Sermons for the Times
Charles Kingsley

Part 3 out of 4

this, if we are really Christians. If we have faith in God; if we
believe that God is worthy of our faith--a God whom we can trust; in
whom is neither caprice, deceit, nor darkness, but pure and perfect
light;--if we believe that we are His children, and that He wishes
us to be, like Himself, full of light, knowing what we are and what
the world is, because we know who God is;--if we believe that He
sent His Son into the world to reveal Him, to unveil Him, to draw
aside the veil which dark superstition and ignorance had spread
between man and God, and to show us the glory of God;--if we believe
this, then we shall be ready to expect that whatsoever is made
manifest would be light; for if God be light, all that He has made
must be light also. Like must beget like, and therefore light must
beget light, good beget good, love beget love; and therefore we
ought to expect that as true and sound knowledge increases, our
views of God will be more full of light.

Yes, my friends; under the influence of true science God will be no
longer looked upon, as He was in those superstitions which we well
call dark, as a proud, angry, capricious being, as a stern
taskmaster, as one far removed from the sympathy of men: but as one
of whom we may cheerfully say, Thy name be hallowed, for Thy name is
Father; Thy kingdom come, for it is a Father's kingdom; Thy will be
done, for it is a Father's will; and in doing Thy will alone men
claim their true dignity of being the sons of God.

Our views of our fellow-men will be more cheerful also; more full of
sympathy, comprehension, charity, hope; in one word, more full of
light. If it be true (and it is true) that God loves all, then we
should expect to find in all something worthy of our love. If it be
true that God willeth that none should perish, we should expect to
find in each man something which ought not to perish. If it be true
that God stooped from heaven, yea stoops from heaven eternally, to
seek and to save that which is lost, then we should have good hope
that our efforts to seek to save that which is lost will not be in
vain. We shall have hope in every good work we undertake, for we
shall know that in it we are fellow-workers with God.

Our notions of the world--of God's whole universe, will become full
of light likewise. Do we believe that this earth was made by Jesus
Christ?--by Him who was full of grace and truth? Do we believe our
Bibles, when they tell us, that He hath given all created things a
law which cannot be broken; that they continue as at the beginning,
for all things serve Him? Do we believe this? Then we must look on
this earth, yea on the whole universe of God, as, like its Master,
full of grace and truth; not as old monks and hermits fancied it, a
dark, deceiving, evil earth, filled with snares and temptations; a
world from which a man ought to hide himself in the wilderness, and
find his own safety in ignorance. Not thus, but as the old Hebrews
thought of it, as a glorious and a divine universe, in which the
Spirit of God, the Lord and Giver of life, creates eternal melody,
bringing for ever life out of death, light out of darkness, letting
his breath go forth that new generations may be made, and herein
renew the face of the earth.

And experience teaches us that this has been the case; that for near
one thousand eight hundred years there has been a steady progress in
the mind of the Christian race, and that this progress has been in
the direction of light.

Has it not been so in our notions of God? What has the history of
theology been for near one thousand eight hundred years? Has it not
been a gradual justification of God, a gradual vindication of His
character from those dark and horrid notions of the Deity which were
borrowed from the Pagans, and from the Jewish Rabbis? a gradual
return to the perfect good news of a good God, which was preached by
St. John and by St. Paul?--In one word, a gradual manifestation of
God; and a gradual discovery that when God is manifested, behold,
God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all?

That progress, alas! is not yet perfect. We still see through a
glass darkly, and we are still too apt to impute to God Himself the
darkness of those very hearts of ours in which He is so dimly
mirrored. And there are men still, even in Protestant England, who
love darkness rather than light, and teach men that God is dark, and
in Him are only scattered spots of light, and those visible only to
a favoured few; men who, whether from ignorance, or covetousness, or
lust of power, preach such a deity as the old Pharisees worshipped,
when they crucified the Lord of Glory, and offer to deliver men,
forsooth, out of the hands of this dreadful phantom of their own
dark imaginations.

Let them be. Let the dead bury their dead, and let us follow
Christ. Believe indeed that He is the likeness of God's glory, and
the express image of God's person, and you will be safe from the
dark dreams with which they ensnare diseased and superstitious
consciences. Let them be. Light is stronger than darkness; Love
stronger than cruelty. Perfect God stronger than fallen man; and
the day shall come when all shall be light in the Lord; when all
mankind shall know God, from the least unto the greatest, and
lifting up free foreheads to Him who made them, and redeemed them by
His Son, shall in spirit and in truth, worship The Father.

Does not experience again show us that in the case of our fellow-
men, whatsoever is made manifest, is light?

How easy it was, a thousand years ago--a hundred years ago even, to
have dark thoughts about our fellow-men, simply because we did not
know them! Easy it was, while the nations were kept apart by war,
even by mere difficulty of travelling, for Christians to curse Jews,
Turks, Infidels, and Heretics, and believe that God willed their
eternal perdition, even though the glorious collect for Good Friday
gave their inhumanity the lie. Easy to persecute those to whose
opinions we could not, or would not, take the trouble to give a fair
hearing. Easy to condemn the negro to perpetual slavery, when we
knew nothing of him but his black face; or to hang by hundreds the
ragged street-boys, while we disdained to inquire into the
circumstances which had degraded them; or to treat madmen as wild
beasts, instead of taming them by wise and gentle sympathy.

But with a closer knowledge of our fellow-creatures has come
toleration, pity, sympathy. And as that sympathy has been freely
obeyed, it has justified itself more and more. The more we have
tried to help our fellow-men, the more easy we have found it to help
them. The more we have trusted them, the more trustworthy we have
found them. The more we have treated them as human beings, the more
humanity we have found in them. And thus man, in proportion as he
becomes manifest to man, is seen, in spite of all defects and sins,
to be hallowed with a light from God who made him.

And if it has been thus, in the case of God and of humanity, has it
not been equally so in the case of the physical world? Where are
now all those unnatural superstitions--the monkish contempt for
marriage and social life, the ghosts and devils; the astrology, the
magic, and other dreams of which I will not speak here, which made
this world, in the eyes of our forefathers, a doleful and dreadful
puzzle; and which made man the sport of arbitrary powers, of cruel
beings, who could torment and destroy us, but over whom we could
have no righteous power in return? Where are all those dark dreams
gone which maddened our forefathers into witch-hunting panics, and
which on the Continent created a priestly science of witch-finding
and witch-destroying, the literature whereof (and it is a large one)
presents perhaps the most hideous instance known of human cruelty,
cowardice, and cunning? Where, I ask, are those dreams now? So
utterly vanished, that very few people in this church know what a
great part they played in the thoughts of our forefathers; how
ghosts, devils, witches, magic, and astrology, filled the minds, not
only of the ignorant, but of the most learned, for centuries.

And now, behold, nature being made manifest, is light. Science has
taught men to admire where they used to dread; to rule where they
used to obey; to employ for harmless uses what they were once afraid
to touch; and, where they once saw only fiends, to see the orderly
and beneficent laws of the all-good and almighty God. Everywhere,
as the work of nature is unfolded to our eyes, we see beauty, order,
mutual use, the offspring of perfect Love as well as perfect Wisdom.
Everywhere we are finding means to employ the secret forces of
nature for our own benefit, or to ward off physical evils which
seemed to our forefathers as inevitable, supernatural; and even the
pestilence, instead of being, as was once fancied, the capricious
and miraculous infliction of some demon--the pestilence itself is
found to be an orderly result of the same laws by which the sun
shines and the herb grows; a product of nature; and therefore
subject to man, to be prevented and extirpated by him, if he will.

Yes, my friends, let us teach these things to our children, to all
children. Let us tell them to go to the Light, and see their
Heavenly Father's works manifested, and know that they are, as He
is, _Light_. I say, let us teach our children freely and boldly to
know these things, and grow up in the light of them. Let us leave
those to sneer at the triumphs of modern science, who trade upon the
ignorance and the cowardice of mankind, and who say, 'Provided you
make a child religious, what matter if he does fancy the sun goes
round the earth? Why occupy his head, perhaps disturb his simple
faith, by giving him a smattering of secular science?'

Specious enough is that argument: but shortsighted more than
enough. It is of a piece with the wisdom which shrinks from telling
children that God is love, lest they should not be sufficiently
afraid of Him; which forbids their young hearts to expand freely
towards their fellow-creatures: which puts into their mouths the
watchwords of sects and parties, and thinks to keep them purer
Christians by making them Pharisees from the cradle.

My friends, we may try to train up children as Pharisees: but we
shall discover, after twenty years of mistaken labour, that we have
only made them Sadducees. The path to infidelity in manhood is
superstition in youth. You may tell the child never to mind whether
the sun moves round the earth or not: but the day will come when he
will mind in spite of you; and if he then finds that you have
deceived him, that you have even left him in wilful ignorance, all
your moral influence over him is gone, and all your religious
lessons probably gone also. So true is it, that lies are by their
very nature self-destructive. For all truth is of God; and no lie
is of the truth, and therefore no lie can possibly help God or God's
work in any human soul. For as the child ceases to respect his
teachers he ceases to respect what they believe. His innate
instinct of truth and honour, his innate longing to believe, to look
up to some one better than himself, have been shocked and shaken
once and for all; and it may require long years, and sad years, to
bring him back to the faith of his childhood. Again I say it, we
must not fear to tell the children the whole truth; in these days
above all others which the world has yet seen. You cannot prevent
their finding out the truth: then for our own sake, let us, their
authorized teachers, be the first to tell it them. Let them in
after life connect the thought of their clergyman, their
schoolmaster, their church, with their first lessons in the free and
right use of their God-given faculties, with their first glimpses
into the boundless mysteries of art and science. Let them learn
from us to regard all their powers as their Heavenly Father's gift;
all art, all science, all discoveries, as their Heavenly Father's
revelation to men. Let them learn from us not to shrink from the
light, not to peep at it by stealth, but to claim it as their
birthright; to welcome it, to live and grow in it to the full
stature of men--rational, free, Christian English men. This, I
believe, must be the method of a truly Protestant education.

I said Protestant--I say it again. What is the watchword of
Protestantism? It is this. That no lie is of the truth. There are
those who complain of us English that we attach too high a value to
TRUTH. They say that falsehood is an evil: but not so great a one
as we fancy. We accept the imputation. We answer boldly that there
can be no greater evil than falsehood, no greater blessing than
truth; and that by God's help we will teach the same to our
children, and to our children's children. Free inquiry, religious
as well as civil liberty--this is the spirit of Protestantism. This
our fathers have bequeathed to us; this we will bequeath to our
children;--to know that all truth is of God, that no lie is of the
truth. Our enemies may call us heretics, unbelievers, rebellious,
political squabblers. They may say in scorn, You Protestants know
not whither you are going; you have broken yourselves off from the
old Catholic tree, and now, in the wild exercise of your own private
judgment, you are losing all that standard of doctrine, all unity of
belief. Our answer will be--It is not so: but even if it were so--
even if we did not know whither we were going--we should go forward
still. For though we know not, God knows. We have committed
ourselves to God, the living God; and He has led us; and we believe
that He will lead us. He has taught us; and we believe that He will
teach us still. He has prospered us, and we believe that He will
prosper us still: and therefore we will train up our children after
us to go on the path which has brought us hither, freely to use
their minds, boldly to prove all things, and hold fast that which is
good; manfully to go forward, following Truth whithersoever she may
lead them; trusting in God, the Father of Lights, asking Him for
wisdom, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it
shall be given them.

I have been asked to preach this day for the National Schools of
this parish. I do so willingly, because I believe that in them this
course of education is pursued, that conjoined with a sound teaching
in the principles of our Protestant church, and a wholesome and
kindly moral training, there is free and full secular instruction as
far as the ages of the children will allow. Were it not the case, I
could not plead for these schools; above all at this time, when the
battle between ancient superstition and modern enlightenment in this
land seems fast coming to a crisis and a death struggle. I could
not ask you to help any school on earth in which I had not fair
proof that the teachers taught, on physical and human as well as on
moral subjects, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help them God.


