applying tests and private canons of interpretation which are purely arbitrary" (Ibid., p. 28).

* * * * *


The analysis of prophetic consciousness may be, and in a great measure is, impossible. But the facts of prediction remain. It remains that our Lord Himself predicted. He foretold minutely His own death, and the end of the City and the Temple, and the circumstances of the close of this aeon. Was He "soothsaying"? It remains that He perpetually and most emphatically claimed to be the exact Fulfilment of predictions which, on any hypothesis, were then ages old. Was He mistaken in their character and quality?


In those last words I step, as I well know, upon a field of the most urgent controversy. What is the weight to be assigned to our ever blessed Lord's verdict upon the Old Testament as history and prophecy? It is now asserted, and by Christian men, that that verdict is not final; that He in the days of His flesh so submitted to human limitations that He was liable to mistakes of fact just as His best contemporaries were; that we adore Christ, and rely absolutely on Him, but it is on Christ not as He was but as He is, the glorified Christ. Here is an unspeakably overawing subject. I would not treat of it as if the question could be swept away in a sentence. But I do, as in our living Master's presence, venture to say that His witness to the nature and character of the Old Scriptures claims definitely to be ex cathedra. True, He doubtless spoke in this matter, as elsewhere, not in what may be called the technical style; not every reference of His to "Moses" need necessarily mean to assert precisely that Moses wrote every clause of the Pentateuch. But the present question goes, as we have remembered, much deeper. It asks whether or no the Lord Jesus was altogether and in principle mistaken. He treated the Law, Prophets, and Psalms as a solid structure of historic fact and supernatural promise, divinely planned all through, divinely carried out and up from the foundation, and leading straight up to Himself. Was it all the time true that large parts of them were no more historical than the False Decretals on which the high Papal claims were built?[7]

[7] I may remind the reader that about the middle of the ninth century there were published, by one Isidore, a collection of decisions and decrees, purporting to be by the earliest Bishops of Rome, all supporting the Papal claims as known in the Middle Ages. The collection was afterwards increased, and in the middle of the twelfth century engrafted into Gratian's Decretum, on which is based the Canon Law of the Roman Church. These documents are undoubtedly fabrications long after date.

If we revise the opinion of our Redeemer on this conspicuous point of His teaching, where shall we securely pause? Certainly we cannot securely trust, as oracular and final, His own predictions of things still future, at least in their details.


One great utterance is often quoted as a confession that His conscious knowledge had limits; Mark xiii. 32. Quite true; but what sort of confession is it? It indicates in its very terms the vastness of His supernatural knowledge; asserting His cognizance of the fact that the angels in heaven did not know that day and hour. Such an avowal of nescience is an implicit assertion of an immeasurable insight.

And has He not, as the glorified Christ, thrown a light of affirmation on the "opinions" of the days of His flesh? The glorified Christ sent down the Paraclete. And the first and abiding work of the Paraclete was to illuminate the Apostles with a new understanding of the truth and glory of the Old Scriptures, altogether in the lines of their crucified Master's teaching about them. Unless indeed Resurrection, and Ascension, and Pentecost are themselves to melt into the haze of myth! The New Testament is as full of the supernatural as the Old.

Reverently and humbly, and with full recognition of a large place and lawful work for a true higher criticism in the literature of the Old Testament, and of the New, I yet decline to think that our Lord's estimate of the nature of the Bible is not to be final for me, and that His reasonings from it are to be revised, while yet I adore Him as my Light, my Life, and my God. And I ask my Brethren to pause many times, and on their knees, before they think otherwise.


As regards prediction, let them look around them. Two great fulfilments of Old Testament prediction are going forward at this moment. One is, the vast work of missions, whose whole aim is to make known "to the ends of the earth" the Name of Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham, Son of God. The other is, the dispersion and yet permanence of the Jewish race, and (may I not add, in view of the facts of the last few years?) the beginnings of a re-population of Palestine by the Jews. Credible statistics assure us that they are now returning to their old land at the rate of many thousands in a year. True, no "miracle" brings them back. But no thoughtful student has ever said that the miracle of prediction demands miracle in the circumstances of the fulfilment.


