Life's Working Creed (III.)
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XI.

WORLDLINESS

Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.     JAS. iV. 1-4.


THE language of these verses had better be taken hyperbolically; such words as 'war,' 'lust,' 'kill' are metaphors perhaps, but even then the passage sounds harsh, narrow, and crude.  Then, alongside St. James, let us take an authority altogether above suspicion.  Four hundred years before this writer's time an old pagan philosopher of the name of Plato spoke on the subject as follows:


    'Wars and factions and fightings have no other source than the body and its lusts.  For it is for the getting of wealth that all our wars arise, and we are compelled to get wealth because of our bodies, to whose service we are slaves.  The body is everywhere coming in, introducing turmoil and confusion, and bewildering us so that we are prevented from seeing the truth. . . . We must get rid of the body, and with the soul by itself behold things by themselves.'


    It is one of the inseparable conditions of life that we have crises; we are constantly being compelled to compare competing things and make our choice; and that choice is often very difficult.  The results of such exertion of our powers are valuable, but the process is very trying and wearisome.  We are incessantly being set before some Portia's box to guess the riddle, and the choice is often so very delicate.  It is not between black and white, parti-coloured things, but between fine shades; not between good and bad, but between two goods.  And, as if that were not embarrassing enough, we have to decide the differences with instruments in which we have no sort of confidence and with weights and scales we have long since learnt to suspect.

    We think in words, but the simplest terms we use have significances as wide as the poles asunder and yet with a striking common identity.  Take the word 'Ambition' for instance.  The emotion is an indispensable accompaniment of life; we cannot get on at all without it, and yet it is the source of much of the world's awfullest misery.  It may mean a lofty, inspiring passion that lifts us to the level of the gods, or it may be a cruel, unscrupulous, insatiable motive that demonizes the person in whom it dwells.  It can be, with equal reason, lauded to the skies or condemned to the outer darkness.  And a further difficulty is that, as we usually encounter it, it is neither the one nor the other, but something between the two, a perplexing mixture of fish, flesh, and fowl which we have to sort for ourselves, with eternal consequences depending on the issue.  The driving power of life is desire, craving, ambition; we not only all have these things, but we all agree they are indispensable to success—that life cannot be life without them.  And yet they are of most bewildering variety; some good, some bad, some partly the one and partly the other, and some neither the one nor the other; and, as if these difficulties were not sufficient, they have all a family likeness, and the lower ones, taking advantage of that fact, have a dreadful trick of masquerading in the garments of the higher: sons of Satan appearing as children of light.

    The most commonly commended virtue of the hour is earnestness, and the quality of that grace is determined by the strength of desire.  But if the desire be a bad one, its strength is its most dangerous characteristic.  We have not only to attend therefore to the strength of our desires but to their character, their ultimate motive; and thus we get back to what is behind desire—to the heart, the will, to the man himself.

    This was the sort of difficulty that confronted St. James in dealing with these Jews.  They were very loyal and earnest, but their loyalty was mistaken, and their zeal, instead of being expended upon the exemplification of their religion in their lives and deeds, was employed in internal dissension, recrimination, strife, and warfare.  The Jew, as already noted, was a born controversialist.  The Jewish Church in the time of Christ was divided into sects—Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Herodians, Essenes, and Samaritans; and many of the young converts looked upon Christianity as another of these sects.  They regarded it as the highest expression of their loyalty to their new faith to argue about it, and they not merely contended for Christianity as against other phases of Judaism, but for their own private view of Christianity as against the personal interpretation of their fellow Christians.  By this mode of procedure they brought the old Jewish fractiousness into the Christian assemblies, and, as is clear from the protests of apostle after apostle, turned the Christian sanctuary into something like a bear-garden and Christian brotherhood into a satire.  Whatever the Jew believes he is prepared to carry out to its utmost consequence.  He lived in an age when it seemed the most natural of all things that the man who would not believe what he ought to believe should be compelled to do so—(the great historic persecutions were most of them conscientious enough)—and so, when one Christian did not believe as his brother did it was a kindness to him to make him, especially if the offender were poor and the other rich, or ignorant whilst the other was educated and influential.  And so, amongst the members of the Church of the Prince of Peace, even so early in her history, there was struggling, envy, malice, and persecution the one towards the other.  There is no need to be too severe on these early saints living in barbarous days, for their spirit is not dead yet, in spite of the bitter lessons we have had, and the increased light of which we boast.  It seems to be a pitiful infirmity of our human nature that we cannot be intense without being also narrow—the propagandist churches have always somehow been exclusive ones—and much of our boasted breadth is not the large charity of real Christianity, but the tepidity and half-heartedness of feeble conviction—we are tolerant because we are indifferent.

    But there is another thing in which these early Christians are nearer to us still.  Their Christianity was limited to time and place, confined exclusively to their meeting-houses.  The equality of man was a thing undreamed of by them, and brotherhood, though known by name, was a beautiful heavenly ideal, not practicable on this poor earth.  They had heard of the lovely generosity of Barnabas at Jerusalem, and that strange emotional freak of having 'all things common'; but these were only episodes, not intended in the least for general emulation.

    Brother Isaac and I are 'dearly beloved brethren' in the upper room, but on Monday we are competitors in business.  You must not carry these things too far, especially when you remember that brother Isaac does not exactly believe as I believe.  I am rich, brother Isaac is poor and compelled to sell—you must not poke Christian brotherhood in there, you know, especially as brother Isaac is not orthodox!  Because of his high personal character brother Isaac is an elder, and I, with my respectable financial position, am never asked to do anything!  Brother Isaac works for me: I don't pay him much, but it is the 'standard rate of wages,' and I'm in daily fear that he will forget himself and presume upon his position as an elder.  I work for brother Isaac, but he expects me to work as hard as another man—he forgets that I'm his brother in the Lord!  I am brother Isaac's customer, and buy all I want from him—and he actually last week disagreed with me in a church meeting!  Brother Isaac and I worship in the same synagogue, and he actually buys his goods from a heathen man!  Brother Isaac has no more money or education or influence than I have, and yet he is always preferred before me!

    These were the things that were talked about amongst the Jews of the Dispersion; these were the things they were interested in, and got excited about: petty jealousies, contemptible envyings, and trivial personal grievances.  That is why the language of these verses is so loose and disjointed, and has provided so many riddles for the commentators.  St. James is indignant, and glows with righteous resentment.  These people are converted, regenerated, inspired by that new Spirit of peace and love which is from above! and the things they do, the tempers they show, the spirit they breathe, is the old, deadly, Cain-like spirit of the world from which they are supposed to have separated for ever!  If they were regenerated and animated with the Spirit from above they would be pure, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Their fightings, their envyings, their jealousies and broils and wars are the infallible signs of worldliness, of the domination of that spirit which is from below.  But the assumption underlying St. James's protest is stronger even than that.  He insists and drives home his point with such vehemence because these symptoms are not regrettable, inevitable signs of immature development, temporary aberrations in the process of spiritual evolution: they belong to the opposite process.  They are the characteristics of that which is the very antithesis of truth and holiness; they are the infallible marks of God's and the soul's deadliest enemy, worldliness; and worldliness is not something short of complete Christianity, it is its eternal opposite, its undying enemy.  The worldly man is not a person so much short of being a perfect Christian, he is not a Christian at all.  For the friendship of the world is enmity to God; whosoever, therefore, is the friend of the world is the enemy of God.

    And now we seem to have a simple issue; but alas! it is not so.  Having come face to face with our oldest, commonest human besetment, we should know where we are, but we do not.  It is here, in fact, that our perplexities commence; we differ in our understanding, not only of the word, but the thing.  What is worldliness to one man is not to another; what is worldliness under certain circumstances may be lowly piety under different conditions.  Worldliness is a spirit—the spirit that is from below.  Men and women have to decide for themselves, and it is here that the testing comes in.  What you see another do is no law for you.  This is where human responsibility is heaviest; this is the discipline of disciplines—the most awful tragedies of life take place in the brain.  Worldliness is not desiring and seeking the good things of this life—they are given to be sought after and enjoyed.  It is not pursuing your earthly calling with intelligence and assiduity—it is wrong not to do so.  It is not interesting yourselves in the common concerns of life and taking your part in the duties, pleasures, struggles, and enterprises of your fellows.  Worldliness is choosing the lower in the presence of the higher—pleasure to duty, personal comfort of any kind to moral and religious demands and the claims of God and humanity.  'Worldliness,' says James Adderley, 'is that spirit or temper which is bred of continuous omission of God.  Wherever He is shut out, omitted from our calculations, there is worldliness.'  'The world,' says Dr. Plummer, 'is human nature sacrificing the spiritual to the material, the future to the present, the eternal to that which touches the senses and perishes with time.'

    The poet who wrote the now-neglected Night Thoughts has expressed the point perhaps as well as it can be put:


He sins against this life who slights the next.
What is this life? how few their fav'rite know!
Fond in the dark, and blind in our embrace,
By passionately loving life we make
Loved life unlovely, hugging her to death.