Matthew vi. 31, 32, 33. Be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat?
or, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for
after all these things do the heathen seek:) for your Heavenly
Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things
shall be added unto you.

We must first consider carefully what this text really means; what
'taking no thought for the morrow' really is. Now, it cannot mean
that we are to be altogether careless and imprudent; for all
Scripture, and especially Solomon's Proverbs, give us the very
opposite advice, and one part of God's Word cannot contradict the
other. The whole of Solomon's Proverbs is made up of lessons in
prudence and foresight; and surely our Lord did not come to do away
with Solomon's Proverbs, but to fulfil them. And more, Solomon
declares again and again, that prudence and foresight are the gifts
of God; and God's gifts are surely meant to be used. Isaiah, too,
tells us that the common work of the farm, tilling the ground,
sowing, and reaping, were taught to men by God; and says of the
ploughman, that 'His God doth instruct him to discretion and doth
teach him.' Neither can God mean us to sit idle with folded hands
waiting to be fed by miracles. Would He have given to man reason,
and skill, and the power of bettering his mortal condition by ten
thousand instructions if He had not meant him to use those gifts?
We find that, at the beginning, Adam is put into the garden, not to
sit idle in it, nor to feed merely on the fruits which fall from the
trees, as the dumb animals do, but to dress it, and to keep it; to
use his own reason to improve his own condition, and the land on
which God had placed him. Was not the very first command given to
man to replenish the earth and subdue it? And do we not find in the
very end of Scripture the Apostles working with their own hands for
their daily bread?

But what use of many words? It is absurd to believe anything else;
absurd to believe that man was meant to live like the butterfly,
flitting without care from flower to flower, and, like the
butterfly, die helpless at the first shower or the first winter's
frost. Whatever the text means, it cannot mean that.

And it does not mean that. I suppose, that three hundred years ago
(when the Bible was translated out of the Greek tongue, in which the
Apostles wrote, into English), 'taking thought' meant something
different from what it does now: but the plain meaning of the text,
if it be put into such English as we talk now, is, 'Do not _fret_
about the morrow. Be not anxious about the morrow.' There is no
doubt at all, as any scholar can tell you, that that is the plain
meaning of the word in our modern English, and that our Lord is not
telling us to be imprudent or idle, but not to be anxious and
fretful about the morrow.

And more, I think if we look carefully at these words, we shall find
that they tell us the very reason why we are to work, and to look
forward, and to believe that God will bless our labour.

And what is this reason? It is this, that we have a _Father_ in
heaven; not a mere Maker, not a mere Master, but a _Father_. All
turns on that one Gospel of all Gospels, _your Father in heaven_.
For our Lord seems to me to say, 'Be not anxious for your life, what
ye shall eat, or drink, or wear. Is not the life more than meat?
Has not your Heavenly Father given you a higher life than the mere
life which must be kept up by food, which He has given to the
animals? He has made you reasonable souls; He has given to you
wisdom from His own wisdom, and a share of the Light which lights
every man who comes into the world, the Light of Christ His Son; He
has created you in His own likeness, that like Him you may make
things, be makers and inventors, each in his place and calling, each
according to his talents and powers, even as your Heavenly Father,
the Maker and Creator of all things. And if He has given you all
these wonderful powers of mind and soul, surely He has given you the
less blessing, the mere power to earn your own food? If He has made
you so much wiser than the beasts, surely He has made you as wise as
the beasts.' 'And is not the body more than raiment?' Has He not
given you bodies which can speak, write, build, work, plant, in a
thousand cunning and wonderful ways; bodies which can do a thousand
nobler things than merely keep themselves warm, as the beasts do?
Then be sure, if He has given you the greater power, He has given
you the less also. And as for fine clothes and rich ornaments, 'Is
not the body more than raiment?' Is not your body a far more
beautiful and nobler thing than all the gay clothes with which you
can bedizen it? If your bodies be fair, strong, healthy, useful, it
matters little what clothes you put upon them. Why will you not
have faith in your Heavenly Father? Why will you not have faith in
the great honour which He put on you when He said at first, 'Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness, and let him have dominion
over all things on the earth'? Be sure, that God would not have
made man, and given him all these powers, and sent him upon this
earth, unless this earth had been a right good and fit place for
him. Be sure that if you obey the laws of this earth where God has
put you, you will never need to be anxious or fret; but you will
prosper right well, you and your children after you. For 'Consider
the fowls of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, and gather into
barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them; and are ye not much
better than they?' Surely you are, for you _can_ sow, and reap, and
gather into barns. And if God makes the earth work so well that it
feeds the fowls who cannot help themselves, how much more will the
earth feed you who _can_ help yourselves, because God has given you
understanding and prudence? But as for anxiety, fretting, repining,
complaining to God, 'Why hast Thou made me thus?' what use in that?
'Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?'
Will all the fretting and anxiety in the world make you one foot or
one inch taller than you are? Will it make you stronger, wiser,
more able to help yourself? You are what you are: you can do what
God has given you power to do. Trust Him that He has made you
strong enough and wise enough to earn your daily bread, and to
prosper right well, if you will, upon this earth which He has made.
And why be anxious about clothing? 'Consider the lilies of the
field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.' But
man _can_ toil, man _can_ spin; your Heavenly Father has given to
man the power of providing clothes for himself, and not for himself
only, but for others; so that while the man who tills the soil feeds
the man who spins and weaves, the man who spins and weaves shall
clothe the man who tills the soil; and the town shall work for the
country, while the country feeds the town; and every man, if he does
but labour where God has put him, shall produce comforts for human
beings whom he never saw, who live perhaps in foreign lands across
the sea. For the Heavenly Father has knit together the great family
of man in one blessed bond of mutual need and mutual usefulness all
over the world; so that no member of it can do without the other,
and each member of it--each individual man--let him work at what
thing he will, can make many times more of that thing than he needs
for himself, and so help others while he earns his own living; and
so wealth and comfort ought to increase year by year among the whole
family of men, ay, and would increase, if it were not for sin. Yes,
my friends, if it were not for that same _sin_--if it were not that
men do not seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
there would be no end, no bound to the wealth, the comfort, the
happiness of the children of men. Even as it is, in spite of all
man's sin, the world does prosper marvellously, miraculously; in
spite of all the waste, destruction, idleness, ignorance, injustice,
and folly which goes on in the world, mankind increases and
replenishes the earth, and improves in comfort and in happiness; in
spite of all, God is stronger than the Devil, life stronger than
death, wisdom stronger than folly, order stronger than disorder,
fruitfulness stronger than destruction; and they will be so, more
and more, till the last great day, when Christ shall have put all
enemies under His feet, and death is swallowed up in victory, and
all mankind is one fold under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the
righteous King of all.

But some may ask, What does our Lord mean when He says, 'That if we
sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these
things should be added to us?'

I cannot tell you altogether, my friends; for eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive
what God has prepared for those who love Him. But this I can tell
you, that these things are taken _from_ men, instead of being added
to them, by their not seeking first God's kingdom and His
righteousness. I can tell you, as the Prophet does, that it is the
sins of man which withhold good things from him; because though, as
the Prophet says in the same place, God sends the good things, and
the former and latter rain in their season, and reserves to men
still the appointed weeks of harvest, yet men will not fear that
same Lord their God; and therefore those good things are wasted, and
mankind remains too often miserable in spite of God's goodness, and
starving in the midst of God's plenty.

If you wish to know what I mean, look but once at this present war.
I do not complain of the war. I honour the war. I thank God from
the bottom of my heart for this great and glorious victory, and I
call on you to thank Him, too, for it. I am none of those who think
war sinful. I cannot do so, for I swore at my baptism to fight
manfully under Christ's banner against the world, the flesh, and the
Devil; and if we cannot reach the Devil and his works by any other
means, we must reach them as we are doing now, by sharp shot and
cold steel, and we must hold it an honourable thing, and few things
more honourable on earth, for a man to die fighting against evil
men, and an evil world-devouring empire, like that of Babylon of
old, or this of Russia now, that he may save not merely us who sit
here now, but our children's children, and generations yet unborn,
from Russian tyranny, and Russian falsehood, and Russian profligacy,
and Russian superstition. I say, I do not complain of this war; but
I ask you to look at the mere waste which it brings, the mere waste
of God's blessings. Consider all the skilful men now employed in
making cannon, shot, and powder to kill mortal men, who might every
one of them, in time of peace, have been employed in making things
which would feed, and clothe, and comfort mortal man. Consider that
very powder and shot itself, the fruit of so much labour and money,
made simply to be shot away, once for all, as if a man should spend
months in making some precious vessel, and then dash it to pieces
the moment it was made. Consider that Sevastopol alone; the
millions of money which it must have cost--the stone, the timber,
the iron, all used there--in making a mere robber's den, which might
all have been spent in giving employment and sustenance to whole
provinces of poor starving Russians. Consider those tens of
thousands of men, labouring day and night for months at those deadly
earthworks, whose strong arms might have been all tilling God's
earth, and growing food for the use of man. And then see the waste,
the want, the misery which that one place, Sevastopol, has caused
upon God's earth.

And consider, too, the souls of mortal men, who have been wasted
there--no man knows how many, nor will know till the judgment day.
Two hundred thousand, at the least, they say, wasted about that
accursed place, within the last twelve months. Two hundred thousand
cunning brains, two hundred thousand strong right hands, two hundred
thousand willing hearts: what good might not each of those men have
done if he had been labouring peacefully at home, in his right place
in God's family! What might he not have invented, made, carried
over land and sea? None dead there but might have been of use in
his generation; and doubtless many a one who would have done good
with all his might, who would have been a blessing to those around
him; and now what is left of him on earth but a few bones beneath
the sod? Wasted--utterly wasted! Oh, consider how precious is one
man; consider how much good the weakest and stupidest of us all
might do, if he set himself with his whole soul to do good; consider
that the weakest and stupidest of us, even if he has no care for
good, cannot earn his day's wages without doing some good to the
bodies of his fellow-men; and then judge of the loss to mankind by
this one single siege of one single town; and think how many
stomachs must be the emptier, how many backs the barer, for this one
war; and then see how man wastes God's gifts, and wastes most of all
that most precious gift of all, men, living men, with minds, and
reasons, and immortal souls.

And whence has all this waste come? Simply because these Russian
rulers have chosen to seek first, not God's kingdom, but their own.
Instead of behaving like God's ministers and God's stewards, and
asking, 'How would God our King have us rule His kingdom?' they have
laboured for their own power, conquering all the nations round them,
removing their neighbour's landmark, and wasting the wealth of their
country on armies, and fortresses, and fleets, with which they
intended to conquer more and more of the earth which did not belong
to them. Because, instead of seeking God's righteousness, and
saying to themselves, 'How shall we be righteous, even as our
Heavenly Father is righteous, and how shall we teach this great
people to be righteous likewise?' they have sought their own
pleasure, and lived in profligacy, covetous and cheating almost
beyond belief; and instead of behaving righteously to the people, or
teaching them to be righteous, they have crushed down the people,
stupefied and corrupted them by slavery, and maddened them by
superstitions which are not the righteousness of God, till they have
made them easy tools in their unjust wars, and are able to drive
them, even by force, like sheep to the slaughter, to die miserably
in a cause in which, even if those unhappy slaves conquered, they
would only rivet their own chains more tightly, and put more power
into the hands of the very rulers who are robbing them of their
earnings, dishonouring their daughters, and driving off their sons
to die in a foreign land. Ah, my friends, if these men had but
sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; if the great
wealth, and the wonderful industry and prudence of Russia had been
but spent in doing justly, and loving mercy, what a rich and
honourable country of brave and industrious Christian men might
Russia be; a blessing, and not a curse, to half the earth of God!

