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abide it. In all practical matters, in the domain of politics, in the conduct and critical turning-points of life, there are things which cannot be open questions. No one has a right to expect that to those who believe at all in the Kingdom of God it should be, however questioned, to them an open question. They cannot look at it simply as a matter for argument. Their whole being must be revolutionised for them to contemplate steadily the possibility of the Kingdom of God turning out a mistake or an untruth. If we, who believe in it, are wrong, it is little what the consequences will be to ourselves; for our mistake will mean a final and fatal sentence passed on all that we know of human intelligence, and, what is more, on the moral capacities of mankind. But it is not we only who must make the venture.
If, then, you find yourself dealing with the claims of the Kingdom of God, and sitting in judgment upon them, recognise what you are questioning. Recognise that you are judging the greatest spiritual and moral force in the world. And, at least, take care that you know what Christianity is before you judge it. Take it all in, not partially or by suppositions; take it all in, all that such life and reality imply, such living power, living you know not how and reaching you know not whither, but certainly living and working; take it all in, and all that would not be, if all this were not. And if you don't know it and cannot know it, as only it can be known, own to yourself that you don't know it, and be as
modest and careful as all men ought to be about what they don't know. Leave it alone, if you are not prepared to be serious; leave it alone, if you are not prepared for what such inquiry involves, of steadiness, of time, of thoroughness, of sacrifice; leave it alone, if you are not prepared to deal with it as the great and tremendous reality that it is. It is not the love of being right which makes the love of truth; it is this desire to be right, planted in the heart of sincerity, of patience, of purity, of unselfishness, of humility, in a character which shrinks from indolence and negligence, which shrinks from that blinding and deadly enemy of all truth, the habit of insolence and scorn.
But on us, to whom the Kingdom of God is no dream or supposition, but the most solid of certainties, who could not, if we would, shake off the conviction and the consciousness of its existence and power, what a responsibility rests! Christianity, it is said everywhere, is not a thesis, or a system, or a school of thought, but a life answering to great certainties around us and without us. What a responsibility for being as good as our word, in sincerity, in courage, in loyalty to our King! What a note it will be against our generation if it ever shall be said that it was one in which Christians had not the moral fibre to understand and value all that they had in Christianity, and can hope for nowhere elsein which, with all that they knew, with all their experiences, they had not the courage to face the
difficulties of choice, which are the common difficulties of all men-in which they gave it up, with all its powers for righteousness and all its hopes for man, cowering before the ominous aspects and prophecies of the hour. Ours is really no new and strange trial, though it seems so to us: in every age the faith and patience of the saints have had to endure the perpetual contrast between things seen and things not seen. It was this contrast which made St. John write, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” It was this contrast which drew that burst from St. Paul, alone, against the thought and opinion of the world of his time, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." May we not, loaded as we are by God's gifts, “enriched in all utterance, and all knowledge," be weak and poor followers of such great examples! "O Lord, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded."
FAILURES IN LIFE
"For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."PHILIPPIANS ii. 20, 21.
IN these and like passages of the Epistles of St. Paul, written subsequently to his imprisonment, we may trace signs of one of the many trials of the apostle's life; one which we hardly, perhaps, estimate at its real measure. With the utter self-abandonment which was the basis of all that he was and did, with the unceasing pain and buffetings which accompanied the conflicts of his great enterprise, we are familiar. We know how, before the imprisonment, in the Epistles to the Corinthians, he spoke of the death which he died daily. But the imprisonment put an end to this activity, with all its vicissitudes of gain and loss in the warfare which he was waging for his Master. He had been passing from land to land, to extend the Kingdom of God, to gather in and build up the Church of the Gentiles, to suffer, as any one would have to suffer, in so strange and bold an invasion of the world. That course was now arrested: it closed in a prolonged imprisonment at a
distance from the scenes of his work, which lasted, with some interruption, of which we know but little, till his death. That forced inactivity, with all its circumstances of restraint and isolation, which, for the most part, marked the rest of his life, opened to him a new experience of what he was called to. He had to sit still and see what came of all his work, of all his hopes he had to sit still, no longer able to do that which was nearest to his heart, and to which he had given his life: he had to sit still with the sense that the world thought him a defeated man, whose career and whose attempts had been brought by the hand of power to an abrupt stop, and whose efforts his enemies had paralysed for good. We, who find it so hard to look beyond the low horizon of present things, should expect the attendant feelings to be those of depression and deep disappointment. We know that it was not so with St. Paul. We know from his own language of patience and resolution, of assured hope and joy prevailing over trouble, that he met this new trial as he had met his former ones. But moods of feeling come and go, even in the strongest; and we may see, as I said, signs that he was not unmoved, when those round him evidently thought that his work had been in vain, and that all those triumphant announcements of new hopes and new interpretations of old ones, which had stirred so strongly religious minds in Greece and Asia, and had ended in the practical silencing of a Roman prison, were judged and condemned by the event. There