    Worldliness is not the choosing of a thing that is dishonest, immoral, dishonourable—there is another name for these; it is choosing the thing that is common, popular, but questionable—at least for me.  It means the spirit that, when it comes to doubtful things, chooses—on other grounds, of course—that which is desirable and pleasant; the spirit that, when it has to decide between being singular or being as others are, chooses the line of least resistance.  It is being more fearful of being thought narrow than of offending one's own conscience; it is the habitual sacrifice of duty to pleasure, of service to self-gratification.  It will not help us to discuss the things which usually come up in connexion with this grave question—whist drives, dances, theatres, sports, and week-ends, these are questions for thought and prayer.  What we have to ask ourselves is, What are they preferred to? what is it that has to give way for these things? what is neglected if we indulge them?  The question in these momentous decisions is, Which is first? and we all know which ought to be.  It would be possible to be very entertaining on a point of this kind.  It would be easy to detail the ridiculous inconsistencies into which good Christians sometimes run, and the absurd distinctions they sometimes make.  These may have something to answer for, and are cleverly used by so-called broad-minded people to discredit religious scrupulosity; but such people are welcome to their triumph, for the tender-minded saints of other days, who thought that even the reading of a religious newspaper on the Sabbath was sinful, were of more value to God, the Church, and their fellow creatures, than the genial, broadminded, tolerant, once-a-day worshippers of more enlightened times.

    The Christian man, because of the responsibilities which his high character brings him in civic, social, or church life, and because of his necessarily much more strenuous life, has often more need of recreations than his fellows; but he dare not take them because of the abuse which others would make of his example.  When casuistical questions transpire the worldly Christian turns to the reasons which appeal to his logical faculty, to expedience and the sense of seemliness, and is very shy of bluntly avowing those deeper reasons that may appeal to his religious convictions.  St. James goes so far, in one case, as to use the word 'kill,' which need not be taken too literally; but to shelter one's self behind the custom of the trade, the partial and indirect responsibility of shareholdership, the impossibility of controlling subordinates, the domination of employers' unions, or the state of the labour market, is worldly, and not merely produces envying, strife, and class estrangement, as we see them to-day, but literally, though indirectly, kills the hapless victims.

    At bottom the spirit of the world is self, and whether it be a scruple about a game of cards, the policy of a trade syndicate, or a matter of Imperial politics, it all comes from the same mould, all springs from the same source.  It is the spirit of Cain, the spirit of Judas, the spirit of envy, strife, and murder; its origin is from below, and its aim is at the throne of God.

    'The friendship of the world,' writes John Foster, 'ought to be a pearl of great price, for its cost is very serious'; and William Law, the great eighteenth-century writer, declares: 'It is as possible for a man to worship a crocodile and yet be a pious man, as to have affections set upon the world and yet be a good Christian.'

    'Man,' somebody has said, 'is a theatre of desires, positive, negative, or suppressed.'  The fact is the soul is absolutely insatiable, as hungry as a lion fed on canary seed.  The soul is bottomless and boundless, and man is a walking magazine of unsatisfied longings.  'Man never is, but always to be blest.'  'We shall never rail enough at the unruliness and disorder of our minds,' asserts old Montaigne; and then he adds, 'We are never ourselves, but beyond.'  Life is a whirlpool, whose swirling eddies spin over the vast vacuity of the soul the desires, cravings, ambitions which drive us along are the currents and rushings created by the resistless suction of the ravenous soul underneath.  Man, his vast spiritual dimensions, are the real causes of his own and the world's miseries.  God, and God only, is sufficient to fill the vastness of his nature and make the whirlpool a placid lake.  Longings grow stronger, ambitions fiercer, but the soul grows emptier and hungrier, and the ruthless intensity of the endeavour to satisfy it produces heart-burnings, bitterness, misery, and death.  Desire is the great driving-wheel of life; but if it be worldly desire, it is the spirit that is from below, which mocks its own hunger, and intensifies the miseries of the race.  God is sufficient!—and the only sufficiency.  Give Him His right, put Him into His proper place, and that will bring the long-sought rest and contentment, and the life of the man who does it will overflow in helpful, healing sympathy and blessing to his fellow creatures.


    Who truly strives, they ask?
        Then one replies,
The man who owns no other goal beside
The throne of God, and till he there arrives,
Allows himself no rest—he truly strives.


 
XII.

COWARDICE AND COURAGE

He giveth more grace.—JAS. iv. 6.


GLANCING over the preceding verses one feels that the writer is getting somewhat thin.  'Submit yourselves to God'?  'Draw near to God and He will draw near to you'?  'Resist the devil and he will flee from you'? these are the tritest commonplaces, far too threadbare for an important letter like this!  Yes, but we need to remind ourselves that the conclusion of an argument is usually expressed in axioms.  The more such discussions can be reduced to every-day phrases universally accepted, the more successful is the demonstration.  The very purpose of the argument is to reduce elaborate and obscure issues to plain statements, just as the complicated steps of a problem in Euclid are taken to arrive at a geometrical axiom.

    Sir Isaac Newton, when first he was shown the axioms of Euclid, said that they did not need to be proved; they were self-evident; and an argument is never felt to be so satisfactory and conclusive as when its results can be expressed in an every-day proverb. That is why these commonplaces are here.  In the course of his demonstration St. James has gone deeper and deeper until he has reached his Q.E.D., his rock-bottom axioms, and brings them out here as the clinchings of his argument.  Let us see where he is and what precisely he is aiming at.

    The mother-sin of the human soul is cowardice.  The stunning blow of the Fall, the demoralization of ages of successive defeats, the constant contemplation of the devastation wrought within by these failures, and the unvarying record of them written on the soul's features, have created a profound and chronic fear; a hopeless distrust of itself which has become ingrained and instinctive, and has destroyed all true self-reliance.  And when, with these marks upon it and these records within it, the soul begins to deal with life itself, it is already half defeated; it approaches the conflict in a state of suppressed panic, and the dread of defeat produces it, every experiment of its own confirming and intensifying the original fear.  But cowardice breeds craft, fearfulness and feebleness produce a vicious ingenuity and trickiness; timidity drives to subterfuge, and the coward exerts many times as much strength and inventiveness in getting away as would have carried him through to easy victory.  That is what is the matter with the soul: it has become an arrant coward; its falls have meant loss of heart, of hope, of courage, of faith in itself, its God, and its great destiny.  Its ruling emotion is fear of that which is high.  When it enters the arena of life the foes that face it daunt it, demoralize it, and it turns its energies to expedients of escape.  Christian ideals and aims, God's plan of its life, are so difficult, so arduous, overfacing and dangerous that it turns tail and tries to get round what it dare not go through.  The prizes of life appeal to it, arouse, intoxicate, and allure it; but it shrinks from paying the price, and begins to seek for cheaper substitutes.  Standing at the foot of the mount of destiny, it gazes on the distant summit with glowing, passionate longings; but, dropping its eyes to the steep ascents, the perilous passes, the yawning precipices, it turns aside, scrambles to some paltry little human ant-hill, and there, with waving banners and plenteous plaudits, turns the sublime drama into a ridiculous farce, and tricks itself into the belief that its yard-high mole-hill summit is the topmost peak of glory!

    That is what St. James is driving at in this perplexing, much-wrangled-over passage; he is excited and therefore elliptical almost to incoherence; he has got to the very core of things, to the simple, eternal elements; he has come at last to the dead blank wall that stops all spiritual progress; and so, as he is heated about it, his words tumble out disconnectedly and seem to be the baldest, tritest commonplaces.  Yes, that is what he has been coming to; that is the proper rhetorical conclusion.  The argument which has seemed to wander here and there, sometimes hidden, sometimes almost lost, here emerges into the open; the subtilties become simplicities, close logic emerges into common truisms, universally accepted and ridiculous to deny.  The bottommost difficulty of the spiritual life is that we cannot be whole-hearted; we want an easier task, a cheaper article, and shrink from the pain and risk.  Like Mr. Pliable, we want the New Jerusalem but not the Slough of Despond through which we are to reach it.  In a word, we are natural cowards: we do not believe sufficiently either in ourselves, God, or the power of religion; to use a colloquialism, we 'duff' at it, quail before it, lose heart at the sight of it; we look at the difficulties but—


                        Forget the mighty God,
That feeds the strength of every saint.


We forget that, as fast as difficulty grows God grows, that as hindrances increase helps multiply we forget that with more trial, more strain, more burden, more danger, there is always 'more grace.'  Inch by inch, grace for grievance, strength according to the day, 'He giveth more grace.'  'He will not suffer us to be tempted more than we are able to bear, but will with every temptation make a way of escape.'  The balance is always on the right side.  The more mouths there are to fill, the faster will the barrel of meal multiply.  If trouble grows, faith and hope and courage shall increase the more.  As temptations multiply, grace shall grow the more.  Instead of being fearful in the presence of tribulation we should spring to it, meet it, and 'count it all joy'; for 'He giveth more grace.'  However overwhelming the attacking hosts, the defence is always more.  Human nature may tremble, hell may array herself, and the world may swarm about us, but 'He giveth more.'  Though hell shall empty herself upon us, poor humanity have fired its last shot, and circumstances have us in their terrible death-grip, 'He giveth more, more, MORE!'  'Far more exceeding abundantly than we can ask or think.'

    Yes, the most injurious infirmity of the soul is fear.  We have nothing to fear but fear, and our most pressing and imperious necessity is faith.  But the fear that is so fatal to us is absolutely groundless, and the faith that is so indispensable is cheap, easy, and abundantly given.  St. James is either too eager or too shrewd to mention the word; but these apparently threadbare clauses contain a clarion-call to courage, a reminder that we use mighty magnifying-glasses to look at our dangers, but shut our eyes, like a man taking a leap into the sea, when we turn to God and the inexhaustible resources lying about us for our succour.


Never can true courage dwell with them
Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare not look
At their own vices.   We have been too long
Dupes of a deep delusion.