Let us pray that she will become so, some day; and we may have hope
for her, for she is but young, and has time yet for repentance.

But some may say--indeed, we are all ready enough to say--'Then the
evil of this war is the Russians' fault, and not ours; and so in
every other case. In every other evil and misery they are rather
other people's fault than ours. If we do our duty well enough, and
if other people would but do theirs, all would be well.'

We are all apt to say this in our hearts. But our Lord does not say
so. His promise is to all mankind: but His promise is to each of
us also. When He says, Seek ye first God's kingdom and
righteousness, He speaks to you and to me, to every soul now here.
Believe it, my friends. The more that I see of life, the more I see
how much of our sorrow is our own fault; how much of our happiness
is in our own hands; and the more I see how little use there is in
finding fault with this government, or that, the more I see how much
use there is in every man's finding fault with himself, and taking
his share of the blame.

I do not doubt that if the whole people of England, for the last
forty years, had sought first God's kingdom and God's righteousness,
and said to themselves in every matter, not merely 'What is
profitable for us to do?' but 'What is _right_ for us to do?' we
should have been spared the expenses and the sorrows of this war:
but as for blaming our government, my friends,--what they are we
are; we choose them, Englishmen like ourselves, and they truly
_represent us_. Not one complaint can we make against them, which
we may not as justly make against ourselves; and if we had been in
their places, we should have done what they did; for the seeds of
the same sins are in us; and we yield, each in his own household and
his own business, to the same temptations as they, to the sins which
so easily beset Englishmen at this present time. I say, frankly, I
see not one charge brought against them in the newspapers which
might not quite as justly be brought against me, and, for aught I
know, against every one of us here; and while we are not faithful
over a few things, what right have we to complain of them for not
having been faithful over many things? Believe, rather (I believe
it), that if we had been in their place, we should have done far
worse than they; and ask yourselves, 'Do _I_ seek first God's
kingdom and God's righteousness; for if I do not, what right have I
to lay the blame of my bad success on other men's not seeking them?'
To each of us, as much as to our government, or to the Russian
empire, is Christ's command; and each of us must take the
consequences, if we break it. Let us look at ourselves, and mend
ourselves, and try whether God's promise will not hold true for us,
each in his station, let the world round us go as it will. Be sure
that God is just, and that every man bears his own burden: that the
righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee, O God!
Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Be sure that those
who trust in Him shall never be confounded, though the earth be
moved, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea, as it is
written, 'Trust in the Lord, and be doing good; dwell in the land,
and work where God has placed thee, and verily thou shalt be fed.'

But have we done so, my friends? have we sought first God's kingdom
and His righteousness? have we not rather forgotten the meaning of
the text, and what God's kingdom is, and what His righteousness is?
Do not most people fancy that God's kingdom only means some pleasant
place to which people are to go after they die? and that seeking
God's righteousness only means having Christ's righteousness imputed
to us (as they call it), without our being righteous and good
ourselves? Do not most of us fancy that this very text means, 'Do
you take care of your souls, and God will take care of your bodies;
do you see after the salvation of your souls, and God will see after
the salvation of your bodies'? a meaning which, in the first place,
is not true, for God will do no such thing; and all the religion in
the world will not prevent a man's having to work for his daily
bread, or pay his debts for him without money; and a meaning which,
in the second place, people themselves do not believe; for religious
professors in general now are just as keen about money as
irreligious ones, and even more so; so that covetousness and
cunning, ambition and greediness to rise in life, seem now-a-days to
go hand in hand with a high religious profession; and those who
fancy themselves the children of light have become just as wise in
their generation as the children of this world whom they despise.

No, my friends, that is not the meaning of the text; and when I ask
you, Have you obeyed the text? I do not ask you that question; but
one which I believe is something far more spiritual and more deep,
something at least which is far more heart-searching, and likely to
prick a man's conscience, perhaps to make him angry with me who ask.

Do you seek first God's kingdom, or your own profit, your own
pleasure, your own reputation? Do you believe that you are in God's
kingdom, that He is your King, and has called you to the station in
which you are to do good and useful work for Him upon this earth of
His? Whatever be your calling, whether you be servant, labourer,
farmer, tradesman, gentleman, maid, wife, or widow, father, son, or
husband, do you ask yourself every day, 'Now what are the laws of
God's kingdom about this station of mine? what is my duty here? how
can I obey God, and His laws here, and do what He requires of me,
and so be a good servant, a good labourer, a good tradesman, a good
master, a good parish officer, a good wife, a good parent, pleasing
to God, useful to my neighbours and to my countrymen?' Or do you
say to yourselves, 'How can I get the greatest quantity of money and
pleasure out of my station, with the least trouble to myself?' My
dearest friends, ask yourselves, each of you, in which of these two
ways do you look at your own station in life?

And do you seek first God's righteousness? There can be no mistake
as to what God's righteousness is; for God's righteousness must be
Christ's righteousness, seeing that He is the express image of His
Father. Now do you ask yourselves, 'How am I to be righteous in my
station, as Christ was in His? how can I do my Heavenly Father's
will, as Christ did? how can I behave like Christ in my station? how
would the Lord Jesus Christ have behaved, if He had been in my
place, when He was on earth?' My friends, that is the question, the
searching question, the question which must convince us all of sin,
and show us so many faults of our own to complain of, that we shall
find no time to throw stones at our neighbours. How would the Lord
Jesus Christ have behaved, if He had been in my place when He was
upon earth?

My dear friends, till we can all of us answer that question somewhat
better than we can now, we have no need to look as far as Russia, or
as our forefathers' mistakes, or our rulers' mistakes, to find out
why this trouble and that trouble come upon us: for we shall find
the reason in our own selfish, greedy, self-willed hearts.

Oh, my friends, let us each search our own lives, and repent, and
amend, and resolve to do our duty, as sons of God, in the station to
which God has called us, by the help of the Spirit of God, which He
has promised freely to those who ask Him. And now, this day, as we
thank God for this great victory, let us thank Him, not with our
lips merely, but with our lives, by living such lives as He loves to
see, such lives as He meant us to live, lives of loyalty to God, and
of usefulness to our brethren, and of industry and prudence in our
calling, and so help forward, each of us, however humble our
station, the glory of God; because we shall each of us, in the
cottage and in the field, in the shop and in the mansion, in this
our little parish, and therefore in the great nation of which it is
a part, help forward the fulfilment of those blessed words, Our
Father which art in heaven; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven; and therefore, also, the fulfilment of the
words which come after them, and not before them; Give us this day
our daily bread.


2 Kings xix. 34. I will defend this city, to save it for mine own

The first lesson for this morning's service is of the grandest in
the whole Old Testament; grander perhaps than all, except the story
of the passage of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law on Sinai.
It follows out the story which you heard in the first lesson for
last Sunday afternoon, of the invasion of Judea by the Assyrians.
You heard then how this great Assyrian conqueror, Sennacherib, after
taking all the fortified towns of Judah, and sweeping the whole
country with fire and sword, sent three of his generals up to the
very walls of Jerusalem, commanding King Hezekiah to surrender at
discretion, and throw himself and his people on Sennacherib's mercy;
how proudly and boastfully he taunted the Jews with their weakness;
how, like the Russian emperor now, he called in religion as the
excuse for his conquests and robberies, saying, as if God's
blessings were on them, 'Am I now come up without the Lord against
this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this
place to destroy it;' while all the time what he really trusted in
(as his own words showed) was what the Russian emperors trust in,
their own strength and the number of their armies.

Jerusalem was thus in utter need and danger; the vast army of the
Assyrians was encamped at Lachish, not more than ten miles off; and
however strong the walls of Jerusalem might be, and however
advantageously it might stand on its high hill, with lofty rocks and
cliffs on three sides of it, yet Hezekiah knew well that no strength
of his could stand more than a few days against Sennacherib's army.
For these Assyrians had brought the art of war to a greater
perfection than any nation of the old world: they lived for war,
and studied, it seems, only how to conquer. And they have left
behind them very remarkable proofs of what sort of men they were, of
which I think it right to tell you all; for they are most
instructive, not merely because they prove the truth of Isaiah's
account, but because they explain it, and help us in many ways to
understand his prophecies. They are a number of sculptures and
paintings, representing Sennacherib, his army, and his different
conquests, which were painted by his command, in his palace; and
having been lately discovered there, among the ruins of Nineveh,
have been brought to England, and are now in the British Museum,
while copies of many of them are in the Crystal Palace. There we
see these terrible Assyrian conquerors defeating their enemies,
torturing and slaughtering their prisoners, swimming rivers, beating
down castles, sweeping on from land to land like a devouring fire,
while over their heads fly fierce spirits who protect and prosper
their cruelties, and eagles who trail in their claws the entrails of
the slain. The very expression of their faces is frightful for its
fierceness; the countenances of a 'bitter and hasty nation,' as the
Prophet calls them, whose feet were swift to shed blood. And as for
the art of war, and their power of taking walled towns like
Jerusalem, you may see them in these pictures battering down and
undermining forts and castles, with instruments so well made and
powerful, that all other nations who came after them, for more than
two thousand years, seem to have been content to copy from them, and
hardly to have improved on the old Assyrian engines.

Such, and so terrible, they came up against Jerusalem: to attempt
to fight them would have been useless madness; and Hezekiah had but
one means of escaping from them, and that was to cast himself and
his people upon the boundless mercy, and faithfulness, and power of

And Hezekiah had his answer by Isaiah the prophet: and more than an
answer. The Lord took the matter into His own hand, and showed
Sennacherib which was the stronger, his soldiers and horses and
engines, or the Lord God; and so that terrible Assyrian army came
utterly to nought, and vanished off the face of the earth.

Now, my friends, has this noble history no lesson in it for us? God
forbid! It has a lesson which ought to come nearer to our hearts
than to the hearts of any nation: for though we or our forefathers
have never been, for nearly three hundred years, in such utter need
and danger as Jerusalem was, yet be sure that we might have been so,
again and again, had it not been for the mercy of the same God who
delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians. It is now three hundred
years ago that the Lord delivered this country from as terrible an
invader as Sennacherib himself; when He three times scattered by
storms the fleets of the King of Spain, which were coming to lay
waste this land with fire and sword: and since then no foreign foe
has set foot on English soil, and we almost alone, of all the
nations of Europe, have been preserved from those horrors of war,
even to speak of which is dreadful! Oh, my friends! we know not
half God's goodness to us!

And if you ask me, why God has so blest and favoured this land, I
can only answer--and I am not ashamed or afraid to answer--I believe
it is on account of the Church of England; it is because God has put
His name here in a peculiar way, as He did among the Jews of old,
and that He is jealous for His Church, and for the special knowledge
of His Gospel and His Law, which He has given us in our Prayer-book
and in our Church Catechism, lighting therein a candle in England
which I believe will never be put out. It is not merely that we are
a Protestant country,--great blessing as that is,--it is, I believe,
that there is something in the Church of England which there is not
in Protestant countries abroad, unless perhaps Sweden: for every
one of them (except Sweden and ourselves) has suffered, from time to
time, invading armies, and the unspeakable horrors of war. In some
of them the light of the Gospel has been quenched utterly, and in
others it lingers like a candle flickering down into the socket. By
horrible persecutions, and murder, and war, and pillage, have those
nations been tormented from time to time; and who are we, that we
should escape? Certainly from no righteousness of our own. Some
may say, It is our great wealth which has made us strong. My
friends, believe it not. Look at Spain, which was once the richest
of all nations; and did her riches preserve her? Has she not
dwindled down into the most miserable and helpless of all nations?
Has not her very wealth vanished from her, because she sold herself
to work all unrighteousness with greediness?

