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Peabody, Francis Greenwood / Mornings in the College Chapel Short Addresses to Young Men on Personal Religion
Produced by Al Haines










Mornings in the College Chapel



SHORT ADDRESSES TO YOUNG MEN ON
PERSONAL RELIGION BY FRANCIS GREENWOOD
PEABODY, PLUMMER PROFESSOR OF
CHRISTIAN MORALS IN HARVARD
UNIVERSITY



BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY

The Riverside Press, Cambridge




Copyright, 1896,

By FRANCIS G. PEABODY.

_All rights reserved._




TO

MY BELOVED AND REVERED COLLEAGUES

THE PREACHERS TO THE UNIVERSITY

AND TO THE SACRED MEMORY OF

PHILLIPS BROOKS

OF THE FIRST STAFF OF PREACHERS

WHO BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH AMONG US

IN GRATEFUL RECOLLECTION OF

HAPPY ASSOCIATION IN THE SERVICE OF

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH




{v}

_In the conduct of morning prayers at Harvard University, the Preachers
to the University usually say a few plain words to interpret or enforce
the Bible lesson which has been read. The entire service is but
fifteen minutes long, so that this little address must occupy not more
than two or three minutes, and can at the best indicate only a single
wholesome thought with which a young man may begin his day. It has
been suggested to me that some of these informal and brief addresses,
if printed, may continue to be of interest to those who heard them, or
may perhaps be of use to other young people in like conditions of life;
and I have therefore tried to recall some of these mornings in the
College Chapel._

_It is now ten years since it was determined that religion in our
University should be regarded no longer as a part of College
discipline, but as a natural and rational opportunity offering itself
to the life of youth. It was a momentous transition, undertaken with
the profoundest sense of its seriousness and significance. It was an
act of faith,--of faith in religion and of faith in young men. The
University announced the belief that religion, rationally presented,
will always have for healthy-minded young men a commanding interest.
This faith has been abundantly justified. There has become familiar
among us, through the devotion of successive staffs of Preachers, a
clearer sense of the simplicity and reality of religion, which, for
many young men, has enriched the meaning of University life. No one
who has had the slightest part in administering such a work can sum up
its present issues without feeling on the one hand a deep sense of
personal insufficiency, and on the other hand a large and solemn hope._

_I have indicated such sources of suggestion for these addresses as I
noted at the time of their delivery, but it may well be that some such
indebtedness remains, against my will, unacknowledged._

CAMBRIDGE, October, 1896.




{vii}

CONTENTS

PAGE

I. THE CLOUD OF WITNESSES . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II. NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, BUT TO MINISTER . . 4
III. THE TRANSMISSION OF POWER . . . . . . . . . . 7
IV. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
V. THE CENTURION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
VI. SPIRITUAL ATHLETICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
VII. THE RHYTHM OF LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
VIII. THAT OTHER DISCIPLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
IX. MORAL TIMIDITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
X. THE HEAVENLY VISION . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
XI. THE BREAD AND WATER OF LIFE . . . . . . . . . 30
XII. THE RECOIL OF JUDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . 32
XIII. THE INCIDENTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
XIV. LEARNING AND LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
XV. FILLING LIFE FULL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
XVI. TAKING ONE'S SHARE OF HARDSHIPS . . . . . . . 44
XVII. CHRISTIAN UNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
XVIII. THE PATIENCE OF FAITH . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
XIX. THE BOND-SERVANT AND THE SON . . . . . . . . . 52
XX. DYING TO LIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
XXI. CARRYING YOUR OWN CROSS . . . . . . . . . . . 56
XXII. THE POOR IN SPIRIT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
XXIII. THE MOURNERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
XXIV. THE MEEK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
XXV. THE HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS . . . . . . . . . 64
XXVI. THE MERCIFUL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
XXVII. THE PURE IN HEART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
XXVIII. THE TWO BAPTISMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