    Now, men do not coax and soothe the coward—they scold him; they do not encourage, but rebuke and arouse him; and that is just what St. James is doing here.  He is not dealing with poltroons, but with potential heroes, and the case is too serious for gentle words, too urgent for soothing consolations.  Something rough, drastic, awakening is needed, and so he calls them 'adulteresses,' 'sinners,' 'double-minded.'  They have not been stunned with heavy blows, but stupefied at the thought of them.  Why?  Has the General left the field?  Have the stores been captured, the commissariat and tents vanished?  Have they been cut off and separated from their base?  They know that the very reverse is the case.  Their General is more powerful and successful every day, their stores increase, their commissariat is improving, their connexions with head quarters closing up every hour.  'He giveth more grace.'  So with us.  We cannot carry Spion Kop by lying howling in our tents, or relieve Ladysmith by counting our scratches!  We are soldiers, not play-actors; it is a God's-battle we are engaged in, and not a review.  What matter how numerous the enemy?  'He giveth more.'  What matter poverty?  Why mourn at the greatness of the way?  'He giveth more grace.'  What matter the legions of darkness and the hosts of destruction?  'He giveth more.'  'A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a great number. . . . A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but they shall not come nigh thee,' for 'He that is for us is more than all that can be against us.'

    Yes, true religion is the life heroic, and the Christian conception of life is the soul's highest flight of daring, its sublimest audacity.  For such as we the Christian ideal seems a piece of inspired madness, and apart from God the wildest, most impossible ambition that ever entered the human brain.  If we propose to attempt that life on principles of prudential human economy we had better abandon the idea at once; for on this adventure we must think imperially, think in kingdoms, not parishes.  When the grace of God descends into a man it makes him a king, a greater monarch than earth ever saw or poet ever dreamed of Henceforth he must think in empires, in universes.  He must not bring parish-council plans to imperial cabinets.  When he has once risen to the conception of an immortal crown the domestic standards of ordinary life are for ever out of place.  He must leave the things that are behind, and press forward to the things that are above, 'towards the mark of the prize of his high calling in Christ Jesus.'  Having chosen the heroic life, he must think in heroics; having accepted that one impossibility of living a true life, all other impossibilities cease to be, and the constant refrain of his song is


The thing impossible shall be,
All things are possible to me.


    But that is just where the difficulty comes in.  In a profound and sinister sense the soul is, as St. James puts it, 'double-minded.'  The hero and the groundling, the conqueror and the coward, walk about in one personality.  In our truer moments we feel ourselves gods, in other times we think it pious to call ourselves 'worms.'  We climb up to the heights and look with beating hearts and blazing eyes on the summit, and then go away and forget what manner of persons we be.  At Waterloo Blücher, when his men were failing, stung them back to heroism by crying, 'Dogs! do you want to be immortal?' and that is the kind of thing St. James is doing here.  In warfare, when there is nothing going on but the ordinary routine of camp life, the men get lazy, quarrelsome, and drunken, so that lookers-on deem them loathsome; but let the trumpet-blare bring them suddenly face to face with the enemy, and the meanest man amongst them becomes a hero.  It is so with us, and was so with these early Christians.  We have got a majestic ideal, but are 'disobedient to the heavenly vision.'  Back from the Mount of Transfiguration the things that looked small from that shining summit bulk large to us, and we become of the earth earthy.

    Samson can be bound with withes.  Having lost sight of the circling hosts of fire, even the paltry Syrians seem unconquerable; and so we are like poor Don Quixote, whose fever-haunted brain turned windmills into impregnable fortresses and flocks of silly sheep into terrible armies.  We try to content our godlike natures with such things as earthly prizes, success in business, triumphs in the social sphere, Lilliputian diplomatic victories of spite and envy over each other.  It is unspeakably beneath us!  Millionaires do not reckon in halfpennies, imperial statesmen do not trouble with vestry by-laws; full-grown adults do not quarrel over babies' toys!  We are god-born, hero-natured, eternity-souled!  The penny-farthing calculations of earthly prudence are beneath us!

    When Moses shrank before his great commission God startled him into a realization of the unconquerable resources He was placing at his disposal by the staggering sentence, 'I AM hath sent thee,' as though that were enough for all argument and fear.  Joshua, quailing before his impossible task, received the assurance, 'As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. . . . No man shall be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life.'  When Jeremiah's inevitable fit of stupefied amazement came upon him, and broke him down into momentary cowardice, God, flashing upon him like a dazzling apparition, stretched all the ponderous proportions of His own omnipotence before him, and demanded, 'I am the Lord, the God of the whole earth; is there anything impossible to Me?'  When St. Paul carried the weary weight of his thorn in the flesh to his Maker, God, unwilling that His honoured servant should miss any little scrap of his future triumph, assured him, 'My grace is sufficient for thee.'

    It is not ourselves we have to reckon upon, but God.  We have weaknesses and infirmities, besetments and human frailties—but 'He giveth more grace.'  We may have poverty or sickness, parting and desolation; but 'He giveth more grace.'  The task may be difficult, the burden intolerable; but 'He giveth more grace.'  Life grows harder, more trying, more perplexing every day; but 'He giveth more grace.' We seem to grope in the darkness, but however deep it becomes He giveth more grace—more, more, MORE.


 
XIII.

EVIL-SPEAKING

Speak not evil one of another, brethren—JAS. iv. II.


THERE would seem to be a pause between this and the preceding verses, during which St. James evidently recovers from his indignation and drops into the older tone of affectionate admonition.  But he is still dwelling on the varied dangers of selfish worldliness, and so he is reminded of a topic to which he has previously referred and returns to it as specially necessary at this point.

    One of the most common and popular forms of earthly-mindedness is evil-speaking, and though it is a vice which all the world has denounced from the beginning, he finds reason to fear that it is prevalent still, and has even intruded itself into that circle where of all others its existence should be impossible—the brotherhood of the saints of God.

    What a privilege it is to be able to talk!  Imagine the teeming brain of man, with its myriad fancies and ceaseless reflections, and no power of expressing them all!  Speech is one of God's greater gifts to us.  The joys of home, of social intercourse and friendship, depend for their spice and relish on the exercise of talking.  Speech is the bridge on which the human heart goes out to meet its fellows, and words are the very arms in which they embrace.  Speech is the power by which genius unburdens itself of its burning conceptions and scatters them abroad to enlighten, comfort, and bless the race.

    But this gift, like all other of God's endowments, has been and is most shamefully abused.  The instrument is found to be so delicate and pliable that it is possible to adapt it almost infinitely and use it for the very opposite purpose to that for which it was given.  Instead of music, men have made it produce discord; instead of promoting love and fellowship, it has become an instrument of evil, creating or expressing 'envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness.'

    'What is the use,' asks Sir Arthur Helps, 'of the wondrous gift of language if it is employed to enervate and not ennoble its hearers?'  'Think what a glorious power is that of expression, and what responsibility follows the man who possesses it!'

    It is not without significance that a very early form of idolatry raised altars to the modest goddess of silence.  Men have branded speech with a hundred shameful names, and called it the mother of all man's misery.  Speech is a priceless gift, but evil speech, besides being a gift degraded, is a contravention of that very compact upon which human brotherhood is based, and the spirit of which it is begotten is that worldliness so strongly denounced in an earlier chapter, and which is the irreconcilable adversary of godliness.

    Notice the construction of the text.  The first sentence is the danger-board that warns us from a terrible pitfall, and the last word, 'Brethren,' is the lamp by whose light we read the warning.

    'Speak not evil one of another, brethren'; but evil-speaking is an act of hostility; it is one of the weapons of war, and brethren are not opposed to each other.  Look at an ordinary human family; do they speak evil one of another?  Should there be a member of the household who is erring, do the rest proclaim his guilt and magnify it?  Does the father go about proclaiming his son's shame? or the brothers and sisters advertise the family disgrace?  They do the very opposite!  They realize, but too well, that it is something to be hidden, not even to be whispered; they feel that it is a family dishonour, and for their own and the family's sake, and especially for the sake of the offender, they carefully and anxiously conceal it.  It may be there has been no fault; do they invent and then magnify one?  Where is the father who would blast the character of his son? where the brother or sister who will slander their own flesh and blood?  But St. James has evidently found reason to suppose a perfectly scandalous thing were it not so common that we have worn off our sense of its disgracefulness.  Speaking of the greatest of all families—where it is to the interest of the great Father at its head, the strong Elder Brother its centre, and the smallest member of the circle, that love and only love should prevail—the apostle seems to find it necessary to make this strange exhortation.  Evil-speaking is a separating, disintegrating force, opposed to the very conception of brotherhood.  Where evil-speaking has commenced, brotherhood has already come to an end.

    It may be protested that all decent people condemn evil-speaking, and agree that it should be put down; but the fact is that, from St. James's time to the present, it never has been eradicated, and there are, alas! no very encouraging signs that the magnitude of the evil is actually realized.

    There is also a curiously distorted idea, sadly too prevalent amongst modern Christians, that our close mutual relationship and brotherhood give us certain privileges in this matter.  It seems to be inferred that, because of our connexion with each other, we are compelled to see each other's faults, and by the same rule compelled to speak of them.  We have the honour of our church and the reputation of our fellow Christians to consider.  It would be a comfort to believe that the sense of brotherhood was strong enough to make a difficulty like that, but even then a moment's reflection will show how unreal it is.  Returning to our illustration—the idea implicit in the very conception of the church as a family—do earthly families practise that sort of thing?  If son or daughter go wrong, it is compelled to be referred to in the family circle; but is it returned to again and again?  Do they not all studiously avoid it? and, when compelled to name it, do they not do so in the fewest possible words?  And if the faults, or only supposed faults, of erring ones in God's family be discussed, it should be only with the culprit himself, and that in anxious, tender terms; the only other person who should be told is the great All-father.  But, alas! it is not so.  The faults, real or imaginary, of our brethren are toothsome morsels of conversation and tea-table appetizers.  Instead of a conspiracy of silence there is too often a combination for proclamation, a trumpeting of suspected frailties on the house-tops, a putting of fingers into small holes and tearing them larger; whispering, backbiting, spiteful, malicious small-talk; unfriendly, unrighteous criticism.  Of all the internal evils poisoning the inner life of the Christian Church to-day, there is none more pernicious than that ancient, inveterate one of gossipy amusement, that child of indolence and envy, that serious modern plague-spot—evil-speaking.