Some may say, It is our freedom which makes us strong. My friends,
believe it not. Freedom is a vast blessing from God, but freedom
alone will preserve no nation. How many free nations have fallen
into every sort of misery, ay, into bitter slavery, in spite of all
their freedom. How many free nations in Europe lie now in bondage,
gnawing their tongues for pain, and weary with waiting for the
deliverance which does not come? No, my friends, freedom is of
little use without something else--and that is loyalty; reverence
for law and obedience to the powers that be, because men believe
those powers to be ordained of God; because men believe that Christ
is their King, and they His ministers and stewards, and that He it
is who appoints all orders and degrees of men in His Holy Church.
True freedom can only live with true loyalty and obedience, such as
our Prayer-book, our Catechism, our Church of England preaches to
us. It is a Church meant for free men, who stand each face to face
with their Heavenly Father: but it is a Church meant also for loyal
men, who look on the law as the ordinance of God, and on their
rulers as the ministers of God; and if our freedom has had anything
to do (as no doubt it has) with our prosperity, I believe that we
owe the greater part of our freedom to the teaching and the general
tone of mind which our Prayer-book has given to us and to our
forefathers for now three hundred years.

Not that we have listened to that teaching, or acted up to it: God
knows, we have been but too like the Jews in Isaiah's time, who had
the Law of God, and yet did every man what was right in his own
eyes; we, like them, have been hypocritical; we, like them, have
neglected the poor, and the widow, and the orphan; we, like them,
have been too apt to pay tithe of mint and anise, and neglect the
weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and judgment. When we
read that awful first chapter of Isaiah, we may well tremble; for
all the charges which he brings against the Jews of his time would
just as well apply to us; but yet we can trust in the Lord, as
Isaiah did, and believe that He will be jealous for His land, and
for His name's sake, and not suffer the nations to say of us, 'Where
is now their God?' We can trust Him, that if He turn His hand on
us, as He did on the Jews of old, and bring us into danger and
trouble, yet it will be in love and mercy, that He may purge away
our dross, and take away all our alloy, and restore our rulers as at
the first, and our counsellors as at the beginning, that we may be
called, 'The city of righteousness, the faithful city.' True, we
must not fancy that we have any righteousness of our own, that we
merit God's favour above other people; our consciences ought to tell
us that cannot be; our Bibles tell us that is an empty boast. Did
we not hear this morning, 'Bring forth fruits meet for repentance:
and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our
father; for God is able of these stones to raise up children to
Abraham.' But we may comfort ourselves with the thought that there
is One standing among us (though we see Him not) who will, ay, and
does, 'baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire, whose fan is in
His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather the
wheat into His garner,' for the use of our children after us, and
the generations yet unborn, while the chaff, all among us which is
empty, and light, and rotten, and useless, He will burn up (thanks
be to His holy name) with fire unquenchable, which neither the
falsehood and folly of man, nor the malice of the Devil, can put
out, but which will purge this land of all its sins.

This is our hope, and this is the cause of our thankfulness. For
who but we should be thankful this day that we are Englishmen,
members of Christ's Church of England, inhabitants of, perhaps, the
only country in Europe which is not now perplexed with fear of
change, while men's hearts fail them for dread, and looking for
those things which are coming on the earth? a country which has
never seen, as all the countries round have seen, a foreign army
trampling down their crops, burning their farms, cutting down their
trees, plundering their towns, destroying in a day the labour of
years, while women are dishonoured, men tortured to make them give
up their money, the able-bodied driven from their homes, ruined and
wanderers, and the sick and aged left to perish of famine and
neglect. My friends, all these things were going on but last year
upon the Danube. They are going on now in Asia: even with all the
mercy and moderation of our soldiers and sailors, we have not been
able to avoid inflicting some of these very miseries upon our own
enemies; and yet here we are, going about our business in peace and
safety in a land in which we and our forefathers have found, now for
many a year, that just laws make a quiet and prosperous people; that
the effect of righteousness is peace, and the fruit of
righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever;--a land in which
the good are not terrified, the industrious hampered, and the greedy
and lawless made eager and restless by expectation of change in
government; but every man can boldly and hopefully work in his
calling, and 'whatsoever his hand finds to do, do it with all his
might,' in fair hope that the money which he earns in his manhood he
will be able to enjoy quietly in his old age, and hand it down
safely to his children, and his children's children;--a land which
for hundreds of years has not felt the unspeakable horrors of war; a
land which even now is safely and peacefully gathering in its
harvest, while so many countries lie wasted with fire and sword.
Oh, my friends, who made us to differ from others, or what have we
that we did not receive? Not to ourselves do we owe our blessings;
hardly even to our wise forefathers: but to God Himself, and the
Spirit of God which was with them, and is with us still, in spite of
all our shortcomings. We owe it to our wise Constitution, to our
wise Church, the principle of which is that God is Judge and Christ
is King, in peace as well as in war, in times of quiet as well as in
times of change; I say, to our wise Constitution and to our wise
Church, which teach us that all power is of God; that all men who
have power, great or small, are His stewards; that all orders and
degrees of men in His Holy Church, from the queen on the throne to
the labourer in the harvest-field, are called by God to their
ministry and vocation, and are responsible to God for their conduct
therein. How then shall we show forth our thankfulness, not only in
our lips, but in our lives? How, but by believing that very
principle, that very truth which He has taught us, and by which
England stands, that we are God's people, and God's servants? He
has indeed showed us what is good, and our fathers before us; and
what does the Lord require of us in return, but to do the good which
He has showed us, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with our God?

Oh, my friends, come frankly and joyfully to the Lord's Table this
day. Confess your sins and shortcomings to Him, and entreat Him to
enable you to live more worthily of your many blessings. Offer to
Him the sacrifice of your praise and thankfulness, imperfect though
it is, and join with angels and archangels in blessing Him for what
He is, and what He has been to you: and then receive your share of
_His_ most perfect sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the bread
and the wine which tell you that you are members of His Church; that
His body gives you whatsoever life and strength your souls have;
that His blood washes out all your sins and shortcomings; that His
Spirit shall be renewed in you day by day, to teach you to do the
good work which He has prepared already for you, and to walk in the
old paths which have led our forefathers, and will lead us too, I
trust, safe through the chances and changes of this mortal life, and
the fall of mighty kingdoms, towards that perfect City of God which
is eternal in the heavens.


Ephesians iv. 17, 18. That ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in
the vanity of their mind, being alienated from the life of God
through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of
their heart.

You heard these words read in the Epistle for to-day. I cannot
expect that you all understood them. It is no shame to you that you
did not. Some of them are long and hard Latin words. Some of them,
though they are plain English enough, are hard to understand because
they have to do with deep matters, which can only be understood by
the help of God's Spirit. And even with the help of God's Spirit we
cannot any of us expect to understand _all_ which they mean: we
cannot expect to be as wise as St. Paul; for we must be as good as
St. Paul before we can be as wise about goodness as he was. I do
not pretend to understand all the text myself: no, not half, nor a
tenth part of what it very likely means. But I do seem to myself to
understand a little about it, by the help and blessing of God; and
what little of it I do understand, I will try to make you understand

For the words in the text belong to you as much as to me, or to St.
Paul himself. What is true for one man, is true for every man.
What is right for one man, is right for every man. What God
promises for one man, He promises to every man. Man or woman, black
or white, rich or poor, scholar or unlearned, there is no respect of
persons with Him. 'In Christ Jesus,' says St. Paul, 'there is
neither male nor female, slave nor freeman, Jew who fancies that
God's promises belong to him alone, or Gentile who knows nothing
about them, clever learned Greek, or stupid ignorant Barbarian.'

It is enough for God that we are all men and women bearing the
flesh, and blood, and human nature which His Son Jesus Christ wore
on earth. If we are baptized, we belong to Him: if we are not
baptized, we ought to be; for we belong to Him just as much. Every
man may be baptized; every man may be regenerate; God calls all to
His grace and adoption and holy baptism, which is the sign and seal
of His adoption; and therefore, what is right for the regenerate
baptized man, is right for the unregenerate unbaptized man; for the
Christian and for the heathen there is but one way, one duty, one
life for both, and that is the life of God, of which St. Paul speaks
in the text.

Now of this life of God I will speak hereafter; but I mention it
now, because it is the thing to which I wish to bring your thoughts
before the end of the sermon.

But first, let us see what St. Paul means, when he talks about the
Gentiles in his day. For that also has to do with us. I said that
every man, Christian or heathen, has the same duty, and is bound to
do the same right; every man, Christian or heathen, if he sins,
breaks his duty in the same way, and does the same wrong. There is
but one righteousness, the life of God; there is but one sin, and
that is being alienated from the life of God. One man may commit
different sorts of sins from another; one may lie, another may
steal: one may be proud, another may be covetous: but all these
different sins come from the same root of sin; they are all flowers
of the same plant. And St. Paul tells us what that one root of sin,
what that same Devil's plant, is, which produces all sin in
Christian or Heathen, in Churchman or Dissenter, in man or woman--
the one disease, from which has come all the sin which ever was done
by man, woman, or child since the world was made.

Now, what is this one disease, to which every man, you and I, are
all liable? Why it is that we are every one of us worse than we
ought to be, worse than we know how to be, and, strangest of all,
worse than we wish and like to be.

Just as far as we are like the heathen of old, we shall be worse
than we know how to be. For we are all ready enough to turn
heathens again, at any moment, my friends; and the best Christian in
this church knows best that what I say is true; that he is beset by
the very same temptations which ruined the old heathens, and that if
he gave way to them a moment they would ruin him likewise. For what
does St. Paul say was the matter with the old heathens?

First he says, 'Their understanding was darkened.' But what part of
it? What was it that they had got dark about and could not
understand? For in some matters they were as clever as we, and
cleverer. What part of their understanding was it which was
darkened? St. Paul tells us in the first chapter of the Epistle to
the Romans. It was their hearts--their reason, as we should say.
It was about God, and the life of God, that they were dark. They
had not been always dark about God, but they were _darkened_; they
grew more and more dark about Him, generation after generation; they
gave themselves up more and more to their corrupt and fallen nature,
and so the children grew worse than their fathers, and their
children again worse than them, till they had lost all notion of
what God was like. For from the very first all heathens have had
some notion of what God is like, and have had a notion also, which
none but God could have given them, that men ought to be like God.
God taught, or if I may so speak, tried to teach, the heathen, from
the very first. If God had not taught them, they would not have
been to blame for knowing nothing of God. For as Job says, 'Can man
by searching find out God?' Surely not; God must teach us about
Himself. Never forget that man cannot find God; God must show
Himself to man of His own free grace and will. God must reveal and
unveil Himself to us, or we shall never even fancy that there is a
God. And God did so to the heathen. Even before the Flood, God's
Spirit strove with man; and after the Flood we read how the Lord,
Jesus Christ the Son of God, revealed Himself in many different ways
to heathens. To Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in Abraham's times; and
again to Abimelech, king of Gerar; and again to Pharaoh and his
servants, in Joseph's time; and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
and to Cyrus, king of Persia; and no doubt to thousands more.
Indeed, no man, heathen or Christian, ever thought a single true
thought, or felt a single right feeling, about God or man, or man's
duty to God and his neighbour, unless God revealed it to him
(whether or not He also revealed _Himself_ to the man and showed him
_who_ it was who was putting the right thought into his mind): for
every right thought and feeling about God, and goodness, and duty,
are the very voice of God Himself, the word of God whereof St. John
speaks, and Moses and the prophets speak, speaking to the heart of
sinful man, to enlighten and to teach him. And therefore, St. Paul
says, the sinful heathen were without excuse, because, he says,
'that which may be known of God is manifest, that is plain, among
them, for God hath showed it to them. For the invisible things of
Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being
understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and
Godhead; so that they are without excuse.' 'But these heathens,' he
says, 'did not like to retain God in their knowledge; and when they
knew God, did not glorify Him as God, and changed the glory of the
Incorruptible God into the likeness of corruptible man, and beasts
and creeping things.' And so they were alienated from the life of
God; that is, they became strangers to God's life; they forgot what
God's life and character was like: or if they even did awake a
moment, and recollect dimly what God was like, they hated that
thought. They hated to think that God was what He was, and shut
their eyes, and stopped their ears as fast as possible.