I have gone beyond my intended length in these observations.[8] The present urgency of the subject, which encounters us everywhere, is my apology. But now, all the more gladly for the delay, I hasten to a few simple words of suggestion on that practical duty of Secret Bible Reading which is, after all, the best and surest antidote and preservative against scepticism about the Bible, if it is carried on at once thoroughly, intelligently, and as before the Lord. Vain without it, worse than vain, will be the most diligent and successful study of the apologetics of the Bible. For the Bible was given to be, not a battle-field, but a field of wheat, and pasturage, and flowers, and a gold-field also all the while.

[8] (I) have elsewhere called attention to the following among works helpful at present in the controversy about Scripture: Lord Hatherley's Continuity of Scripture, Dr Waller's Authoritative Inspiration, Dr Cave's Inspiration of the Old Testament. Let me add four able popular tractates: Cave's Battle of the Standpoints (Queen's Printers), Eckersley's Historical Value of the Old Testament (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), G. Carlyle's Moses and the Prophets and Seaver's Authority of Christ (Elliot Stock). Dr Liddon's memorable sermon, The Worth of the Old Testament, is full of helpful suggestions. See too Professor Leathes' Witness of the Old Testament to Christ, Sir J.W. Dawson's Modern Science in Bible Lands, and Bishop Harold Browne's Messiah Foretold. I specially call attention to Canon R. Girdlestone's recent book, the work of a master, The Foundations of the Bible, most temperate, judicial, solid, and establishing; and to this must be added now (1892) Bishop Ellicott's excellent Charge, published by the S.P.C.K. under the title Christus Comprobator.

How then shall I read my Bible so as at once spiritually and mentally to know it, or rather, to be always getting to know it? The answer must be—"at sundry times and in divers manners." I must make time to read often, however brief each time may be. And I must use methods of study, more than one, in parallel lines.

As a sort of ground-work to all other methods I venture first to say, be always reading the Bible through, however slowly, or rapidly. For certain purposes, for instance in order to grasp the scope of a book, as perhaps an Epistle, or the Revelation, or St John's Gospel, or the latter half of Isaiah, or the Book of Genesis,[9] rapid reading may be quite reverently done. In any case, get as soon as you may, and as often as is practicable and practical, over the whole surface. Lord Hatherley, amidst the heavy occupations of a barrister's and judge's life, used to read the whole Book through carefully every year, and this for more than thirty years. I cannot say that I do the same. But I aim to read the Bible over carefully within every few years.

[9] To touch on a very small point I write here "the Book of Genesis," not "the Book Genesis." English literature, if I do not mistake, is as unfamiliar with the latter phrase as it is with "the city London."


Then, practise what I would call the plough-husbandry of the Book. "Make long furrows." Investigate what the Scriptures have to say by topics, by doctrines, by leading words, over great breadths of their surface; keeping that subject, that word, all along in view. Bring all your mind to work that way, in the light of the Presence sought by prayer. An occasional special form of such study may be illustrated by that admirable book, written long ago, but full of life still, the late Professor Blunt's Undesigned Coincidences. I was thankful in my first days of ministry to be led to put in practice its examples and suggestions by ploughing in the field of the New Testament for the coincidences between the Gospel narrative and the allusions to our blessed Lord's life scattered over the Epistles.


Then, practise also a diligent spade-husbandry in your Bible study. Dig as well as plough. In each narrow plot of the great field there are treasures hid. Dig a verse sometimes, using perhaps the spade of parallel references. Dig a paragraph at other times; a chapter; a short book. You are quite sure, under the blessing of the Master of the Field, to bring up rich results, more or less.

I will close my talk upon the Bible by offering a specimen of such spade-husbandry. A few years ago, at the Church Congress at Wakefield, I read a paper on Bible-reading. It mainly took the line of recommending earnestly the use of the Biblical student's "spade," and then it illustrated the recommendation by the following "spade-study" of the Epistle of St Paul to the Philippians; given here just as it was read.