    But it is time to define our terms more strictly.  What is evil-speaking?  It is any kind of talk that dishonours alike both speaker and hearer.  It is that loose, flippant tattling which is such a humiliation to the man who indulges it, so that, as Cowper puts it:


He abhors the jest by which he shines.


But in the connexion in which we find the text St. James was assailing a particular form of this dishonourable transgression.

    The practice he was referring more especially to was that evil-speaking which is saying anything about another (except, of course, under special circumstances) which if he heard it would pain him, and which, though he never hear it, injures him in the eyes of others.

    Now do not read into the definition anything that is not there.  Nothing is said in it, observe, about what we may say to a man about his folly: unless we are angrier than we ought to be, when we admonish another, we may most of us be trusted not to say too much to a man.  If we only said of a man what we dare say to him there would be very little evil-speaking at least of this kind.  Mark, also, the definition says nothing about the rightness or wrongness, the truth or falsity, of the thing reported: that does not necessarily come into consideration.  Unless compelled by some higher reason, anything, however true of itself, which will give pain and inflict injury, is evil-speaking.  It is to be feared that there are very loose notions abroad upon this question; we usually suppose that, so long as we do not perpetrate actual falsehood, we may say almost what we please.

    If that were so, there would be little necessity for this discourse, for plain, unvarnished lying is not common among respectable people.  It has long been laid aside as an obsolete weapon, of more danger to the user than the foe.  The barbarous, bungling shift of blunt falsehood is played out, and there are a hundred graceful, genteel ways of doing the thing rather than that.  If you want to kill a man you need not fall upon him with a murderous bludgeon; an ivory-hafted, delicately bladed dagger, hidden under a Delilah's smile and a Judas's kiss, will do the work quite as effectually, and be far more safe and polite.  You need not tell an untruth; you have only to leave a word or two out of the story you are telling, or put one in by way of variety and clearness, or give the sentence a different turn, a different inflection of the voice even, and you have effected your purpose and are perfectly safe.  But you have placed a black blot on your neighbour's character, a burning blister on his soul, that will smart and sting for months.  Men do not slander each other so much nowadays, but whether it is respect for the judgement of God and conscience or fear of an assize jury may be an open question.

    It is wrong to circulate that story about your friend.  Well, but it is true; and I can prove it!  What if it is true, and you can prove it?  It may be the very rankest kind of evil-speaking, for all that.  Unless some high necessity is laid upon you, you have no right to repeat the miserable tale.  The law of the land is enlightened enough for that.  Your lawyer will tell you that if you circulate what is perfectly true, and yet injurious to the person concerned, it is libel (unless, of course, some public necessity can be proved).  We surely should not desire that the practice of the Church should be lower than the common law of the land!

    But we are not to conceal and thus condone each other's faults.  That would be to encourage wrong-doing, allow the Church to be dishonoured, and tolerate dangerous laxity amongst God's people.  For the honour and purity of the Church a man must speak out!  Yes, but to begin with, unhappily, we don't speak out; we whisper, and hint, and murmur!


Only a faint suggestion, only a doubtful hint,
Only a leading question with a special tone or tint,
Only a low 'I wonder,' nothing unfair at all;
But the whisper grows to thunder, and a scathing bolt may fall,
And a good ship be dismasted, and hearts are like to break,
And a Christian life is blasted for a scarcely guessed mistake.


But there is another reason.  Such a case as has been suggested comes under another law, and there is a precise commandment made to fit it.  'If thy brother sin against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone; and if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.'  What cowards we are!  We have neither the courage nor the brotherly interest to go to our erring friend, but we are mean and small-minded enough to tell his fault to others.  That is, we atone for the breaking of one divine law by immediately breaking another.

    But the commonest kind of evil-speaking is that which forms so large a part of ordinary conversation: the gossiping, quizzing, hinting, and tale-bearing which lends such succulent morsels to the tea-table.  It should be remembered that, whenever the speech is corrupt, so is the mind: that we see in others that which we bring power to see, and the evil we discover in others is too often but the reflex of our own minds.  We drift into this contemptible practice from the poverty of our own brains and the fewness of our intellectual interests.  We are so limited that our conversation, to be acceptable, must be spiced with a relish of petty scandal.  We must talk when we come together, and our minds are so shallow and our mental outlook and sympathies so restricted that when we have discussed the weather, our ailments, and the minister, there is really nothing left; so we fall back on that never-failing toothsome dainty—other people's faults and failings.  To canvass another's faults is to bring to me all the sweet comfort of the reflection that I do not sin that way, and enables me, inwardly, at least, to 'Thank God that I am not as other men are, or even as this publican.'  The vice is exceedingly common, and we are all more or less guilty of it; but it is as wicked as common, and is constantly sowing the seeds of life-long bitterness and bringing forth crops of biting, blistering scandal.

    And we do not do this sort of thing bluntly and plainly; some of us have so much practice at it that we have cultivated it into a fine (!) art.  The same amount of industry put into the furnishing of our brains would have made us attractive conversationalists, whereas we are at best petty gossip-mongers.  The dullest of us are quite accomplished in the art of putting things.  We can say a stinging word which shall mean one thing when said to a person and quite another when said of him.  A lady called in to admire her friend's new bonnet goes into ecstasies over that 'lovely orange ribbon'; but when that material has to be described to another it has somehow become 'a staring yellow.'  A man speaks of his friend as either 'an earnest temperance worker ' or a 'rabid teetotaller' according to the company he is in.  And then, what uncertain things words are!  Our dictionaries pretend to define the meanings of terms to us, but we know that those vocables can be made to mean the exact opposite.  Words are but the corpses of our thoughts; it is the meaning the speaker puts into them that gives them life and decides their value.  How convenient to be able to say a spiteful, cutting thing, in language that can be made to sound quite harmless!  But it is a deadly evil, a cowardly, unmanly, unchristian vice!  Not what I say, but what I intend, is the measure of my words; and amongst the many things that hinder the growth of character, stifle spiritual life, poison the mind and blight the unfolding virtues, there is none greater than the flood of tattling, envious small talk which inundates social life in our own times.  'If any man among you seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain.'

    Every Christian, aye, every man in civilized society, owes much to the Christian brotherhood, and his life is sweetened and enriched by it every day.  But for the patient tenderness of our great Elder Brother we should be utterly lost, even now; but for brotherly counsels and brotherly prayers we should have been left perishing prodigals in the far country.  The Father who made, sustains, and day by day forgives us, and the Brother who redeemed us cries to us unceasingly, 'This new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.'  We believe and talk in these days most of all about 'brotherhood'; we are looking to it for the healing of the nations, and the very worldling emulates and marvels at the grand conception of Christian fellowship.  The great consummation is to come, we are told, by the realization of human brotherhood.  'Therefore let all bitterness, and clamour, and wrath, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.'


 
XIV.

THE EARTHLY AND THE HEAVENLY

To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin, &c.     JAS. iv. 13-17.


WE are most of us evolutionists in these days.  We have come to believe that all present living things are advances upon former lower things, out of which they have been developed; and that the forms of life we now see are germs, promises, transitional specimens, of higher forms yet to come.

    When a certain four-legged animal of the order of Primates, and living in a tree, was forced by the pressure of the struggle for existence to take to standing on two legs and in that position changed the balance of its brain, man began to be; and all that is to-day included in the term man originated in the necessity of standing upright.  It is a crude, incomplete conception as yet, and is being modified in this or that particular every day, but the central idea is accepted and is being regarded as the long-lost key to the history of creation and of man.  But nature is always consistent with herself: every process is like every other process, every step in the scheme a parable of every other step.  The one-time human animal, in its age-long evolution, has produced mind, and that mind is still under the same upward-climbing law that produced it.  Mind, like everything else in nature, changes, develops; but those advances are brought about in the same way, and follow the same law, as the lower ones.  The spiritual transformation we call conversion, in its broadest meaning, is simply a change of mind: like the process by which man came to be man, it is the soul getting upon its legs, it is the creature with the hitherto downward, earthly look, rising up, fronting the stars, gazing upon and coming into connexion with an entirely different and utterly boundless universe of new ideas.  The passage from animal to man was very slow, through the usual interminable minute modifications and with many lapses, and the struggle to make the grand departure permanent must have been fierce and long.  So with the higher, the spiritual process. The animal had only existence; man, when he came to be man, entered upon a new and wondrous form of being which we call life, and the third and greatest spiritual change added perpetuity to that life and made it life eternal.  This, at any rate, is the theory pushed to its logical conclusion.  The struggle from animal to man was age-long and terrible; one sees things yet which make one wonder whether the process is complete.  There are vestiges of the animal, defunct organs, in us all which are fruitful causes of modern disease.  The same is true of the higher stage, the eternal conflict between flesh and spirit.  Every human body is the theatre of a twofold conflict—the fight of the human with the animal, and the fight of the spiritual with the human.  The first law of life is Excelsior!  All nature is one great fight upwards.  The fight is of course fiercest at the top, and the animal that pulls the man back, and the man that pulls the spirit back, are the enemies fighting within us all our days.  The struggle for existence is also the struggle for a rise, for advance, for development; and religion has sprung up out of the necessities of that struggle and the sympathy of the divine with our soaring aspirations.