And what happened to them in the meantime? What was the fruit of
their wilfully forgetting what God's life was? St. Paul tells us
that they fell into the most horrible sins--sins too dreadful and
shameful to be spoken of; and that their common life, even when they
did not run into such fearful evils, was profligate, fierce, and
miserable. And yet St. Paul tells us all the while they knew the
judgment of God, that those who do such things are worthy of death.

Now we know that St. Paul speaks truth, from the writings of
heathens; for God raised up from time to time, even among the
heathen Greeks and Romans, witnesses for Himself, to testify of Him
and of His life, and to testify against the sins of the world, such
men as Socrates and Plato among the Greeks, whose writings St. Paul
knew thoroughly, and whom, I have no doubt, he had in his mind when
he wrote his first chapter of Romans, and told the heathen that they
were without excuse. And among the Romans, also, He raised up, in
the same way, witnesses for Himself, such as Juvenal and Persius,
and others, whom scholars know well. And to these men, heathens
though they were, God certainly did teach a great deal about
Himself, and gave them courage to rebuke the sins of kings and rich
men, even at the danger of their lives; and to some of them he gave
courage even to suffer martyrdom for the message which God had given
them, and which their neighbours hated to hear. And this was the
message which God sent by them to the heathen: that God was good
and righteous, and that therefore His everlasting wrath must be
awaiting sinners. They rebuked their heathen neighbours for those
very same horrible crimes which St. Paul mentions; and then they
said, as St. Paul does, 'How you make your own sins worse by
blasphemies against God! You sin yourselves, and then, to excuse
yourselves, you invent fables and lies about God, and pretend that
God is as wicked as you are, in order to drug your own consciences,
by making God the pattern of your own wickedness.'

These men saw that man ought to be like God; and they saw that God
was righteous and good; and they saw, therefore, that
unrighteousness and sin must end in ruin and everlasting misery. So
much God had taught them, but not much more; but to St. Paul he had
taught more. Those wise and righteous heathen could show their
sinful neighbours that sin was death, and that God was righteous.
But they could not tell them how to rise out of the death of sin,
into God's life of righteousness. They could preach the terrors of
the Law, but they did not know the good news of the Gospel, and
therefore they did not succeed; they did not convert their
neighbours to God. Then came St. Paul and preached to the very same
people, and he did convert them to God; for he had good news for
them, of things which prophets and kings had desired to see, and had
not seen them, and to hear, and had not heard them.

For God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke to the
fathers by the prophets, at last spoke to all men by a Son, His
only-begotten Son, the exact likeness of His Father, the brightness
of His glory, and the express image of His person. He sent Him to
be a man: very man of the substance of His mother, the Blessed
Virgin Mary, at the same time that He was Very God, of the substance
of His Father, begotten before all worlds.

And so God, and the life of God, was manifested in the flesh and
reasonable soul of a man; and from that time there is no doubt what
the life of God is; for the life of God is the life of Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt now what God is like, for God is like Jesus
Christ. No one can now say, 'I cannot see God, how then can you
expect me to be like God?' for He who has seen Jesus Christ, as His
character stands in the Gospels, has seen God the Father. No one
can say now, 'How can a man be like God, and live a life like God's
life?' for if any one of you say that, I can answer him: 'A man can
be like God; you can be like God; for there was once a man on earth,
Jesus, the son of the Blessed Virgin, who was perfectly like God.'
And if you answer, 'But He was like God, because He was God,' I can
say, 'And that is the very reason why you can be like God also.' If
Jesus Christ had been only a man, you could no more become like Him
than you can become clever because another man is clever, or strong
because another man is strong: but because He was God The Son of
God, He can give you, to make you like God, the same Holy Spirit
which made Him like God; for that Holy Spirit proceeds from Him, the
Son, as well as from the Father, and the Father has committed all
power to the Son; and therefore that same Man Christ Jesus has power
to change your heart, and renew it, and shape it to be like Him, and
like His Father, by the power of His Spirit, that you may be like
God as He was like God, and live the life of God which He lived; so
that the Lord Jesus Christ, because He was a man like God, showed
that all men can become like God; and because He was God, Very God
of Very God, He is able to make all who come to Him men like
Himself, men like God, and raise them up body and soul to the
everlasting life of God, that He may be the firstborn among many

Now what is this everlasting life of God, which the Lord Jesus
Christ lived perfectly, and which He can and will make every one of
us live, in proportion as we give up our hearts and wills to Him,
and ask Him to take charge of us, and shape us, and teach us? When
we read that blessed story of Him who was born in a stable, and laid
in a manger, who went about doing good, because God was with Him,
who condescended of His own freewill to be mocked, and scourged, and
spit upon, and crucified, that He might take away the sins of the
whole world, who prayed for His murderers, and blest those who
cursed Him--what sort of life does this life of God, which He lived,
seem to us? Is it not a life of love, joy, peace, long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, patience, meekness? Surely it is; then that
is the likeness of God. God is love. And the Lord Jesus' life was
a life of love--utter, perfect, untiring love. He did His Father's
will perfectly, because He loved men perfectly, and to the death.
He died for those who hated Him, and so He showed forth to man the
name and glory of God; for God is love. The name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is love; for love is justice and
righteousness, as it is written, 'Love worketh no ill to his
neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.' And God
is perfect love, because He is perfect righteousness; and perfect
righteousness, because He is perfect love; for His love and His
justice are not two different things, two different parts of God, as
some say, who fancy that God's justice had to be satisfied in one
way, and His love in another, and talk of God as if His justice
fought against His love, and desired the death of a sinner, and then
His love fought against His justice, and desired to save a sinner.
No wonder that those who hold such doctrines go further still, and
talk as if God the Father desired to destroy mankind, and would have
done it if God the Son had not interposed, and suffered Himself
instead; till they can fancy that they are Christians, and know God,
while they use the hideous words of a certain hymn, which speaks of

'The streaming drops of Jesu's blood
Which calmed the Father's frowning face.'

May God deliver and preserve us and our children from all such
blasphemous fables, which, like the fables of the old heathen,
change the glory of the Incorruptible God into the likeness of a
corruptible man, which deny the true faith, that God has neither
parts nor passions, by talking of His love and His justice as two
different things; which confound His persons by saying that the Son
alone does what the Father and the Holy Spirit do also, while they
divide His substance by making the will of the Son different from
the will of the Father, and deny that such as the Father is, such is
the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost, all three one perfect Love, and
one perfect Justice, because they are all three one God, and God is
love, and love is righteousness.

Believe me, my friends, this is no mere question of words, which
only has to do with scholars in their libraries; it is a question,
the question of life and death for you, and me, and every living
soul in this church,--Do we know what the life of God is? are we
living it? or are we alienated from it, careless about it, disliking

For, as I said at the beginning of my sermon, we are all ready
enough to turn heathens again; and if we grow to forget or dislike
the life of God, we shall be heathen at heart. We may talk about
Him with our lips, we may quarrel and curse each other about
religious differences; but let us make as great a profession as we
may, if we do not love the life of God we shall be heathen at heart,
and we shall, sooner or later, fall into sin. The heathens fell
into sin just in proportion as their hearts were turned away from
the life of God, and so shall we. And how shall we know whether our
hearts are turned away, or whether they are right with God? Thus:
What are the fruits of God's Spirit? what sort of life does the
Spirit of God make man live? For the Spirit of God is God, and
therefore the life of God is the life which God's Spirit makes men
live; and what is that? a life of love and righteousness.

The old heathens did not like such a life, therefore they did not
like to retain God in their knowledge. They knew that man ought to
be like God: and St. Paul says, they ought to have known what God
was like; that He was Love; for St. Paul told them He left not
Himself without witness, in that He sent them rain and fruitful
seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. That was, in
St. Paul's eyes, God's plainest witness of Himself--the sign that
God was Love, making His sun shine on the just and on the unjust,
and good to the unthankful and the evil--in one word, perfect,
because He is perfect Love. But they preferred to be selfish,
covetous, envious, revengeful, delighting to indulge themselves in
filthy pleasures, to oppress and defraud each other. Do you?

For you can, I can, every baptized man can take his choice between
the selfish life of the heathens and the loving life of God: we may
either keep to the old pattern of man, which is corrupt according to
the deceitful lusts; or we may put on the new pattern of man, which
is after God's likeness, and founded upon righteousness and truthful

Every baptized man may choose. For he is not only bound to live the
life of God: every man, as the old heathen philosophers knew, is
bound to live it: but more. The baptized man _can_ live it: that
is the good news of his baptism. _You can_ live the life of God,
for you know what the life of God is--it is the life of Jesus
Christ. _You can_ live the life of God, for the Spirit of God is
with you, to cleanse your soul and life, day by day, till they are
like the soul and life of Christ.

Then you will be, as the apostle says, 'a partaker of a divine
nature.' Then--and it is an awful thing to say--a thing past hope,
past belief, but I must say it--for it is in the Bible, it is the
word of the Blessed Lord Himself, and of His beloved apostle, St.
John: 'If a man love Me, he will keep my commandments, and my
Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode
with him.' 'And this is His commandment,' says St. John, 'That we
should love one another.' 'God is Love, and he who dwelleth in Love
dwelleth in God, and God in him.'

God is Love. As I told you just now, the heathens of old might have
known that, if they had chosen to open their eyes and see. But they
would not see. They were dark, cruel, and unloving, and therefore
they fancied that God was dark, cruel, and unloving also. They did
not love Love, and therefore they did not love God, for God is Love.
And therefore they did not love loving: they did not enjoy loving;
and so they lost the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of Love.
And therefore they did not love each other, but lived in hatred and
suspicion, and selfishness, and darkness. They were but heathen.
But if even they ought to have known that God was Love, how much
more we? For we know of a deed of God's love, such as those poor
heathen never dreamed of. God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son to die for it. Then God showed what His eternal
life was--a life of love: then God showed what our eternal life is--
to know Him who is Love, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent to show
forth His love: then God showed that it is the duty and in the
power of every man to live the life of God, the life of Love; for He
sent forth into the world His Spirit, the Spirit of Love, to fill
with love the heart of every man and woman who sees that Love is the
image of God, and longs to be loving, and therefore longs to be like
God; as it is written, 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
after righteousness, for they shall be filled:' for righteousness is
keeping Christ's commandment, and Christ's commandment is, that we
love one another. And to those who long to do that, God's Spirit
will come to fill them with love; and where the Spirit of God is,
there is also the Father, and there is also the Son; for God's
substance cannot be divided, as the Athanasian creed tells us (and
blessed and cheering words they are); and he who hath the Holy
Spirit of Love with him hath both the Father and the Son; as it is
written: 'If a man love Me, my Father will love him, and we will
come unto him, and make our abode with him.'

And then, if we have God abiding with us, and filling us with His
Eternal Life, what more do we need for life, or death, or eternity,
or eternities of eternities? For we shall live in and with and by
God, who can never die or change, an everlasting life of love,
whereof St. Paul says, that though prophecies shall fail, and
tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away, because all
that we know now is but in part, and all that we see now is through
a glass darkly, yet Love shall never fail, but abide for ever and


Galatians iv. 7. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son;
and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

I say, writes St. Paul, in the epistle which you heard read just
now, 'that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from
a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and
governors, until the time appointed by his father. Even so,' he
says, we, 'when we were children, were in bondage under the elements
of the world: but when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth
His Son made of a woman, made under a law, to redeem them that were
under a law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.'