* * * * *


"It has been laid on me to say a few words on the devotional study of the Holy Scriptures, taking some one Book of Scripture, and in some sort exemplifying such study from it. I accept the theme, with a deep sense both of its opportuneness in our busy period, so full of temptations to the Christian Minister to postpone his Bible-study to other things, and of its sacred, paramount, vital importance. May our divine and sovereign Master be pleased to use my simple suggestions to call once more the attention especially of His ordained servants to the urgency of our need to be personal Bible-students before Him, and to the strength and joy that lies in such study, really pursued. He, in the days of His flesh, was the supreme Believer in the Bible, the supreme Lover, Student, Expositor, and Employer of the Bible. With the letter of the Bible He sustained Himself and quelled the Enemy in the Temptation, and the quotations He then selected suggest the minuteness of His study. Upon the written Word He spent the whole Easter afternoon. Accepted Sacrifice for Sin, Conqueror of Death, Lord and Head of Life, He had come that morning from the grave; and He came as it were holding the Scriptures in His hands.

"He found around Him in those earthly days a mass of religious popular opinions, and He spoke His holy mind freely against the false among them. But there was one opinion which He noticed only to sanction, to sanctify, to glorify. It was the opinion that the Scriptures were divine, were charged with the authority of God.

"I pray to Him, and trust Him, my Master and Lord, to hold me now humbly firm to the end, after many a struggle, in His opinion of the Holy Scriptures. I would enter into, as He abode in, their rest; therefore I accept, as He accepted, their yoke. I would feel what He felt, that living incitement to their study which is indissolubly bound up, if I mistake not, with the firm persuasion of their supernatural character and authority. I would read them, as He read them, above all things to act upon them in the life which we, His followers, have in Him; that life whose exercise and outcome means our whole walk here as well as hereafter. I would regard them, as it is apparent that He regarded them, as being (in a sacred sense) self-sufficient; not, indeed, to the self-sufficient reader, but to the reader who prays in reverent simplicity that the Holy Spirit may dispel every moral mist, every hindrance of heart and will, from between him and the meaning of the written Word; and who intends in truthful sincerity to consent to, to obey, the discovered meaning; and who is taking pains over the Book.

"It is a great joy to know how entirely this was the view of the matter held, and loved, and taught in the ancient Church. Is there anything about which there is a larger consent of the Fathers? St Athanasius loves to dilate on the [Greek: autarkeia], the self-sufficingness, of 'the divine Scriptures.' St Cyril of Jerusalem entreats his hearers to guide and fix their belief by the reading of the Canonical books. St Chrysostom boldly accounts for all mischiefs by the lack of personal acquaintance with the Scriptures.

"We are in the nineteenth century, almost in the twentieth, and perhaps we therefore need, even more than our elder brethren of the fourth, to renew our energies in Scripture-study by prayerful, painstaking recollection of what the Book is. We need an ever fresh realization of what it is immortally, unalterably; the divinely trustworthy, and therefore authoritative, account of God's mind, and specially and above all of God's mind concerning Jesus Christ and our relations to Him, our life by Him, our peace, and power, and hope, in Him. And it is a few words about this aspect of Scripture, and the search of Scripture, that I now lay before you, with humility and simplicity of purpose, in the way of a description and example of a sort of study that has been a great blessing to myself.

"Take one of the holy Books, or a section of one of them; and for this purpose shorter is better. By a certain exercise of imagination suppose yourself to be reading a newly-discovered fragment of the apostolic age. Treat it somewhat as many of us have recently sought to treat Bryennius' discovery, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. What microscopic attention has been brought to bear upon that little book, just because good evidence gives it a place in the first century, and because it speaks of Christ, and of Christians; of faith, worship, ministry, and life, in a part of the primeval Church! Now I attempt from time to time, reverently but very simply, to treat some inspired Epistle somewhat in the same way. I place myself before it as much as possible as if it were new to me and others. I seek, with something of the curiosity which such conditions would create, to collect and arrange its theology and its ethics. And then I bring in upon the results of my study the fact that it is God's Word, the Word which I am to embrace, and live upon, and act upon, to-day.