    These are the things that lie behind the text.  The struggle is so fierce that the soul is every moment threatened with that slipping back into a lower state which perpetually haunts every living thing, and which evolutionists call 'reversion to type.'  The degree in which we are men and women is the degree in which we conquer the animal, and the degree in which we are spiritual is exactly the degree in which we have triumphed over the earthy and the human.  The lower fight—that with the animal—we are all agreed, must be a fight to the finish; but the other part of the conflict is by no means agreed about.  The struggle of the spiritual with the human has but begun, and for most of us the only conflict that matters is the fight for the rights of free, immortal spirits over mundane things.  The flesh is not yet conquered; but the earthy, the temporal, the material—everything we include in the word world, its interests, allurements, ambitions, appetites—that is the enemy of enemies! that is the foe on our very sword-points within reach of the very death-grapple.  Early and late, at home and abroad, individually and collectively, our great enemy is worldliness—the love of the present, the material, the earthy; and the burden of the gospel message, of New Testament teaching, the monotonous but perpetual warnings of religion, of Christ, of St. Paul, of St. James, is: 'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world: and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.'

    Worldliness, then, is not the name of a thing but of a whole species, not of a solitary enemy but of a whole regiment—the regiment, in fact, which man has to face.  In this fourth chapter St. James has been indicating a few of them: sins of speech, trust in good works, dead faith, envy, covetousness, moral cowardice—all members of the same species, all children of the same common father, worldliness.

    But now we come to a curious specimen, an example of what is meant by worldliness which is so trumpery comparatively as to shake our confidence in the whole indictment.  He takes up a mere trick of speech, a practice which we moderns, and especially we northern English, with our native reticence on all the deeper subjects, have agreed to taboo, and insists that the neglect of it is not merely not virtuous but a serious sin.  Our Puritan forefathers introduced religion into their most trivial and commercial conversation, and interlarded all their talk with pious phrases, texts of Scripture, and the like.  And the early Methodists followed much the same practice, if not to the same extent.  Even down to times some of us can remember, our letters, placards, and circulars announcing coming events contained the initials (D.V.) or 'God willing,' or at least, 'If all be well.'

    Why have they dropped out?  Why do we now scrupulously avoid them?  Because we are so much more worldly and ignore their implications?  No, but because they were abused, dragged into the mire, and made the cloaks of deceit and hypocrisy.  It is much easier to imitate a man's garments than his person; the words of great ideas are much more easy to counterfeit than the spirit of them, and so these sacred phrases became the stock-in-trade of the humbug, and all honest people began scrupulously to avoid them.  The historian, the essayist, and the novelist have satirized such hypocrisy ad nauseam, and when it is introduced on the Exchange or the market in ordinary conversation it excites chilly suspicion and the buttoning up of our pockets.  It is the same in our public life.  Our language is one vast mosaic of Scripture phraseology, but of late we have begun to eschew them because they have become suspect.  In the Franco-German War the Emperor William's telegrams to the Empress announcing his victories were so fulsomely pious that Punch expressed the almost universal disgust of all decent people by printing a stanza which has since become historic:


By grace divine, my dear Augusta,
We've had another awful buster:
Ten thousand Frenchmen sent below!
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!


    When it came to things like that, it was high time to make a change; and so, latterly, religious phraseology has very much dropped out of common speech.  It is a change for the better, a mark of improvement and not of decadence.  Mental culture always brings delicacy and reticence about the deeper things: the more profoundly we feel the less we speak of it.

    Then is St. James inviting us to return to the old practice and expose ourselves once more to the old abuse?  No! we abstain from pious language for common use because the things they represent are too sublime, too precious for vulgar employment; it is because we think more of them, and not less.  It is the greatness, the profundity, the far-reaching significance of these things that makes us silent about them.  That is a beautiful sentiment, if it be true, but is it?  Are we silent about life's greatest things because they have sunk too deep within us and fill us too entirely, so that we cannot bear to speak lightly of them?  We must each hold this mirror to our souls for ourselves.  'Judge yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord.'

    Perhaps we can find what is our rule in these matters.  A man brags about his breed of dogs, his tulips, his brand of cigars; but never dreams of boasting about his wife or his mother.  Brags about his skill at billiards, but never of the blessed, life-long sacrifice he is making for his family; is conceited about his execution on the flute, but never of the beautiful, modest, Christian life he is living.  Why?  Ask such a man that question and he would call you a Philistine—you are trifling; these things are infinitely too sacred to be bandied about in common conversation.  The man who jokes about his 'girl' is not in love; it is the man who has not a word to say about his lady-love, but blushes at the mention of her name, that will marry.  That is the rule: how does it apply in these higher things—God, religion, the transcendent dream of immortality? we are silent enough about these things—why?  Is it because they are too precious, too important to come into common use?  Is it?  Good, if it is so; but is it?  If God is really at the centre of our lives, if religion is our very atmosphere, and the hope of immortality throbs like an intoxication through our whole being, we shall not need to print texts of Scripture on our bill-heads, or write Deo volente on our advice notes.  Religion would be better on our invoices than nowhere, better in our commonest conversation than nowhere.  Where is our religion?  Who ever sees it or feels it?  Who would ever find it out without being told?  In our hearts, is it?  Anything that enters the fleshly heart passes through every vein and artery down to our very finger-tips—does our religion do that?  Is it so potent, so pervasive, and all-predominant in our lives that it would be mere trifling to look for it?  Is our life so saturated with the hope of immortality that it would be as ridiculous to speak of it as to say that the sun gives light?  We should not know of the sun but for the light it gives; is our religion like that?  Try the question by the test St. James suggests: we are immortal; nothing can ever snuff us out, we are to go on, not merely existing but growing, improving, refining more and more gloriously through all the ages.  Compared with that life of the future, the present is the merest speck—a moment, a breath, a whiff of vapour.  If there is one truth that it would be more ridiculous to deny than another, we feel it is that.  Not only God and religion, but all history, all philosophy, all literature, all poets, every grave on earth, every old wife's maxim, asserts the fact.  Another universally accepted truth is the uncertainty of life, the constant happening of the unexpected.  'We know not what a day nor an hour may bring forth.'  And yet, whilst this little, temporary, uncertain present absorbs all our time and thought and care, the great certainty of immortality, as we hold it, never enters into some of our heads from day to day.  We say that God is the centre, soul, mainspring of our lives; and yet in daily business plans, our pleasures, our domestic arrangements, God is too often not even thought of, let alone seriously consulted.  What does this show?  That we ought to introduce the divine name into our common talk? that God willing' should come into our letters and speeches and printing?  Not necessarily; that is a detail.  The truth is that God, religion, and immortality are such immense conceptions that if they really had any place in our lives pious phrases would become ridiculously superfluous, the fact being so tremendous that the mention of it would be carrying coals to Newcastle.  We should never think of teaching a watchmaker how to tell the time, or explaining to a farmer that crops come from seeds; but if a man could not read a clock-face and yet insisted he was a watchmaker, or a man contended that crops grew of themselves and yet declared himself to be a farmer, we should laugh at the very absurdity of it.  And so, when men say that they have got hold of the great ideas of religion and yet have not grasped such simple facts connected with it as that the present is uncertain and all that goes with it, we should feel, if it were not too tragic, that there was nothing for it but to laugh.

    The position is, then, that we have given up the use of pious phrases because the things they represent are so precious that we cannot endure to see them abused; because the ideas they represent have become such great factors in our lives that the outward naming of them, if not unnecessary, may at least be taken for granted.  But is that the actual state of the case?  Can we take the large place and power of spiritual ideas in these times for granted?  If we can, how is it that, whilst our tastes have refined us so that we have become fastidious about the use of pious words, the spirit of the age, the spirit of the average modern Christian, has become earthier, more materialistic and worldly?  No, no! the truth is that in suppressing the word we have also suppressed the thing; left it out of our speeches, but left it also out of our thoughts.  Self-deception is, to mortals, the easiest of all things, and there is evidence enough that in this matter we are deluding ourselves!—or, if not deluding, we are at least forgetting ourselves.

    Why is it that this world has suddenly become so prominent in religious teaching?  Why do we hear so much and often that


Heaven and hell, their joy and pain,
              Are now and here?


Why is it that we are so constantly hearing it insisted upon that, if we have any interest or mission at all, it is with this present life.  Is it that this life has suddenly been discovered to be some grand, worthy thing that knocks the bottom out of all the old philosophy?  No, no!  Men write of this life more bitterly than ever, as witness Heine, Nietzsche, and even Goethe.  It is that the great, precious, permanent life beyond depends on this; that, in fact, this is the measure of that.  It is eternity that makes time; it is the life immortal that gives significance to this little earthly day.  A door is not even a door apart from the place it occupies in a building; and this earthly life of ours, rich, fascinating, and beautiful, is a mere meaningless nothing—as our greatest thinkers protest—apart from the great real life it opens into.  God, religion, and eternal life are things too big not to be seen in even the shyest human life—Seen?  Any one of them is so great that where it is nothing else should be able to be seen.  Yes, that is the true philosophy; my religion is not part of my life—it is my life; self, business, politics, and the like become parts of it.  When a man once grasps the fact—insisted upon to weariness by all great modern scientists—that the only real things are the spiritual, and that material things are but the garments in which the spirit dresses itself; that the soul may cast them as the snake casts its skin—that man has taken another step in the evolution of his species; he has advanced by one great stride to the higher form of existence, and given a new and infinitely loftier meaning to the name of man.  Could such a man live for days without so much as a thought of God?  Would such a man make his business, personal, and domestic plans without any reference to the great unending future?  This is our ideal, our high calling.  Many of us are engaged in business, our lives and labours are necessarily spent in trade.  Has God to come into our trade? religion and immortality to find a place in our bargaining, our buying and selling, our serving and being served?  No, no! He is in, the soul and centre and spirit of it all!  It is only blindness and stupidity that leaves Him out.  As Martineau put it: 'Your religion has not to come into your business—your business is your religion.'  Every part of our lives is penetrated with God.  You have not made a little corner of your life for God—you cannot put a cathedral into a pill-box!  He has taken you and all your concerns and trappings, your sorrows and worries and burdens and perplexities, up into His own immensity; you and all you have are become parts of the great scheme of human uplifting.  There is the truth.  Our besetting fault is our littleness; our poor, mean, belittling limitations.  God calls us to greatness; to grandeur of development and splendour of life—calls us to a perpetual upward climb, 'forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward to the things that are before,' so that at length, 'beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed from glory to glory, as by the Lord the Spirit.'

