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His help, our fathers trained themselves to be the guides, the pastors, the comforters, of His flock and people. The task of conquering ourselves, of governing ourselves, may now seem to us, as doubtless it seemed to them in their day, "toilsome and incomplete." "Toilsome and incomplete" it seemed to them at the time, in the doing. But they now look back with other eyes on their efforts after self-discipline, from their place of rest. Let us pray the Holy Spirit of Truth, who helped them, to give us the single eye, the fearless heart, the dread of self-deceit, the love of what is real, the hatred and horror of what is showy and insincere. May He give us grace not to lose heart, to have patience with ourselves— and to draw from the necessity of having patience with ourselves an argument for having patience with our brethren. "What a man cannot amend in himself or in others," says the great master of the honesties of self-discipline, the author of the Imitation of Christ-" he ought patiently to put up with, until God orders otherwise," and he adds-" If thou canst not make thyself that which thou wouldest be, how canst thou expect to have thy brother according to thy wish"-" Si non potes te talem facere qualem vis, quomodo poteris alium ad tuum habere bene placitum ?
THE KINGDOM OF GOD, NOT IN WORD, BUT IN POWER
“The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.".
OF him who wrote these words, these words are plainly true. Of St. Paul it is as certain as anything can be, that this contrast expressed the truth about the business to which his life was given. It was, in the first place, not a name but a thing, not a profession but a conviction, not an opinion to be talked about, but a truth to live and die for. But there is more than this. Beyond the opposition of mere words and professions and names to reality, there is the opposition between things which are, and our theories and speculations about them. And here, again, St. Paul held to his contrast. The Kingdom of God had come into the world of experience, and work, and fact, and was come to take its part there. The Kingdom of God was not a philosophy, not even a divine philosophy, but a living force, to try its strength against the other forces, coarse or subtle, of human life. It was not merely a great idea, but an imperious and self-acting law to each man's life; not
a speculative system of the universe or of morals, co-ordinating causes, accounting for results, but the weight and power of an actual movement, outside of man, which could change and govern wills, and acts, and events. It was not something within the domain of human thinking to shape and deal with, but something apart from all thought about it, with a substantive and independent existence of its own.
There are such things—we know them, and he knew them. The kingdoms of this world, the empire of the Cæsars, the forms and organisation of society in his day, were not in word but in power. You might dispute about them. You might hate, or you might admire and praise them. You might acquiesce in them, or resist them. But, after all said and done, you were but a thinker and talker about them, and they were the things that are. Such to St. Paul was the "Kingdom of God," the "Gospel of Christ," the "Church of God." Nature is not in word but in power. The family is not in word but in power. Morality is not in word but in power. Law is not in word but in power. Take them away, and it is a different world-not a world that we know, not a world which we can well imagine our knowing. True, we are accustomed to them; but beyond custom, nature is, and the family, and morality, and law. And so to St. Paul's life and convictions was the "Kingdom of God." It was the necessary complement to all that was in the world.
Once, he had
known the world without it: henceforth he could no
more know the world without it than a blind man whose eyes were opened could know the world without the light.
Except to the few who knew what St. Paul knew, and thought as he did, it was, at the time, a bold saying; not too bold for what he put his conviction upon, but bold according to the appearances of the time. But, indeed, it was not a whit too bold. The course of events has amply verified his belief. As a fact in the history of the world, the "Kingdom of God" which he preached, has been, if ever anything was, "not in word but in power." And mankind, unbelieving as well as believing, have not ceased wondering at it.
May I, then, invite you to consider for a few minutes this very obvious and commonplace subject, contained in St. Paul's words, that "The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power;" it is not a supposition, but a fact; not a theory, a speculative system, but a reality, which we cannot help and cannot undo, and which we cannot make to be just what we like, in the existing order of things which we know. There is use, sometimes, in bringing ourselves face to face with assumed, and obvious, and accepted things. We are always in danger of straying away, under the temptations and interest of thinking, from plain, rude reality. Our ingenuity builds up, or develops, or destroys, forgetful that what we are operating upon, as we think, so skilfully, goes on its way, not heeding our thoughts about it any more than the suns
which rise and set. You argue triumphantly that a thing is this way, or that way, or that it cannot be, that it is dead; and lo, in spite of all that ought to follow, it lives. Eppur si muove. The things which we least notice, because they are so familiar, so undoubted, are often the things that most need and deserve our attention.
The contrast between the reality of a thing and men's thoughts about it runs through all our life in every department of it. Every one, according to the place which he occupies, is conscious of it. The merchant, the lawyer, the man of science, the engineer, the sailor, all know it well, when they come into contact with what is outside their own world; but the contrast is not limited to merely professional or technical matters. Whenever men touch real things, there is seen and felt the difference in knowledge and mental attitude. Take the way in which we think and speak of a person whom we know by books or report, and then the difference, when we come to know the living man by face, and expression, and voice, and behaviour, in all the unimagined variety of the shades and hues of his character, all the compensations for what we disliked, all the abatements from what we admired, all the changeful play of affections or of mood, all the richness, if the life is a long and active one, of inventiveness, of adaptability, of surprises, all balancings between strong tendencies; and, finally, all this harmonised into a complete whole in a way which might before