"For example and suggestion, let us turn to the EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS; few but golden pages, precious product of those two years of St Paul's physical imprisonment but blissful spiritual liberty. To stimulate our consciousness of what the Epistle contains to reward search, and search alone, let us try to place it before us as what it is not now, but once was, a newly-given oracle of God. It was once read for the first time, perhaps in the house of Lydia. Let it be to us, so far as thought can make it so, what it was then. And let us remember all the while that it is really even now new, for it is immortal with the breath of the Spirit of God. It not only 'abideth,' but 'liveth,' for ever.

"Let us take two titles under which to classify the results of our inspection of this primitive Document. First, its doctrine of Christ; then, its doctrine of Christian Life. As a subordinate third title we may collect what it indicates of Christian life as exemplified in the Writer's allusions to his own experience.

"I.—The Christology of the Epistle.

"(1) We trace hints of the human history of Christ. He was man, in reality and in seeming; He died a death of suffering, the death of the Cross [ii. 7, 8; iii. 10.]; He rose again, for there is a power of His Resurrection; [iii. 10.] and, apparently, He so left this earth that it was known that an immeasurable exaltation attended His going, so that the heavens are now His seat [ii. 9.], from which He is definitely expected to return. [iii. 20.]

"(2) Going back to antecedent and prehistoric matters of faith about Him, we find here that before He became man He subsisted in possession, lawful and natural, of the manifested reality [Greek: morphe] of Godhead, equal to God [ii. 6.]. His appearance as man was the sequel of His own action of will in that eternal state [ii. 7.]. It was a novel and voluntary assumption of the condition of the Bondservant, the [Greek: Doulos], of God. Antecedently possessing the [Greek: morphe] of God, He now de novo 'took' the [Greek: morphe] of a bondservant. What created beings in general are of course, God's bondservants, He had not been but now became; a fact as astonishing in its region as the fact of His possession of the Supreme Nature is in its region. He assumed this [Greek: douleia], we find, because His essential work was to obey, to 'become obeying,' yes, to the extent of death [ii. 8.]; which death was thus in Him altogether voluntary, part of a free undertaking to be not His own. The immediate result for Himself, it next appears, was an exaltation by God to supreme majesty under all these conditions. As being all this, possessor of Deity and accepter of bondservice, He was now de novo proclaimed as [Greek: Kyrios], as Lord, in a sense interpreted by the adoration of the universe; to the glory of God His Father. For it repeatedly appears in the Epistle that God is His Father; He is the Son of God [ii. 11.]. Further, all 'the riches of God in glory' [i. 2; ii. 11.] are 'in Him.' [iv. 19.] It appears that in His exaltation He is embodied still, for it is to likeness to the body of His glory that the body of our humiliation is to be changed at His expected return. He is Almighty 'to subdue all things,' and the subjugation is 'to Himself.' [iii. 21.]

"(3) As regards His relation to His followers, such is it that their whole life and every exercise of it is mysteriously but emphatically said to be IN HIM. He, the supreme Bondservant, is to them (we continually read) absolute Lord. His grace animates their spirit. The divine Spirit ministered to them is His [i. 2; iv. 23.]. Their 'fruit of righteousness' is generated and produced 'through' Him [i. 19.]. He is evermore and profoundly near to them. Their heart-emotions are 'in His heart.' [i. 11; iv. 5.] To believe in Him is their essential characteristic [i. 8.]. To suffer for Him is a special boon to them [i. 29.]. They live in expectation of His return, His day. [i. 6, 10; ii. 16; iii. 20.]

"II.—The Epistle's account of Christian Life, inward and outward.