    'If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.'  'He that knoweth to do these things and doeth them not, to him it is sin.'


 
XV.

POVERTY AND RICHES

Go to, ye rich men! &c. —JAS. V. 1 -6.


ST. JAMES has reached a very delicate subject, in these days almost too hot to handle. The atmosphere of modern social life is so saturated with inflammable material that it is ready to be exploded by the slightest spark. But the reasons that make it dangerous are the reasons that make it important, and its discussion necessary. The topic could not have been more timely, even in St. James's days. The relation of wealth to poverty and poverty to wealth is the question of the day with most of us; but poverty has become so clamorous and wealth so sensitive that it is scarcely possible to touch the subject.  The danger arises from the fact that the discussion is a game without umpires.  We are all compromised, all in the nature of the case partisans, with vital personal interests involved.  And if we turn to other sources for light and guidance the difficulty is not lessened.  Countless myriads have lived on the earth before us, and have wrestled with this question, and their experience is what we call history.  History is simply one monotonous story of the eager pursuit of wealth and the things that wealth buys; but the verdict of history, the moral drawn by unanimous human nature and sent down to us as its final conclusion is that 'the love of money is the root of all evil.'  It is the same if we turn to philosophy.  The wisdom of the ages, the master-minds of the race, have kept their sternest censures, their most biting satires and their most terrible denunciations, for wealth, and yet their disciples pursue it as hotly as ever; even the philosophers have lent themselves to chicanery and deceit to procure it.  Read the world's great poets and you will grow weary of their eternal drone against riches; read their lives, and you will find that those of them who had wealth abused it and those who had it not abused God, man, and the universe for withholding it.  All the great religions of the race have set the denunciation of wealth in the foreground of their teaching, and yet most of these religions have been killed by the possession of it.  That is the great puzzle, the unanswerable conundrum of the race.  Man preaches against it with his fiercest logic and his most impassioned eloquence, and yet pursues it with a relentless persistence he gives to nothing else.  If an inhabitant of another planet paid us a visit, and, at the close of his tour were asked what he concluded to be the chief aim of man he would probably answer, 'The getting of money '; and yet he would find that the books in our libraries, our lecture-halls, our pulpits, our newspapers all warn us for ever against it.  Imagine a youth entering this world to live his life what glaring contradictions he meets everywhere!  He finds the people he most respects—friends, teachers, ministers, his own father, the books he reads and the sermons and lectures he hears, warning him, above all things, to beware of the love of money; and yet he finds these same friends—father, brother, minister—putting in their daily action a value upon money they set upon nothing else!

    Let him try to solve the mystery himself, and he will be met at the very threshold of life with the stern, sad mandate, 'By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou live.'  He will discover that he cannot keep even his body—which to kill is to sin—alive without money; that everything he wants is monopolized and must be paid for; that the nature of things, the laws of life, leave him no option; and that if there be a God, and this is His world, God plainly means that he shall get money, and has so arranged the world that he cannot do without it.  If he is a wise, thoughtful young man, he will find, as he looks steadily at the situation, that on this point, at any rate, all the talk of the world is on one side, and all the deed on the other.  This is no novel suggestion; every reflective person has mused upon it again and again.  What is the answer to this standing anomaly, this flagrant contradiction?

    In the house of God we are not Socialists and Individualists, Liberals or Conservatives, Imperialists or Republicans: we are fellow Christians, united on the one great question that embraces and yet transcends them all.  Here, then, on the higher level of thought we occupy whilst waiting upon God—what is the religion of the question?  What, first of all, is the teaching of Scripture?  At first glance it seems as contradictory as the rest.  Take these scorching sentences of St. James's, for instance.  He was a natural Conservative, the soul of the conservative tendencies in the earliest Christian church; and yet these verses sound like the inflated peroration of a Socialist speech or pamphlet.  But it is only sound.  This question touches us all so closely that we bring to the discussion sensitive, mind-warping prejudices, so that we find it difficult to give the subject a fair hearing.  We must try for a dispassionate view: after all, our supreme need is the truth; we have no concern, no interest, but the truth.

    Here then, in this holy place, far away from the clink of the cash-box, the whiz of machinery, and the clatter of commerce; far from socialistic and political disputations, let us, with our souls in our eyes, look at this thing as it is.  The order of nature, the laws of life, the very necessities of existence, and the example of our fellow creatures preach to us the value of money.  The literature of the world, the philosophy and hoary wisdom, the religions and the economic and social doctrines of society, warn us against it.  Which is right, and what course should be followed?  As usual we are to follow both—and neither.  Both are right if we understand; both are wrong if we do not understand.  Take the text.  It is a sweeping, uncompromising attack.  On what?  On wealth as wealth?—nothing of the sort!  The whole Bible, from back to back, contains not one word against wealth as wealth.  And what is more, not one word against the wealthy as wealthy.  If it had done so the position of God-fearing men in this world would have been intolerable, and the struggle of life an excruciating impossibility.  It is time to get rid of our weak sentimentalizing, and our paltry, unreal rhetoric.  We know, we all know, that the getting and using of money is our commonest earthly business, and that not by accident, nor as the outcome of human depravity or a distortion of the divine purpose.  If our eyes are of any use to us, if our brains are to be trusted, if the laws of life have any authority, if the constitution of the world proclaims anything at all, and if God has given us any indication of His will in the way the world and the social system are arranged, it is surely that the making and spending of money is intended to be the chief pursuit of the great majority of us.

    But is not the making of character, what is called the saving of the soul, the great end of life?  Certainly!  And this world is the shop in which that work is to be done.  And it is suggested to you that if, coming into this world of a workshop, man finds it so arranged that, whether he will or no, he must make money, it follows that the God who made it, and made it so, thought that moneymaking was an exercise peculiarly suited to the development of character.  That it would draw out, elevate, invigorate, test and strengthen, and in every way improve us better than anything else we could be at.

    And does not our experience confirm that?  Are not all who are competent to judge agreed that there is no school of character anything like so effective as the school of business, whether as master or servant? that for imparting knowledge of human nature, of men, of things, above all of self, there is no school like business?  Is it a delusion that makes commercial probity the common touchstone of character?  Is it not an everyday maxim that you never know any man until you have had business transactions with him?  Ah, no! it is not for nothing that the world is arranged as it is.  The making of money is the common lot; and, though rough and harsh and severe, it is for the most part blessedly healthy, stiffening, widening, and enriching, and it provides the common foundations indispensable to all character-building—foundations on which some of the loveliest types of man and womanhood the world has seen have been erected.  And that is not all.  Money is a handmaid of virtue, and under its softening influence many a man has developed strange, beauteous, fragrant forms of character which neither he nor the world ever dreamed he had in him.  Money is a great elevator, a caster-out of ignorance, coarseness, and stupidity.  Money is a wonderful sensitizer, giving a new delicacy and gentleness, and producing high susceptibility to sympathetic impulses.  Money is a great civilizes, a great socializer, a great educator, a great inventor—in fact, a mighty earthly saviour.  Oh, if we only knew it! if we only understood!  If our power to use money were only equal to its abundance, what a paradise could we bring again to this poor earth!  What wrongs could be righted, what misery and pain and darkness done away! and how soon might this weary, struggling, heart-broken race of man go swinging in his planet through space, the happiest thing that God has made!


Fly, happy sails, and bear the press;
Fly, happy with the mission of the cross.
Knit land to land, and, blowing heavenward,
Enrich the markets of the Golden Year.


    Ah! there's the rub!  Great gifts are always great temptations, and it would be difficult to find a more complete example.  As Goethe's biographer expresses it, 'There is no great gift in this world which is not also a great burden to its possessor.'  Emerson, in his essay on wealth, insists that man is born to be rich, and proofs of that fact are too many and too varied to admit of contradiction.  The bountiful providence of God—or, if you prefer it, mother Nature—provides with lavish abundance for us, and incessantly invites us to ask for more.  And poor, self-deluded human nature, with immense supplies from earth and air and sea, and with power of increasing them ad infinitum, has never yet been able to contrive how to manage the mere business of distribution.  Civilization has been improving us for thousands of years, Christianity has been shedding forth its benign influences upon society for nineteen centuries, the world was never so wealthy as it is to-day, and never anything like so well equipped for increasing that wealth as it is at this moment; and yet the crying evils of lavish, dangerous luxury on one hand, and grinding, soul-destroying poverty on the other were never so obvious and so acute as they are at present.  There is no need to be pessimistic; our new and growing concern and sensitiveness to these things is the happiest of auguries.  Bad as things are, they were perhaps never better; and certainly there was never more readiness to consider, and anxiety to cure, them.

