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salvation, that faith is not displayed in a lack of faith in His programme for the life of His followers.
Is it not, I repeat, just lack of faith, infidelity, disbelief, that leads us to explain away these words, adopting the easy evasion that they are the hyperbole of poetry, or the exceeding enthusiasm of an idealist? I wish I could believe it, but to my wish, my reason replies that the disciples did not discover this. They laboured under the delusion that Christ meant what He said, and they believed it all not a visionary, but a practical, thing. I read in St. Paul's letter to the Romans,--and I never heard that called poetry,-along with those sober exhortations to hospitality, to diligence in business, to honesty—the commands, to us so strange and unbusinesslike: Prefer ye one another. (Now prefer cannot mean enter into competition with, and undersell if possible.) Bless them that persecute you; if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. Moreover, as I read the story of the early disciples, given in the Book of the Acts of the Blessed Apostles, I learn that the whole Church understood Christ literally in His words about treasures of earth, and accordingly its members resigned all that they had, “neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common." Notwithstanding this unbusinesslike policy, we have it on good authority that “great grace was upon them all, neither was there among them any that lacked," and that they were had in favour of all the people, and that their numbers rapidly increased. Ah! but those were unusual times. Truly were they unusual times! But why may not these also be unusual times ?-unusual and glorious! Is it not still Christ's command: “Arise ! let us go hence,” out of an age of competition and selfishness into a better day of truly Christianized society founded on Love!
I am obliged to reply further that Jesus himself seemed to have mistaken this that we are asked to believe is poetry for downright prose, and that He did not, on the whole, exhibit the symptoms of aberration. He seemed to have perfect confidence in the extraordinary method He recommended.
He practised it, and with results of the most marvellous success. Anyone familiar with the barest outline of the life of Jesus knows that there is not a phase of self-renunciation, of heedlessness of material things, wealth, honour, ease, and pleasure, that He did not typify; His whole life is so opposed to human maxims, His plans are so short-sighted, His methods so foolish, judged by our standards, that we are accustomed to say that His is a story which no novelist or legend-maker could or would have invented. Diplomacy was excluded from his methods. Force, pomp, political artifice, however honestnone of these things would He employ. With truth does Pascal say of the method He used in founding the Kingdom, “ He took the way of perishing, according to human calculations.” A life lived in poverty in the most despised part of an insignificant province,-not in Athens or Rome, where He might have been appreciated; spent in denouncing the nation's great men, whom He might have propitiated and employed for His ends; His companions a dozen fishermen, peasants, a tax-collector and the like, -one of them a bandit,-and a handful of women; His speeches occupied in telling men how hard it would be to follow Him; a life spent like that and ended on a cross, His friends fled, His very name apparently to be forgotten, as have been those of the thieves between whom He hung,—what a mistake, what a pitiable failure, how utterly vain and foolish!
Nay, rather, how divinely wise! The foolishness of God is wiser than men. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? I invite you to turn over in your minds and hearts this reflection: If Christ, when in flesh upon earth, practised the rules of life which He recommended, would not we do well seriously to consider whether they are not also for our practice ?
And if, conceding that Christ meant His words literally and not poetically, they still seem madness, I point not now, as later I shall, to the victories of the Cross, but I ask you to notice how in Christ's thought the extravagant and mad maxims which He uttered and lived by, are grounded in the very processes of the universe, in the very principles according to which God's government of the world is administered. Jesus says, Love your enemies, lend without expectation of return, offer the cheek which has not been smitten, “ in order that ye may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust.” Jesus is simply advising us to act on the plan on which God acts. If it is senseless for Him, then it is for us. To refuse the programme of Jesus is to repudiate the world-order, and flout the wisdom of God's rule, for it is just that that Christ recommends to us. Surely we would not have the divine plan of dealing with men changed, and surely we perceive that its folly is wisdom. Is there anything to compare with the victory of that Love which in singular fashions and in mysterious providences worketh in the world, turning to its account the wrath of man, allowing, and yet always appropriating for its own ends, evil and human disobedience, and in spite of all hindrance and unwillingness, triumphantly realizing its aim ? In a