"We gather that the disciples are saints, [Greek: hagioi], separated from self and sin to God; brethren to one another; the true Israel, citizens of the City above [i. 1, 14; iii. 3, 20; iv. 21.]. Their being and life are so united to Christ, that they as Christians (and it is evidently assumed that this covers everything for them) exist, and are to act, 'in Him.' In Him, we find, they are 'saints' and 'brethren' [i. 1, 14; iv. 1, 2; ii. 29.]; in Him they are to 'stand fast'; to be 'of one mind'; to 'receive one another'; to possess comfort, consolation; to glory; to rejoice [ii. 1; iii. 1, 3; iv. 4.]. It is solemnly guaranteed, under certain most holy and happy conditions, that 'the peace of God Himself shall'—the promise is positive—'keep safe their hearts and thoughts in Him' [iv. 7.]; wonderful words, but perfectly distinct. In them God 'has begun a good work, to be carried for its completion up to the day of Christ'; and God is now 'working in them to will and to do for the sake of' His plan and purpose [i. 6; ii. 13.]. It is laid upon them accordingly, in the profound inner rest of such union, such possession, such submission, to 'work out their salvation,' to live out their life as the saved, with the 'fear and trembling' of sacred reverence [ii. 12.]. They are 'to look each not on his own things,' but on the things of others, in their Lord's manner [ii. 4.]; to hold together in loving and courageous union for the Gospel, standing fast in 'one soul,' under the 'one Spirit's' power; to keep their place in the midst of evil surroundings as the 'children of God' [i. 28.] and the 'light-bearers' of 'the message of life.' [ii. 16.] They are to abstain totally, in the power of their life in Christ, from all sin, to 'do nothing' (I take all possible note of these 'alls' and 'nothings' as I study and classify) 'for strife or vainglory' [ii. 3.]; to be 'anxious about nothing, but in everything' to tell God their desires; to 'do all things without murmurings and disputings' [iv. 6; ii. 14.]; to be 'unblamable, unhurtful, unblemished, God's children,' not in a dreamland, but in the realities of Philippian life; to bear fruit, 'fruit of righteousness, which is through Jesus Christ,' [ii. 15.] and so to bear it that at last it shall turn out, in the day of the Lord, that they are 'filled' with it [i. 11.]; every branch is laden. They are to let their 'moderation,' that is to say their yieldingness, their self-lessness, come out in common life, 'known to all men,' in the power of a 'Lord at hand' [iv. 5.]; to fill their thoughts with all that is good, straightforward, chastened, pure [iv. 8.]; to 'mind' the things in heaven [iii. 20; ii.]; to have 'the mind of Christ'; to grow in spiritual perception, along with the growth of love [i. 9.]; to live the life expressed in that profound summary, 'worshipping God in the Spirit (or, by the Spirit of God); exulting in Christ Jesus; having no confidence in the flesh.' [iii. 3.]

"III.—The Life in Christ exemplified in the Writer.

"Here let us forget the Apostle, for he speaks wholly as the Christian, and in a way manifestly meant to be an instruction to all Christians. He appears, then, in our document, as one whom Christ has 'seized,' has 'grasped' [iii. 12.]; as one who has discovered in Christ, and in Christ alone, the supreme Gain, the supreme Object of knowledge, the supreme Spiritual Power as the Risen One, [iii. 10.] the supreme Interest and Reason of life [i. 20; iii. 7-14], the one possible supply of the unspeakable need of a valid Righteousness before the Judgment Seat. Yes, he must be 'found in Him, having the righteousness which is from God on terms of faith,' [iii. 9.] the faith which enters into Christ. 'In Christ,' we discover, the Writer is, everywhere and always. His 'bonds' are 'in Christ'; his 'glory' is 'in Christ' [i. 13, 26.]; his hopes and trusts about the common events of life are 'in Christ'; in Christ he has 'found the secret' how to do all, all he has to do, in peace [iv. 19, 24.]. Christ fills his present life [iv. 13.]; when he dies, he will be so 'with Christ' that it will be 'far better' than this present life, though it is full of Christ [i. 21, 23.]. He is the willing but most real bondservant of Christ [i. 1.]. His relations with Christ so fill him with peace and the power of peace, that extremely irritating rivalry and opposition at Rome does not irritate him, but occasions holy joy, and the suspense about life and death in which Nero keeps him is powerless, wholly because of Christ [i. 12, etc.], to evoke anything but a statement of the dilemma of blessings which life and death in the Lord are to him [i. 21, etc.]. On the other hand, as the whole Epistle indicates, every pure human sensibility circulates naturally in this supernatural atmosphere [E.g. ii. 27, 28; iv. 10.]. And meanwhile, though 'perfect,' in respect of reality of union and communication with his Lord, he is not yet 'perfected' in respect of application and results; the goal, the prize, is yet to come. [iii. 12, 14.]