    No purpose is served by indiscriminate denunciation of each other; that would only intensify the class feeling which is fast becoming dangerous to us.  We preach the Golden Opportunity!  Our text is important because it calls attention, in terrible language, to a serious evil too long endured; it also suggests to us how far we have got since these words were written.  St. James's words are very stern, but every serious-minded person would endorse them.  Wealth got by oppression and cruelty is, we all agree, a curse to him who gets it, and a scourge to him from whom it is wrung.  We hold, if we do not always act up to our conviction, that ill-gotten gain is like the coming of leprosy into a house—a contagious pestilence to every one who touches it.  The spirit behind St. James's teaching has something to show for itself, and has created a sentiment for which this poor earth is infinitely the richer.  We have purged the world almost entirely of the horrors of slavery, got rid of the degradation of feudalism, improved the lot of woman, and even brought modern industrialism to the bar of public opinion.  But the work is not yet done—it is scarcely begun. In this rich, bountiful, lavish, abundant earth of ours half the entire race live either on the poverty line or below it; and for people with the spirit of Christ in them this cannot be tolerated.

    We have seen, just now, the advantages of wealth, and reminded ourselves that advantage is the measure of responsibility. Those who get most out of this world have most responsibility for its well-being.

    Now let us remind ourselves of a few other things.  We have seen that money gives immunity from some of the grosser forms of temptation; and yet the coarser vices of society, if we may believe the newspapers, are proportionately commoner amongst the rich than amongst the poor.  Wealth brings refinement, higher sensitiveness, a tenderer susceptibility; and yet remedies, when belatedly they come, come of fear rather than sympathy.  The reforms needed to help the poor have always to come from the poor.  Wealth is a great release; a man who has money, liberty, and leisure has opportunity for the consideration of the graver problems of society; and yet our social enrichment and intellectual assistances, our poets, philosophers, reformers, inventors, discoverers, come much more commonly from the poor than the rich.  Riches bring education, leisure, and that aloofness from the common struggle which gives the more impartial perspective and time for thought and reading; but great reforms do not usually come from the upper classes.  Serious and costly mistakes are being made, crude and visionary socialistic experiments are being advocated and even tried, because those who have opportunity and equipment for thinking on these pressing problems, who know or who have the means of getting to know, who are the natural guides and teachers of their less fortunate fellow creatures, do not instruct them.

    Wealth is a great thing; wealth is a reformer, a revolutionist, a rescuer, a great human means of making a man a blessed human saviour; but the redeemers of the race, from Christ downwards, have generally come from amongst the lowliest.

    Great is money, great its power, great its responsibilities, but greatest of all its opportunities.  Christian people have left behind for ever the rude and barbarous forms of oppression condemned by St. James, but they are still with us.  It is not necessary to exhort decent people not to get their money dishonestly, but it is still being done.  Aye, and tolerated where it insufficiently successful!  It is not necessary to stimulate charity of the common sort, but we have come to realize that almsgiving is often immoral, and aggravates the very evils it would remove.  No, no!  The social disease has struck too deep, and men have become too enlightened for mere temporary remedies; something stronger, more drastic, more scientific and permanent, is called for.  It is too late to satisfy our consciences by relieving distress; poverty is an intrusion, for the most part an unnecessary evil, that is not to be assuaged but rooted out!

    A large order, a long contract?  Yes, but wealth is great; wisdom and sympathy are strong, man is becoming more to his fellow man every day, and God is not dead!  The poor do not ask our charity, but our sympathy, our interest, our loving guidance and assistance.  They ask for fair play, an even chance; for justice, encouragement, and leading.  We are scandalized at the 'crude, ill-conceived, and futile nostrums of Socialism'; very well, the desperateness of the suggested remedies is the measure of the seriousness of the evil.  The poor are ignorant, are they?—we are their teachers.  Prejudiced, envious, covetous, are they?—we are their examples.  Misguided, discontented, ungrateful—we are their guides.  Oh, if the wealth, the learning, the leisure of this great country would seize its opportunity and do its part, a blessed social millennium is within reach of us, and a message of deliverance and hope might go out to the whole world.  It is not necessary here to repeat the terrible warnings about the deadliness of money hoarded or ill spent—the Bible, all history, all literature, rings with it.  There is a more excellent way; there is a practical, alluring chance of the Golden Year.

    Think what knowledge, opportunity, and sympathy might do!  If we would think of these things, read, discuss, inform ourselves about them, and patiently reason with our fellow mortals concerning them, then many empty, luxury-stifled lives might be filled with meaning and music, undying interest and charm, and we might see coming to us, even amid the hard, unpoetic conditions of modern life, the state in which 'A man shall be as a hiding-place. . . . The shadow of a great rock in a weary land,' and—


Wealth no more shall rest in mounded heaps,
But, smit with freer light, shall slowly melt
In many streams to fatten lower lands;
And light shall spread, and man be liker man
Through all the seasons of the Golden Year.


 
XVI.

THE FUTURE

Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord, &c.     JAS. v. 7-11.


THE newest thing in philosophy is Pragmatism.  Its chief sponsor—to us at any rate—is Professor William James, the great American psychologist, and author of that marvellous book, The Varieties of Religious Experience.  Pragmatism seems to be a sort of glorified utilitarianism, with its roots in evolution.  As the supreme evidence of religion is personal experience, so its best outward proof is workability, fitness, fruit.  That theory of life and the universe is truest which works best and produces the best results.  The philosophic world is divided into two camps, materialistic and spiritualistic.  One believes that at bottom matter is everything, the other that spirit is everything.  But the difficulty is that neither of these two theories works, neither meets all the objections, and neither makes any difference in the way of results.  Pragmatism is eclectic, indifferent; it accepts Materialism, Spiritism, or any other 'ism' that is workable, and that proves itself most fruitful in actual practice.

    Perhaps we may give this latest theory at least a tentative welcome.  Christianity, at all events, has nothing to fear from it.

    Compared with what remains to be done, Christianity is most healthily and heartily ashamed of her record; but compared with what any other religion or philosophy has effected, she comes out triumphant.  For example: the distinction of Christianity is its wide and ever-widening horizon the faster you approach its sky-line the faster it opens before you, and the wider and longer the prospects it reveals.  As you pursue it, the little island becomes a country, the country a continent, the continent a world, and the world a universe; and when you think that here at length you reach the boundary, there burst upon you bewildering galaxies of uncountable systems that make you, with Schiller's angel, throw up your arms and cry, 'End there is none; lo, also, there is no beginning.'

    Turn again to the passage we are considering.  St. James has been getting very animated; the various evils he has had to denounce have excited him, he glows with hot indignation, and finally flings off that burning apostrophe of wealth which opens the chapter.  And then he seems to recollect himself.  His real business is not with the great corrupt and corrupting world outside, but with the little struggling Jewish Ghettos dotted here and there throughout the Roman Empire, and the poor, long-suffering saints that constitute them.  Their position was well nigh intolerable, their troubles many, their enemies legion; and their great need, therefore, was consolation and encouragement.  That was the main purpose with which he set out: their great need was patience; with that word he had commenced his letter, and now, within sight of the end, he returns to it.  'Be patient, my brethren; the day of the Lord is at hand.'  Yes, 'the day of the Lord.'  What that term means to us we may leave for a moment, but what did it signify to the people he was addressing?  The situation was fast becoming unendurable; things were about as bad as they could be.  An unconquerable instinct makes humanity everywhere believe that, when things are at their worst, they are about to mend.  That feeling was strong in the early Christians: any change would be a change for the better.  They had no history, as we understand it, and for practical purposes, very little imagination.  They belonged to a woodenly natural age, and the great things of life, political, social, religious, were so bad that there must be a change of some sort.  But trouble makes us apprehensive; calamity makes us anxious and anticipatory.  It is easy to believe what you either greatly wish or fear.  It seemed to everybody that the drama of life had got to its last act, and that the great world-tragedy was at hand; so that pious people, both Jews and heathen, were looking for the dénouement.  Christ Himself had spoken much and often of a mystic return.  Is there any wonder that the persecuted, world-weary saints, with their literal, limited minds, looked eagerly for a wonderful and immediate second coming?  It was their only hope, the only glimmer of light in the midnight outlook.  Well, there came days of the Lord enough for some of them.  Death—that became, under the magic of their new hope, a great deliverance, a mighty triumph, 'an abundant entrance.'  Martyrdom—a mystical blend of tragedy and triumph so intoxicating and alluring that they actually sought it, and had to be restrained by spiritual pains and penalties from provoking it.  The destruction of Jerusalem—perhaps the ghastliest tragedy of its kind in history, with its sanguinary vindication of divine righteousness and retribution.  Oh, no, they were not disappointed; the things they meant, or at least the things we read into their words, never happened.  The apparently moribund Roman Empire lasted hundreds of years, and Christianity calmly thrust back her horizons and turned the realms of the Caesars into a most powerful instrument for her propagation.  'The world moves!' said Galileo, and was promptly denounced as the destroyer of Christianity: if the earth moved, Christianity was undone.  But the world rolled on, the New Religion removed another of the world's curtains, thrust back her sky-line, and gave us a wider view of God, man, and the universe.  Amid the clash and cataclysm of the Reformation, Luther said the world would probably last about another hundred years: Christianity thrust back her boundaries, took Luther and his coadjutors into the same service as astronomy had already entered, and moved majestically on.

    Bishop Colenso drew down the world's window-blinds, and bade men prepare for Christianity's funeral; but the sun that was setting turned out to be rising, and we now stand in a noon-day of knowledge and possibility such as men never dreamed of before.  Darwin's evolution struck like a thunderbolt at Paley's popular eighteenth-century iron-clad, mechanical deity, and shattered it to fragments; but the structure that rose from the apparent ruins was so amazing, so grand and great and all-enlarging, that the 'flower in the crannied wall,' the 'Primrose by a river's brim,' the 'stars in their courses,' became magic telescopes revealing the infinite, and man stood up to realize every common bush is afire with God.'