When we were children. He is not speaking of the Jews only; for
these Galatians to whom he was writing were not Jews at all, any
more than we are. He was speaking to men simply as men. He was
speaking to the Galatians as we have a right to speak to all men.

Nor does he mean merely when we were children in age. The Greek
word which he uses, means infants, people not come to years of
discretion. Indeed, the word which he uses means very often a
simpleton, an ignorant or foolish person; one who does not know who
and what he is, what is his duty, or how to do it.

Now this, he says, was the state of men before Christ came; this is
the state of all men by nature still; the state of all poor
heathens, whether in England or in foreign countries.

They are children--that is, ignorant and unable to take care of
themselves; because they do not know what they are. St. Paul tells
us what they are. That they are all God's offspring, though they
know it not. He likens them to young children, who, though they are
their father's heirs, have no more liberty than slaves have; but are
kept under tutors and masters, till they have arrived at years of
discretion, and are fit to take their places as their father's
_sons_, and to go out into the world, and have the management of
their own affairs, and a share in their father's property, which
they may use for themselves, instead of being merely fed and clothed
by, and kept in subjection to him, whether they will or not. This
is what he means by receiving the adoption of sons. He does not
mean that we are not God's children till we find out that we are
God's children. That is what some people say; but that is the very
exact contrary to what St. Paul used to say. He told the heathen
Athenians that they were God's children. He put them in mind that
one of their own heathen poets had told them so, and had said, 'We
are also God's offspring.' And so in this chapter he says, You were
God's children all along, though you did not know it. You were
God's heirs all along, although you differed nothing from slaves;
for as long as you were in your heathen ignorance and foolishness,
God had to treat you as His slaves, not as His children; and so you
were in bondage under the elements of the world, till the fulness of
time was come.

And, then, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under a law, to
redeem those who were under a law--that is, all mankind. The Jews
were keeping, or pretending to keep, Moses' law, and trying to
please God by that. The heathens were keeping all manner of old
superstitious laws and customs about religion which their
forefathers had handed down to them. But heathens, and indeed Jews
too, at that time, all agreed in one thing. These laws and customs
of theirs about religion all went upon the notion of their being
God's slaves, and not his children. They thought that God did not
love them; that they must buy His favours. They thought religion
meant a plan for making God love them.

Then appeared the love of God in Jesus Christ. As at this very
Christmas time, the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord, in whose
likeness man was made at the beginning, was born into the world, to
redeem us and all mankind. He told them of their Heavenly Father;
He preached to them the good news of the kingdom of God; that God
had not forgotten them, did not hate them, would freely forgive them
all that was past; and why? Because He was their Father, and loved
them, and loved them so that He spared not His only begotten Son,
but freely gave Him for them. And now God looks at us human beings,
not as we are in ourselves, sinful and corrupt, but he looks at us
in the light of Jesus Christ, who has taken our nature upon Him, and
redeemed it, and raised it up again, so that God can look on it now
without disgust, and henceforth no one need be ashamed of being a
man; for to be a man is to be in the likeness of God. Man was
created in the image and likeness of God, and who is the image and
likeness of God but Jesus Christ? Therefore man was created at
first in Jesus Christ, and now, as St. Paul says, he is created anew
in Jesus Christ; and now to be a man is to partake of the same flesh
and blood which the Lord Jesus Christ wore for us, when He was made
very man of the substance of his mother, and that without spot of
sin, to show that man need not be sinful, that man was meant by God
to be holy and pure from sin, and that by the Holy Spirit of Jesus
Christ we, every one of us, can become pure from sin. This is the
blessedness of Christmas-day. That one man, at least, has been born
into the world spotless and free from sin, that He might be the
firstborn of many brethren. This is the good news of Christmas-day.
That now, in Christ's light, and for Christ's sake, our Father looks
on us as His sons, and not His slaves.

Therefore is every child who comes into the world baptized freely
into the name of God. Baptism is a sign and warrant that God loves
that child; that God looks on it as His child, not for itself or its
own sake, but because it belongs to Jesus Christ, who, by becoming a
man, redeemed all mankind, and made them His property and His
brothers. Therefore every child, when it is brought to be baptized,
promises, by its godfathers and godmothers, repentance and faith,
when it comes to years of understanding. It is not God's slave, as
the beasts are. It is God's child. But God does not wish it to
remain merely His child, under tutors and governors, forced to do
what is right outwardly, and whether it likes or not. God wishes
each of us to become His son, His grown-up and reasonable son. To
know who we are;--to work in His kingdom for Him;--to guide and
manage our own wills, and hearts, and lives in obedience to Him;--to
claim and take our share as men of God of the inheritance which He
has given us. And that we can only do by faith in Jesus Christ. We
must trust in Him, our Lord, our King, our Saviour, our Pattern. We
must confess that we are nothing in ourselves, that we owe all to
Him. We must follow in his footsteps, giving up our wills to God's
will, doing not our own works, but the good works which God has
prepared for us to walk in; and then we shall be truly confirmed;
not mere children of God, under tutors, governors, schoolmasters and
lawgivers, but free, reasonable, willing, hearty Christians, perfect
men of God, the sons of God without rebuke.

Oh, my friends, will you claim your share in the Spirit of God, whom
the Lord bought for us with His precious blood, that Spirit who was
given you at your baptism, which may be daily renewed in you, if you
pray for it; who will strengthen and lift you up to lead lives
worthy of your high calling? Or will you, like Esau of old, despise
your birthright, and neglect to pray that God's Spirit may be
renewed in you, and so lose more and more day by day the thought
that God is your Father, and the love of holy and godlike things?
Alas! take care that, like Esau, you hereafter find no room for
repentance, though you seek it carefully with tears! It is a
fearful thing to despise the mercies of the living God; and when you
are called to be His sons, to fall back under the terrors of His
law, in slavish fears and a guilty conscience, and remorse which
cannot repent.

And do not give way to false humility, says St. Paul. Do not say,
'This is too high an honour for us to claim.' Do not say, 'It seems
too conceited and assuming for us miserable sinners to call
ourselves sons of God. We shall please God better, and show
ourselves more reverent to Him, by calling ourselves His slaves, and
crouching and trembling before Him, as if we expected Him to strike
us dead, and making all sorts of painful and tiresome religious
observances, and vain repetitions of prayers, to win His favour;' or
by saying, 'We dare not call ourselves God's children yet; we are
not spiritual enough; but when we have gone through all the
necessary changes of heart, and frames, and feeling, and have been
convinced of sin, and converted, and received the earnest, God's
Spirit, by which we cry, Abba, Father! _then_ we shall have a right
to call ourselves God's children.'

Not so, says St. Paul, all through this very Epistle to the
Galatians. That is not being reverent to God. It is insulting Him.
For it is despising the honour which He has given you, and trying to
get another honour of your own invention, by observances, and
frames, and feelings of your own. Do not say, 'When we have
received the earnest of God's Spirit, by which we can cry, Abba,
Father! _then_ we shall become God's children;' for it is just
because you _are_ God's children already--just because you have been
God's children all along, that God has taught you to call Him
Father. The Lord Jesus Christ told men that God was their Father.
Not merely to the Apostles, but to poor, ignorant, sinful wretches,
publicans and harlots, He spoke of their Father in heaven, who,
because He is a perfect Father, sends His sun to shine on the evil
and the good, and His rain to fall on the just and on the unjust.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught men--all men, not merely saints and
Apostles, but all men, when they prayed--to begin, 'Our Father.' He
told them that that was the manner in which they were to pray, and
therefore no other way of praying can we expect God to hear. No
slavish, terrified, superstitious coaxing and flattering will help
you with God. He has told you to call Him your Father; and if you
speak to Him in any other way, you insult Him, and trample under
foot the riches of His grace.

This is the good news which the Bible preaches. This is the witness
of God's Spirit, proclaiming that we are the sons of God; and, says
St. Paul in another place, 'our spirit witnesses' to that glorious
news as well. We feel, we know--why, we cannot tell, but we feel
and know that we are the sons of God. When we are most calm, most
humble, most free from ill-temper and self-conceit, most busy about
our rightful work, then the feeling comes over us--I have a Father
in heaven. And that feeling gives us a strength, a peace, a sure
trust and hope, which no other thought can give. Yes, we are ready
to say, I may be miserable and unfortunate, but the Great God of
heaven and earth is my Father; and what can happen to me? I may be
borne down with the remembrance of my great sins; I may find it
almost too hard to fight against all my bad habits; but the Great
God who made heaven and earth is my Father, and I am His son. He
will forgive me for the past; He will help me to conquer for the
future. If I do but remember that I am God's son, and claim my
Father's promises, neither the world, nor the devil, nor my own
sinful flesh, can ever prevail against me.

This thought, and the peace which it brings, St. Paul tells us is
none of our own; we did not put it into our own hearts; from God it
comes, that blessed thought, that He is our Father. We could never
have found it out for ourselves. It is the Spirit of the Son of
God, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, which gives us courage to
say, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' which makes us feel that
those words are true, and must be true, and are worth all other
words in the world put together--that God is our Father, and we his
sons. Oh, my friends, believe earnestly this blessed news! the news
of Christmas-day, that you are not God's slaves, but his sons, heirs
of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;--joint-heirs with Christ! In
what? Who can tell? But what an inheritance of glory and bliss
that must be, which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is to inherit with
us--an inheritance such as eye hath not seen, and incorruptible,
undefiled, and that fadeth not away, preserved in heaven for us; an
inheritance of all that is wise, loving, noble, holy, peaceful--all
that can make us happy, all that can make us like God Himself. Oh,
what can we expect, if we neglect so great salvation? What can we
expect, if when the Great God of heaven and earth tells us that we
are His children, we turn away and fall down, become like the
brutes, and the savages, or worse, like the evil spirits who rebel
against God, instead of growing up to become the sons of God,
perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect? May He keep us all
from that great sin! May He awaken each and every one of you to
know the glory and honour which Jesus Christ brought for you when He
was born at Bethlehem--the glory and honour which was proclaimed to
belong to you when you were christened at that font! May He awaken
you to know that you are the sons of God, and to look up to Him with
loving, trustful, obedient souls, saying from your hearts, morning
and night 'Our Father which art in heaven,' and feeling that those
words give you daily strength to conquer your sins, and feel
assurance of hope that your Heavenly Father will help and prosper
you, His family, every time you struggle to obey His commandments,
and follow the example of His perfect and spotless Son, Jesus Christ
the Lord!


Romans viii. 12, 13. Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to
live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:
but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
shall live.