"And so I shut my Epistle to the Philippians, leaving very much more in it for the next occasion. Such a study has not demanded long hours. It has asked only interest, purpose, and painstaking, a few such fragments of daily time as we must, yes, must, make and take for the Bible, if we are not to starve our people and ourselves. Suffer me to repeat it with deep earnestness; we must, we absolutely must, not merely devotionally read but devotionally search and penetrate this divine Book. And what shall come of the effort? By the grace of God, sought in the deep joy of a profound submission, it shall come that we shall each one realize, with a vernal newness and delight, that Christ is mine; that the springs and secrets of this life in Him are mine, for the realities of my home, my parish, my study, my soul. I go (it is for each one of us to say it) with renewed thirst and certainty to Him the eternal Fountain; I live, I live, yet not I; and therefore I can work. It will be 'with fear and trembling,' as I know myself to be indeed in the eternal Presence; yet it will be also in the power-giving 'peace that passeth understanding, keeping the heart and thoughts, in Christ Jesus,' a keeping that is not meant to vanish outside holy places and holy hours, but to do its strongest and serenest work in the midst of crookedness and perverseness, under the stress of toils and burthens, as truly for me to-day as for the Philippians and their Teacher then."

"The Spirit breathes upon the Word And brings the truth to sight; Precepts and promises afford A sanctifying light.

"My soul rejoices to pursue The steps of Him I love, Till glory breaks upon my view In brighter worlds above."




When the watcher in the dark Turns his lenses to the skies, Suddenly the starry spark Grows a world upon his eyes: Be my life a lens, that I So my Lord may magnify

We come from the secrecies of the young Clergyman's life, from his walk alone with God in prayer and over His Word, to the subject of his common daily intercourse. Let us think together of some of the duties, opportunities, risks, and safeguards of the ordinary day's experience.


A word presents itself to be said at once, about the connexion between the secret and the common walk of the servant of God. The former is never to give way to the latter; it is to run into it, underground. "To walk with God all day" is to be our distinct and practical purpose, and not merely a sweet sentiment and holy aspiration of the hymn-book. The man who prays in secret is to be the man who knows how to pray secretly in public. The man who pores over the Word all alone is to be the man who, out in the open field of life, "sins not" because he has "hid that Word in his heart" [Ps. cxix. 11.]; and who, being called upon by circumstances, however casually, to show himself actually a true "man of the Book," is internally ready to do so. Nothing short of "a life with Christ behind our work," always and everywhere, is to content us Pastors. To live that life is from one point of view our wonderful privilege, in our living union with our blessed Head. From another point of view it is our truest and deepest work, as we watch and pray over our privilege, and draw upon our Head in the holy diligence of faith.

I have spoken already of this vital connexion between the walk with God in secret and the secret walk with God in public. But it bears reiteration. It is something gained if we only remind one another, with the emphasis of repetition, that such a life is our bounden duty and our blissful possibility:—

"You may always be abiding, if you will, at Jesu's side; In the secret of His Presence you may every moment hide."[10]

[10] I quote from a beautiful hymn, beginning, "In the secret of His Presence." It is given in part in several recent hymn-books, but for its complete form see From India's Coral Strand, (Home Words Office, Paternoster Buildings,) a collection of the poems of its gifted writer, a Hindoo Christian lady, Miss E.L. Goreh.