    Every great religion of the world has stood in the path of Christianity like a fell destroyer; but one by one she has picked out what was vital from each of them, and, like Samson gathering honey from the slain lion, has added something to her store, enriching her own life and extending her borders.  The little, parochial millennium of the Jews has become the universal expectation of the race; the limited, personal salvation of the individual soul a vast design extending its dominion to every faculty, interest, and prospect of our many-sided nature; whilst every movement of society, every upheaval of opinion and aspiration, eventually drops into Christianity's train and helps to swell her triumphal progress.  Yes, the change since St. James's time is immense, and the horizon widens faster and farther than ever.  To them the world was a bad old man in his last debauch, senile, effete, played out, and rotten-ripe for destruction.  To us the world is new, young, and mysteriously full of suggestions of boundless possibilities yet to be; each discovery or invention produces a hundred more, and life is a very Pandora's box filled with wondrous things and with mighty hope at the bottom.  The little, local Jewish 'Coming of the Lord' has become—


     One far-off, divine event
To which the whole creation moves.


We do not want any winding-up of the world's affairs, any meeting of the creditors of a bankrupt universe.  We are just beginning to guess its infinite, incredible riches.  We are discovering ourselves, and what a wondrous combination of marvel and mystery humanity is.  We are just discovering the world, and the brain reels as we whisper to each other its hidden possibilities of wealth, beauty, and power.  Every branch of science stands like a beautiful angel at its own golden door, and, pointing inward, is crying to us, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive' the things that are laid up for us.  Knowledge is coming to us in such torrential rushes that the handbook of almost any science you choose to name is out of date before it can get itself printed.  Our very history is upsetting us dreadfully.  The farther forward we go the farther back we can see, and the farther back we see the more alluring and resplendent does the future appear.  Social reforms are said nowadays to be making rushes, the fact being that by the time we have made one laborious step upward we have discovered fifty dizzy peaks still to be attained.  Theological science, which Macaulay used to say was 'not of the nature of a progressive science,' has made greater advances in our short life-time than in centuries before.  The light that streams through the closed doors of nature is so brilliant, now that we have got rid of the brick-work that walled it up, that our appetite has become a ravenous passion that grows by what it feeds upon.  What we see are but hints, guesses, first glimpses, the grey dawn-streaks of knowledge.  We want to see the day, to—


        Dip into the future far as human eye can see,
See the vision of the world, and all the wonders yet to be.


    Looking back into the past as men never have done before, we see what man was, and what, in spite of all, he has become: the unmanageable nature he has tamed and trained, both in himself and the world, the illusions he has dispelled, the ignorances he has outgrown, the superstitions he has left behind, the tyrannies he has broken, and the emancipations he has achieved; and as all art, science, philosophy, history, and literature hold out to us instruments and weapons such as men never handled before, with promises of ever more and better, we thrill with consciousness of power, and, glowing with a sense of unity and brotherhood, we are ready, like Joshua, to bid the sun stand still till the world's wrongs are righted and the sorrow, bitterness, loneliness, and despair of man for ever done away.

    And that is where we touch our brothers of the Dispersion.  In spite of our deeper insight and wider outlook many a lonely dreamer and many a weary worker will thrill with sympathy at St. James's exhortation to patience.  Although we no longer look for the little temporary consummation the early saints longed to see, our position is none the easier on that account.  As the outlook widens the burden weightens.  But one great change, at least, has come to us moderns.  The old Eastern fatalism, the stultifying sense of necessity, has passed away, and we no longer regard our troubles as inevitable.  Wrongs, hindrances, oppressions, are no longer things that must be endured; the oldest, deepest, fellest of them has come to be something that need not be, that must not, shall not be; but that must at all costs be altered.  The great curses which came to the early saints as calls to patient endurance are to us trumpet-calls to resistance; to endurance indeed, but of blows, wounds, and delays—the endurance of a battle-field and not of the lonely cell.  It is grand to have noble ideals and work at inspiring schemes, but our tasks are tasks of Sisyphus, and our balls roll remorselessly back upon us.  Religious toleration, for instance, won its first great victory hundreds of years ago, and Huss, Wyclif, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Cromwell, and Hampden have become national heroes; but modern educational controversies would seem to show that the work has still to be done.  The abolition of slavery, implicit in Christianity from the beginning, has been working like yeast in human thoughts ever since; but though, as a system, it has gone never to return, and feudalism has followed it, yet Congo atrocities, and the bare-faced iniquities of sweated labour, still mock our dreams of freedom and call for renewed effort and sacrifice.  The curbing of appetite, the necessity of self-control, and the deadly danger that slumbers in the wine-cup, were preached to man before the Bible was in being, and the wise and pure have fought it relentlessly all down the generations.  And yet the freest, boldest, most moral and religious race of the world is faced to-day with a highly organized, heavily capitalized, and deeply entrenched industry that defeats the reformer, robs the philanthropic worker of the fruits of his labour, and seriously threatens our place amongst the nations.

    Sunday schools have been in existence for one hundred and fifty years, the great majority of the people have enjoyed the unpaid services of this priceless institution; and yet, as the middle-aged worker turns round to look for the fruits of his efforts, he is confronted with a gross materialism, a feverish over-valuation of money, a frivolous literature, a wholesale indifference of the younger electorate to great issues, and a wide-spread neglect of religious institutions which may well make him ask himself whether further effort is not vain.  Wherever we turn, in our Christ-inspired lust of helpfulness, we are met with apparent failure and dead walls of stupid indifference.  Progress that is not progress, advance that mocks its name, meets us everywhere.  Every evil we attack seems a dog Cerberus which produces three heads for every one we destroy!  In dismal moments—and the best of workers have such—it is easy to think that the world grows worse instead of better.  The larger outlook and wider horizons we have got since early Christian times seem but to reveal wider fields of evil and endless multiplications of tasks.  From the lowliest teacher desponding over a neglected class to the loftiest dreamer of social millenniums, there is always cause enough for depression.  But St. James did not preach despondency, neither must we.  St. James appealed to the imagination, to the cultivation of a better sense of proportion, wider horizons and longer vision; and so must we.  The rotten civilization of the early Christian times did not perish of its own corruptions; the little salt grains of Christianity, too few and far between to be noticed by even the most scientific historians, began to sweeten the whole lump, and that which was intrinsically true in old paganism came to its assistance.  The little, local Judgement Day did not arrive; instead came persecution, exile, martyrdom: but in three hundred years the age-old paganism, majestic and hoary, was dead, and despised Christianity had become the religion of the Roman Empire.

    It were easy to make platitudes on the progress of the race, but our advance is slow enough, heart-breaking enough in all conscience.  We only seem to conquer one evil to be immediately confronted with another and greater one.  It is hard for human nature to endure, but she has somehow to endure it.  The true men of the bygone generations, weaker, poorer, shorter-sighted than we, have persevered, and we are the richer for their struggle.  Shall we fail where our fathers have succeeded?  There is danger lest we should become so absorbed in our own little temporary enterprises that we do not note how the world is moving.  But the world does not stand still because my own little donkey-cart gets fast in the ruts.  We ought to pause sometimes and look around.  The world is full, and has apparently always been full, of a mystic energy we call electricity; but it has taken us six thousand years to find the tap, and may take as many more to discover the reservoir.  The discovery of helium and radium and wireless telegraphy is showing us how much there is to learn about the most familiar things.  Anthropology and evolution are whispering to us lost secrets of our history which turn the brain dizzy with the possibilities they suggest.  We are seeing that—


           Through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.


    Every generation increases the pace of progress.  With all its pauses and lapses and doublings back, the world does manage to get forward somewhat.  New worlds to conquer rush on to our view faster than we can discharge our present tasks.  The temper of the times welcomes them, the gorge of the times rises to meet them; resolution and aspiration keep ever ahead of achievement.  Our sense of greatness grows faster than our greatening tasks.  The movements, reforms, revolutions, advances that call so loud for sacrifices are answered echo-like by our ever-deepening capacities.  Man, after all, grows faster than his tasks, and Christian courage faster than either.  Courage!  Patience!  The God who appeared in desponding, self-fearful moments to Moses and Joshua, to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, stands athwart this great, sick, struggling world to-day, and, stretching the blinding splendours of His omnipotence before disheartened, work-weary toilers, cries, 'Am not I a God at hand and not a God afar off?  Do not I fill heaven and earth?  Is not My word like a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? saith the Lord.'

Patience, weary waiter! Down in thy little sub-section of work, absorbed in the 'daily round and common task,' the contracted pupil of thy eye is too small for the longer vision; and in moments of increasing difficulty, failure, disheartenment and nausea at the stubbornness and ingratitude of men, you cry with plaintive wistfulness—


Watchman, tell us of the night,
If it aught of promise bear!


    Have patience and faith.  'Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice.'  'One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'  'The mills of God grind slowly.'

    If you are baffled, exasperated, discomfited, 'your strength is to sit still.'  If you are weary, exhausted, utterly tired of work, and preaching, and giving, of scheming, and committees, and efforts, and, above all, of weary waiting, the world's greatest Comforter invites, 'Come aside and rest awhile.'  In all discouragements and disappointments, in all sickness of hope and fretfulness of spirit, you are to wait patiently, for 'the Lord is good to them that wait for Him.'  'Wait on the Lord, and He shall comfort thine heart wait, I say, on the Lord.'


O thou who mournest on thy way,
With longings for the close of day,
He walks with thee, that angel kind,
And gently whispers, 'Be resigned.'

Bear up! bear on! the end shall tell
The dear Lord ordereth all things well.



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