Does it seem strange to you that St. Paul should warn you, that you
are not debtors to your own flesh? It is not strange, when you come
to understand him; certainly not unnecessary: for as in his time,
so now, most people do live as if they were debtors to their own
flesh, as if their great duty, their one duty in life, was to please
their own bodies, and brains, and tempers, and fancies, and
feelings. Poor people have not much time to indulge their brains;
and no time at all, happily for them, to indulge their fancies and
feelings, as rich people do when they grow idle, and dainty, and
luxurious. But still, too many of them live as if they were debtors
to their own flesh; as if their own bodies and their own tempers
were the masters of them, and ought to be their masters. Young men,
for instance, how often they do things in secret of which it is a
shame even to speak, just because it is pleasant. Young women, how
often do they sell themselves and their own modesty, just for the
pleasure of being flattered and courted, and of getting a few fine
clothes. How often do men, just for the pleasure of drink, besot
their souls and bodies, madden their tempers, neglect their
families, make themselves every Saturday night, and often half the
week, too, lower than the beasts which perish. And then, when a
clergyman complains of them, they think him unreasonable; and by so
thinking, show that he is right, and St. Paul right: for if I say
to you, My dear young people (and I do say it), if you give way to
filthy living and filthy talking, and to drunkenness, and to vanity
about fine clothes, you will surely die--do you not say in your
hearts, 'How unreasonable: how hard on us! If we can enjoy
ourselves a little, why should we not? It is our right, and do it
we will; and if it is wrong, it ought not to be wrong.' Why, what
is that but saying, that you ought to do just what your body likes:
that you are debtors to your flesh; and that your flesh, and not
God's law, is your master. So again, when people grow older,
perhaps they are more prudent about bad living, and more careful of
their money: but still they live after the flesh. One man sets his
heart on making money, and cares for nothing but that; breaks God's
law for that, as if that was the thing to which he was a debtor,
bound by some law which he could not avoid to scrape and scrape
money together for ever. Another (and how often we see that) is a
slave to his own pride and temper, which are just as much bred in
his flesh: if he has been injured by any one, if he has taken a
dislike against any one, he cannot forget and forgive: the man may
be upright and kindly on many other points; prudent, too, and sober,
and thoroughly master of himself on most matters; and yet you will
find that when he gets on that one point, he is not master of
himself; for his flesh is master of him: he may be a strong-minded,
shrewd man upon most matters but just that one point: some old
quarrel, or grudge, or suspicion, is, as we say, his weak point:
and if you touch on that, the man's eye will kindle, and his face
redden, and his lip tremble, and he will show that he is not master
of himself: but that he is over-mastered by his fleshly passion, by
the suspiciousness, or revengefulness, or touchiness, which every
dumb animal has as well as he, which is not part of his man's
nature, not part of God's image in him, but which is like the beasts
which perish.

Now, my friends, suppose I said to you, 'If you give way to such
tempers; if you give way to pride, suspicion, sullen spite, settled
dislike of any human being, you will surely die;' should you not,
some of you, be inclined to think me very unreasonable, and to say
in your hearts, 'Have I not a right to be angry? Have I not a right
to give a man as good as he brings?' so confessing that I am right,
after all, and that some of you think that you are debtors to your
flesh, and its tempers, and do not see that you are meant to be
masters, and not slaves, of your tempers and feelings.

Again. Among poor women, as well as among rich ones, as they grow
older, how much gossiping, tale-bearing, slandering, there is, and
that too among people who call themselves religious. Yes, I say
slandering; I put that in too; for I am certain that where the first
two grow, the third is not far off. If gossiping is the root, tale-
bearing and harsh judgment is the stem, and plain lying and
slandering, and bearing false witness against one's neighbour, is
the fruit.

Now I say, because St. Paul says it, 'that those who do such things
shall surely die.' And do not some of you think me unreasonable in
that, and say in your heart, 'What! are we to be tongue-tied? Shall
we not speak our minds?' Be it so, my good women, only remember
this: that as long as you say that, you confess that you are not
masters of your tongues, but your tongues are masters of you, and
that you freely confess you owe service to your tongue, and not to
God. Do not therefore complain of me for saying the very same
thing, namely, that you think you are debtors to your flesh--to the
tongues in your mouths, and must needs do what those same little
unruly members choose, of which St James has said, 'The tongue is a
fire, a world of iniquity, and it sets on fire the whole course of
nature, and is set on fire of hell.' And again: 'If any person
among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but
deceives himself, that person's religion is vain.'

Again:--and, my good women, you must not think me hard on you, for
you know in your hearts that I am not hard on you; but I must speak
a word on a sin which I am afraid is growing in this parish, and in
too many parishes in England; and that is deceiving kind and
charitable persons, in order to get more help from them. God knows
the temptation must be sore to poor people at times. And yet you
will surely find in the long run, that 'honesty is the best policy.'
Deceit is always a losing game. A lie is sure to be found out; as
the Lord Jesus Himself says, 'There is nothing hid which shall not
be made manifest;' and what we do in secret, is sure, unless we
repent and amend it, to be proclaimed on the housetop: and many a
poor soul, in her haste and greediness to get much, ends by getting
nothing at all. And if it were not so;--if you were able to deceive
any human being out of the riches of the world: yet know, that a
man's life does _not_ consist in the abundance of the things which
he possesses. And know that if you will not believe that,--if you
will fancy that your business is to get all you can for your mortal
bodies, by fair means or foul,--if you will fancy that you are thus
debtors to your own flesh, you will surely die: but if you, through
the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.

And by this time some of you are asking, 'Live? Die? What does all
this mean? When we die we shall die, good or bad; and in the
meantime we shall live till we die. And you do not mean to tell us
that we shall shorten our lives by our own tempers, or our tale-
bearing, though we might, perhaps, by drunkenness?'

My friends, if such a question rises in your mind, be sure that it,
too, is a hint that you think yourself a debtor to the flesh--to
live according to the flesh. For tell me, tell yourselves fairly,
is your flesh, your body, the part of yourself which you can see and
handle, _You_?--You know that it is not. When a neighbour's body
dies, you say, perhaps, '_He_ is dead,' but you say it carelessly;
and when one whom you know well, and love, dies,--when a parent, a
wife, a child, dies, you feel very differently about them, even if
you do not speak differently. You feel and know that he, the person
whom you loved and understood, and felt with, and felt for, here on
earth, is not dead at all; you feel (and in proportion as the friend
you have lost was loving, and good, and full of feeling for you, you
feel it all the more strongly) that your friend, or your child, or
the wife of your bosom, is alive still--where you know not, but you
feel they are alive; that they are very near you;--that they are
thinking of you, watching you, caring for you,--perhaps grieving
over you when you go wrong--perhaps rejoicing over you when you go
right,--perhaps helping you, though you cannot see them, in some
wonderful way. You know that only their mortal flesh is dead. That
their mortal flesh was all you put into the grave; but that _they_
themselves, their souls and spirits, which were their very and real
selves, are alive for evermore; and you trust and hope to meet them
when you die;--ay, to meet them body and soul too, at the last day,
the very same persons whom you knew here on earth, though the flesh
which they wore here in this life has crumbled into dust years and
ages before.

Is not this true? Is not this a blessed life-giving thought--I had
almost said the most blessed and life-giving thought man can have--
that those whom we have loved and lost are not dead, but only gone
before; that they live still to God and with God; that only their
flesh has perished, and they themselves are alive for evermore?

Now believe me, my friends, as surely as a man's flesh can die and
be buried, while he himself, his soul, lives for ever, just so a
man's self, his soul, can die, while his flesh lives on upon earth.
You do not think so, but the Bible thinks so. The Bible talks of
men being _dead_ in trespasses and sins, while their flesh and body
is alive and walking this earth. It talks, too, of a worse state,
of men twice dead; of men, who, after God has brought their souls to
life, let those souls of theirs die down again within them, and rot
away, as far as we can see, hopelessly and for ever. And what is it
which kills a man's soul within him on this side the grave, and
makes him dead while he has a name to live? _Sin_, evil-doing, the
disease of the soul, the death of the soul, yea, the death of the
man himself. And what is sin but living according to the flesh, and
not according to the spirit? What is sin but living as the dumb
animals do, as if we were debtors to our own flesh, to fulfil its
lusts, and to please our own appetites, fancies, and tempers,
instead of remembering that we are debtors to God, who made us, and
blesses us all day long;--debtors to our Lord Jesus Christ, who
bought us with His own blood, that we might please Him and obey
Him;--debtors to God's Holy Spirit, who puts into our minds good
desires;--debtors to our baptism vows, in which we were consecrated
to God, that He, and not this flesh of ours, might be our Master for

This is sin; to give way to those selfish and evil tempers, against
which I warned you in the beginning of my sermon, and which, if any
man indulges in them, will surely and steadily, bit by bit, kill
that man's soul within him, and leave the man dead in trespasses and
sins, while his body walks this earth.

My friends, do not fancy these are merely farfetched words out of a
book, made to sound difficult and terrible in order to frighten you.
God forbid! When Scripture says this, it speaks a plain and simple
truth, and one which I know to be a truth from experience. I speak
that which I know, and testify that which I have seen. I have seen
(and what sadder or more fearful sight?) dead men and dying walk
this earth in flesh and blood; men busy enough, shrewd enough upon
some points, priding themselves, perhaps, upon their cleverness and
knowledge of the world, of whom all one could say was, The man is
dead; the man is lost, unless God brings him to life again by His
quickening Spirit: for goodness is dead in him; the powers of his
soul are dead in him; the hope of being a better man is dead in him;
all that God wishes to see him be and do, is dead; God's likeness
and glory in him is dead: he thinks himself wise, and he is a fool
in God's sight; for he sees not God's law, which is the only wisdom:
he thinks himself strong, but he is utterly weak and helpless; for
he is the slave of his own tempers, the slave of his own foul lust,
the slave of his own pride and vanity, the slave of his own
covetousness. Oh, my friends, people are apt to be afraid of what
they call seeing a ghost--that is, a spirit without a body: they
fancy that it would be a very shocking thing to meet one; but as for
me, I know a far more dreadful sight; and that is, a careless and a
hardened sinner--a body without a spirit. Which is uglier and
ghastlier--a spirit without a body, or a body without a spirit? And
yet such one meets, I dare not think how often.

What sadder sight, if you recollect that men need not be thus; that
God hates seeing them thus; that they become thus, and die down in
sin, in spite of God, with all heaven above, and God the Lord
thereof, crying to them, Why wilt thou die? What sadder sight? How
many have I seen, living, to all intents and purposes, as if they
had no souls; as if there were no God, no Law of God, no Right, no
Wrong; caring for nothing, perhaps, but drink and bad women; or
caring for nothing but scraping together a little more money than
their neighbours; or caring for nothing but dress, and vanity, and
gossiping, and tale-bearing; and yet, when one came to know them,
one saw that _that_ was not what God intended them to be; that He
had given them hearts which they had hardened, good feelings which
they had crushed, sound brains which they had left idle, till one
was ready to weep over them, as over something beautiful and noble
ruined and lost; and looked on them as one would on a grand tree
struck by lightning, decayed and dead, useless, and only fit to be
burned, with just enough of its proper shape to show what a tree it
ought to have been. And so it is with men and women: hardly a day
passes but one sees some one of whom one says, with a sigh, 'What a
worthy, loveable, useful person, that might have been! what a
blessing to himself and all around him! and now, by following his
fallen nature, and indulging it, he is neither worthy, nor loveable,
nor useful; neither a blessing to himself nor to any human being:
he might have been good for so much, and now he is good for nothing;
for the spirit, the immortal soul which God gave him, is dead within

My friends, I would not say this, unless I could say more. I would
not say sad words, if I could not follow them up by joyful and
hopeful ones. It is written, 'If ye live after the flesh, ye shall
die;' but it is written also, 'If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify
the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' It is promised--promised, my
friends, 'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give thee light.'