But now, what will be the surface and expression of such a hidden life, as the young Clergyman passes through his busy common day?


Let me speak first of his life indoors, that is to say, probably, in his lodgings. There the day at least begins and ends; and, in more ways than he is aware of till he sets himself to consider, he may—or may not—glorify his Master there. He is quite certain to be watched, whether the eyes are friendly or unfriendly to himself and to his message and ministry. He will be watched of course not only as a man but as a Minister. And the results of the observation may be most important, for good or for evil, to the immediate observers; and they are pretty sure to reach many other people through them. "What shall the harvest be?"


Let one result be, a clear impression in the house that you, the new Curate, are a man of SELF-RESPECT. Perhaps that word will not be used, any more than its Greek equivalent, [Greek: aidos], that noble pre-Christian ethical term which lay ready and waiting to be glorified by the Gospel. But let Self-respect be your principle and your practice, and it will leave its impression, by whatever word the impression may be described. Let the man be seen by those who are about him, and who in one way or another wait on him, to be quite simple while quite refined in ways and habits; to be active and wholesome in the hours he keeps; to hold self-indulgence under a strong bridle (shall I say, not least the self-indulgence which cannot do without the stimulant and without the pipe?); and he will be in a fair way to commend his message indoors. Let him be seen, without the least affectation, but unmistakably, to find his main interests, within doors as well as without, in his Lord and His cause and work; to be the avowed Christian at all hours; and he will be doing hourly work for Christ. With it all, let him be seen to be "gentle to others" while "to himself severe"; let him, while always self-respectful, be always watchfully CONSIDERATE; and his light will shine; he will be an OEcolampadius, a House-light, indeed.


On that last point I must dilate a little; on the point of Considerateness. I remember a conversation a few years ago with one of our college servants, an excellent Christian woman, truly exemplary in every duty. She was speaking of one of my dear student friends now labouring for the Lord in a distant and difficult mission-field, and giving him—after his departure from us—a tribute of most disinterested praise: "Ah, Sir, he was a consistent gentleman!" And then she instanced some of my friend's consistencies; and I observed that they all reduced themselves to one word—Considerateness. He was always taking trouble, and always saving trouble. He was always finding out how a little thought for others can save them much needless labour. The things in question were not heroic. The thoughtfulness for others concerned only such matters as the bath, and the shoes, and the clothes, and some small details of hospitality. But they meant a very great deal for the hard-worked caretaker, and they were to her a means of quite distinct "edification," upbuilding, in the assurance that Christ and the Gospel are indeed practical realities. I break no confidence when I add, by the way, that my friend had not always been thus "a consistent gentleman." But the Lord had found him, and he had found the Lord, in the midst of his University life; and he had learnt most deeply and effectually, at the feet of Jesus, the consistency of Considerateness.

I do press this aspect of our daily walk with all earnestness on my younger Brethren. I press it on them at least to think about it with painstaking attention. No Christian man, as such, means for one moment to be selfish. But lack of attention does in very many cases indeed allow the real Christian to contract, or to continue, selfish habits. Many good men quite fail to realize how selfish, practically, it is to be unpunctual. You have your understood mealtimes in your lodging. It may not be always possible to keep strictly to them; the exigencies of work may make it honestly necessary now and again to be out of time. But let nothing less than duty do so for you. The breakfast kept standing because you are not up when you should be may very likely mean much needless trouble and much domestic disarrangement. Guests often brought in without any notice may mean the same.


Perhaps I need not say, yet I will say it, that the consistent servant of God, whether at his own table or at his neighbour's, will "take heed unto himself" not even to seem fastidious. There are some men about whom, if you know them, you feel sure that they will not choose the best dish at the table; and there are others, I am afraid, about whom you feel pretty sure that they will. One man will not think, or at least will not seem to think, whether the meat is hot or cold; and another will rather decidedly avoid the latter. Pardon the details; they have something very real to do with our Consistency.

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