Through the Spirit, through God's Spirit, every soul here can live,
now and for ever. Through God's Spirit, Christ not only can, but
will, give you light. And that Spirit is near you, with you. Your
baptism is the blessed sign, the everlasting pledge, that God's
Spirit is with you. Oh, believe that, and take heart. I will not
say, you do not know how much good there is in you; for in us dwells
no good thing, and every good thought and feeling comes only from
the Spirit of God: but I will say boldly to every one of you, you
do not know how much good there may be in you, if you will listen to
those good thoughts of God's Spirit; you do not know how wise, how
right, how strong, how happy, how useful, you may become; you do not
know what a blessing each of you may become to yourselves, and to
all around you. Only make up your mind to live by God's law; only
make up your mind, in all things, small and great, to go God's way,
and not your own. Only make up your mind to listen, not to your own
flesh, temper, and brain, which say this and that is pleasant, but
to listen to God's Spirit, which says this is right, and that is
wrong: this is your duty, do it. Search out your own besetting
sins; and if you cannot find them out for yourself, ask God to show
you them; ask Him to give you truth in the inward parts, and make
you to understand wisdom in the secret places of your heart. Pray
God's Spirit to quicken your soul, and bring it to life, that it may
see and love what is good, and see and hate what is wrong; and
instead of being most hard on your neighbour's sin, to which you are
not tempted, be most hard on your own sin, on the sin to which you
are most tempted, whatsoever that may be. You have your besetting
sin, doubt it not; every one has. I know that I have. I know that
I have inclinations, tempers, longings, to which if I gave way, my
soul would rot and die within me, and make me a curse to myself, and
you, and every one I came near; and all I can do is to pray God's
Spirit to help me to fight those besetting sins of mine, and crush
them, and stamp them down, whenever they rise and try to master me,
and make me live after the flesh. It is a hard fight; and may God
forgive me, for I fight it ill enough: but it is my only hope for
my soul's life, my only hope of remaining a man worth being called a
man, or doing my duty at all by myself and you, and all mankind.
And it is your only hope, too. Pray for God's Spirit, God's
strength, God's life, to give your souls life, day by day, that you
may fight against your sins, whatsoever they are, lest they kill
your souls, long before disease and old age kill your bodies. Make
up your minds to it. Make up your minds to mortify the deeds of the
body; to say to your own bodies, tempers, longings, fancies, 'I will
not go your way: you shall go God's way. I am not your debtor; I
owe you nothing; I am God's debtor, and owe Him everything, and I
will pay Him honestly with the service of my body, soul, and spirit.
I will do my duty, and you, my flesh, must and shall do it also,
whether it is pleasant at first, or not:' and be sure it will be
pleasant at last, if not at first. Keep God always before your
eyes. Ask yourself in every action, 'What is right, what is my
duty, what would God have me do?' And so far from finding it
unpleasant, you will find that you are saving yourself a thousand
troubles, and sorrows, and petty anxieties which now torment you;
you will find that in God's presence is life, the only life worth
having, and that at His right hand are pleasures for evermore. Oh,
be sure, my friends, that in real happiness you will not lose, but
gain without end. If to have a clear conscience, and a quiet mind;
if to be free from anxiety and discontent, free from fear and shame;
if to be loved, respected, looked up to, by all whose good word is
worth having, and to know that God approves of you, that all day
long God is with you, and you with God, that His loving and mighty
arms are under you, that He has promised to keep you in all your
ways, to prosper all you do, and reward you for ever,--if this be
not happiness, my friends, what is?


Romans x. 11. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him
shall not be ashamed.

My friends, what this text really means is one thing; what we may
choose to think it means is another thing--perhaps a very different
thing. I will try and show you what I believe it really means.

'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.' It seems as if
St. Paul thought, that not being ashamed had to do with salvation,
and being saved; ay, that they were almost the same thing: for he
says just before, if thou doest so and so, thou shalt be saved; for
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation; _for_ the Scripture saith,
'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed;' as if being
ashamed was the very thing from which we were to be saved. And
certainly that wise and great man, whoever he was (some say he was
St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in Italy), who wrote the Te Deum,
thought the same; for how does he end the Te Deum? 'O Lord, in Thee
have I trusted: let me never be confounded,' that is, brought to
shame. You see, after he has spoken of God, and the everlasting
glory of God, of Cherubim and Seraphim, that is, all the powers of
the earth and the powers of the heavens, of Apostles, Prophets,
Martyrs, the Holy Church, all praising God, and crying 'Holy, holy,
holy. Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of the majesty
of Thy glory;' after he has spoken of the mystery of the Trinity,
Father and Son and Holy Ghost, of Christ's redemption and
incarnation, and ascension and glory; of His judging the world; of
His government, and His lifting up His people for ever; after he has
prayed God to keep them this day without sin, and to let His mercy
lighten upon them; after all this, at the end of this glorious hymn,
all that he has to say is, 'O Lord, in Thee have I trusted: let me
never be confounded.'--All he has to say: but that is a great deal:
he does not say that merely because he wants to say something more,
and has nothing else to say. Not so. In all great hymns and
writings like this, the end is almost sure to be the strongest part
of all, to have the very pith and marrow of the whole matter in it,
as I believe this end of the Te Deum has; and I believe that whoever
wrote it thought that being confounded, and brought to shame, was
just the most horrible and wretched thing which could happen to him,
or any man, and the thing above all others from which he was most
bound to pray God to save him and every human being.

Now, how is this? First, let us look at what coming to shame is;
and next, how believing in Christ will save us from it.

Now, every man and woman of us here, who has one spark of good
feeling in them, will surely agree, that coming to shame is
dreadful; and that there is no pain or torment on earth like the
pain of being ashamed of oneself: nothing so painful. And I will
prove it to you. You call a man a brave man, if he is afraid of
nothing: but there is one thing the very bravest man is afraid of,
and that is of disgrace, of coming to shame. Ay, my friends, so
terrible is the torment of shame, that you may see brave men,--men
who would face death in battle, men who would have a limb cut off
without a groan, you may see such, in spite of all their courage,
gnash their teeth, and writhe in agony, and weep bitter tears,
simply because they are ashamed of themselves, so terrible and
unbearable is the torment of shame. It may drive a man to do good
or evil: it may drive him to do good; as when, rather than come to
shame, and be disgraced, soldiers will face death in battle
willingly and cheerfully, and do deeds of daring beyond belief: or
it may drive him to do evil; rather than come to shame, men have
killed themselves, choosing, unhappy and mistaken men, rather to
face the torment of hell than the torment of disgrace. They are
mistaken enough, God knows. But shame, like all powerful things,
will work for harm as well as for good; and just as a wholesome and
godly shame may be the beginning of a man's repentance and
righteousness, so may an unwholesome and ungodly shame be the cause
of his despair and ruin. But judge for yourselves; think over your
past lives. Were you ever once--were it but for five minutes--
utterly ashamed of yourself? If you were, did you ever feel any
torment like _that_? In all other misery and torment one feels
hope; one says, 'Still life is worth having, and when the sorrow
wears away I shall be cheerful and enjoy myself again:' but when one
has come to shame, when one is not only disgraced in the eyes of
other people, but disgraced (which is a thousand times worse) in
one's own eyes; when one feels that people have real reason to
despise one, then one feels for the time as if life was _not_ worth
having; as if one did not care whether one died or not, or what
became of one: and yet as if dying would do one no good, change of
place would do one no good, time's running on would do one no good;
as if what was done could not be undone, and the shame would be with
one still, and torment one still, wherever one was, and if one was
to live a million years: ay, that it would be everlasting: one
feels, in a word, that real shame and deserved disgrace is verily
and indeed an everlasting torment. And it is this, and the feeling
of this, which explains why poor wretches will kill themselves, as
Judas Iscariot did, and rush into hell itself, under the horror and
pain of shame and disgrace. They feel a hell within them so hot,
that they actually fancy that they can be no worse off beyond the
grave than they are on this side of it. They are mistaken: but
that is the reason; the misery of disgrace is so intolerable, that
they are willing, like that wretched Judas, to try any mad and
desperate chance to escape it.

So much for shame's being a dreadful and horrible thing. But again,
it is a spiritual thing: it grows and works not in our fleshly
bodies, but in our spirits, our consciences, our immortal souls.
You may see this by thinking of people who are not afraid of shame.
You do not respect them, or think them the better for that. Not at
all. If a man is not afraid of shame; if a man, when he is found
out, and exposed, and comes to shame, does not care for it, but
'brazens out his own shame,' as we say, we do not call him brave; we
call him what he is, a base impudent person, lost to all good
feeling. Why, what harder name can we call any man or woman, than
to say that they are 'shameless,' dead to shame? We know that it is
the very sign of their being dead in sin, the very sign of God's
Spirit having left them; that till they are made to feel shame there
is no hope of their mending or repenting, or of any good being put
into them, or coming out of them. So that this feeling of shame is
a spiritual feeling, which has to do with a man's immortal soul,
with his conscience, and the voice of God in his heart.

Now, consider this: that there will surely come to you and me, and
every living soul, a day of judgment; a day in which we shall be
judged. Think honestly of those two words. First, a day, not a
mere time, much less a night. Now, in a day there is light, by
which men can see, and a sun in heaven which shows all things
clearly. In that day, that brightest and clearest of all days, we
shall see what we really have been, and what we really have done;
and for aught we know, every one round us, every one with whom we
have ever had to do, will see it also. The secrets of all our
hearts will be disclosed; and we shall stand before heaven and earth
simply for what we are, and neither more nor less. That is a
fearful thought! Shall we come to shame in that day? And it will
be a day of judgment: in it we shall be judged. I do not mean
merely condemned, for we may be acquitted: or punished, for we may
be rewarded; those things come after being judged. First, let us
think of what being judged is. A judge's business is to decide on
what we have done, or whether we have broken the law or not; to hear
witnesses for us and against us, to sum up the evidence, and set
forth the evidence for us and the evidence against us. And our
judge will be the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is sharper
than a two-edged sword, piercing through the very joints and marrow,
and discerning the secret intents of the heart; neither is anything
hid from Him, for all things are naked and open in the sight of Him
with whom we have to do. With whom we _have_ to do, mind: not
merely with whom we _shall_ have to do; for He sees all _now_, He
knows all now. Ever since we were born, there has not been a
thought in our heart but He has known it altogether. And He is
utterly just--no respecter of persons; like His own wisdom, without
partiality and without hypocrisy. O Lord! who shall stand in that
day? O Lord! if thou be extreme to mark what is done amiss, who
shall abide it? O Lord! in thee have I trusted: let me never be

For this is being confounded; this is shame itself. This is the
intolerable, horrible, hellish shame and torment, wherein is weeping
and gnashing of teeth; this is the everlasting shame and contempt to
which, as Daniel prophesied, too many should awake in that day--to
be found guilty in that day before God and Christ, before our
neighbours and our relations, and worst of all, before ourselves.
Worst of all, I say, before ourselves. It would be dreadful enough
to have all the bad things we ever did or thought told openly
against us to all our neighbours and friends, and to see them turn
away from us;--dreadful to find out at last (what we forget all day
long) that God knows them already; but more dreadful to know them
all ourselves, and see our sins in all their shamefulness, in the
light of God, as God Himself sees them;--more dreadful still to see
the loving God and the loving Christ turn away from us;--but most
dreadful of all to turn away from ourselves; to be utterly
discontented with ourselves; ashamed of ourselves; to see that all
our misery is our own fault, that we have been our own enemies; to
despise ourselves, and hate ourselves for ever; to try for ever to
get rid of ourselves, and escape from ourselves as from some ugly
and foul place in which we were ashamed to be seen for a moment:
and yet not to be able to get rid of ourselves. Yes, that will be
the true misery of a lost soul, to be ashamed of itself, and hate
itself. Who shall deliver a man from the body of that death?

I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I thank God, that at
least now, here, in this life, we can be delivered. There is but
one hope for us all; one way for us all, not to come to utter shame.
And this is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, 'Though your
sins be red as scarlet they shall be white as wool; and their sins
and their iniquities will I remember no more.' One hope, to cast
ourselves utterly on His boundless love and mercy, and cry to Him,
'Blot these sins of mine out of Thy book, by Thy most precious
blood, which is a full atonement for the sins of the whole world;
and blot them out of my heart by Thy Holy Spirit, that I may hate
them and renounce them, and flee from them, and give them up, and be
Thy servant, and do Thy work, and have Thy righteousness, and do
righteous things like Thee.' And then, my friends, how or why we
cannot understand; but it is God's own promise, who cannot lie, that
He will really and actually forgive these sins of ours, and blot
them out as if we had never done them, and give us clean hearts and
right spirits, to live new lives, right lives, lives like His own
life; so that our past sinful lives shall be behind us like a dream,
and we shall find them forgotten and forgiven in the day of


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