{viii}

XXIX. THE WISE MEN AND THE SHEPHERDS . . . . . . . . 74
XXX. THE SONG OF THE ANGELS . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
XXXI. THE SECRET OF HEARTS REVEALED . . . . . . . . 78
XXXII. THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST . . . . . . . . . . 80
XXXIII. THE EVERLASTING ARMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
XXXIV. THE COMFORT OF THE TRUTH . . . . . . . . . . . 85
XXXV. THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT . . . . . . . . . . . 87
XXXVI. LIFE IS AN ARROW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
XXXVII. THE DECLINE OF ENTHUSIASM . . . . . . . . . . 90
XXXVIII. THE CROWN OF LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
XXXIX. THE HIDDEN MANNA AND THE WHITE STONE . . . . . 96
XL. THE MORNING STAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
XLI. LIVING AS DEAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
XLII. THE OPEN DOOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
XLIII. BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK . . . . 107
XLIV. HE THAT OVERCOMETH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
XLV. THE PRODIGALITY OF PROVIDENCE . . . . . . . . 113
XLVI. THE HARD LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
XLVII. THE THIN LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
XLVIII. THE CROWDED LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
XLIX. THE PATIENCE OF NATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
L. THE DISTRIBUTION OF TALENTS . . . . . . . . . 124
LI. THE LAW OF INCREASING RETURNS . . . . . . . . 127
LII. THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF WEALTH . . . . . . . 129
LIII. THE AVERAGE MAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
LIV. THE OVERCOMING OF INSIGNIFICANCE . . . . . . . 133
LV. CAPACITY EXTIRPATED BY DISUSE . . . . . . . . 136
LVI. THE PARABLE OF THE VACUUM . . . . . . . . . . 138
LVII. CHRISTIANITY AND BUSINESS . . . . . . . . . . 140
LVIII. MAKING FRIENDS OF MAMMON . . . . . . . . . . . 143
LIX. COMING TO ONE'S SELF . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
LX. POPULARITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
LXI. TWO QUESTIONS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY . . . . . . . 151
LXII. AN UNRECORDED DAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
LXIII. THE ANSWER TO PRAYER . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
LXIV. AN IMPOSSIBLE NEUTRALITY . . . . . . . . . . . 159

{ix}

LXV. THE FINISHED LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
LXVI. ATTAINING TO THE RESURRECTION . . . . . . . . 166
LXVII. SIMON OF CYRENE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
LXVIII. POWER AND TEMPTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
LXIX. LOVING WITH THE MIND . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
LXX. AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER? . . . . . . . . . . 176
LXXI. PROFESSIONALISM AND PERSONALITY . . . . . . . 178
LXXII. THE CENTRAL SOLITUDE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
LXXIII. IF THOU KNEWEST THE GIFT OF GOD . . . . . . . 182
LXXIV. THE WEDDING GARMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
LXXV. THE ESCAPE FROM DESPONDENCY . . . . . . . . . 187
LXXVI. THE DIFFICULTIES OF UNBELIEF . . . . . . . . . 189
LXXVII. KNOWING GOD, AND BEING KNOWN OF HIM . . . . . 192
LXXVIII. FREEDOM IN THE TRUTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
LXXIX. THE SOIL AND THE SEED . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
LXXX. THE LORD'S PRAYER: I. . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
LXXXI. THE LORD'S PRAYER: II. OUR FATHER . . . . . . 203
LXXXII. THE LORD'S PRAYER: III. FATHER AND SON . . . . 205
LXXXIII. THE LORD'S PRAYER: IV. HALLOWED BE THY NAME . 207
LXXXIV. THE LORD'S PRAYER: V. THY KINGDOM COME . . . . 209
LXXXV. THE LORD'S PRAYER: VI. THY WILL BE DONE . . . 211
LXXXVI. THE LORD'S PRAYER: VII. DAILY BREAD . . . . . 213
LXXXVII. THE LORD'S PRAYER: VIII. FORGIVENESS . . . . . 215
LXXXVIII. THE LORD'S PRAYER: IX. TEMPTATIONS . . . . . . 217
LXXXIX. SIMPLICITY TOWARD CHRIST . . . . . . . . . . . 219
XC. OPEN OUR EYES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222
XCI. THE WORD MADE FLESH . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224

LIST OF BIBLE PASSAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227




{1}

Mornings in a College Chapel


I

THE CLOUD OF WITNESSES

_Hebrews_ xii. 1.

(FIRST DAY OF COLLEGE TERM)

No one can look for the first time into the faces of a congregation
like this without thinking, first of all, of the great multitude of
other lives whose love and sacrifice are represented here. Almost
every single life which enters our chapel is the focus of interest for
a whole domestic circle, whose prayers and anxieties, whose hopes and
ambitions, are turning toward this place from every region of this
land. Out from behind our congregation stands in the background a
cloud of witnesses in whose presence we meet. There are the fathers,
earning and saving, that the sons may have a {2} better chance than
they; there are the mothers with their prayers and sacrifices; there
are the rich parents, trembling lest wealth may be a snare to their
sons; and the humble homes with their daily deeds of self-denial for
the sake of the boys who come to us here. When we meet in this chapel
we are never alone. We are the centre of a great company of observant
hearts. And then, behind us all, there is the still larger fellowship
of the past, the historic traditions of the university, the men who
have adorned it, the inheritances into which we freely enter, the
witnesses of a long and honorable associated life.

Now this great company of witnesses does two things for us. On the one
hand, it brings responsibility. The apostle says in this passage,
"that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Every work of
the past is incomplete unless the present sustains it. We are
responsible for this rich tradition. We inherit the gift to use or to
mar. But, on the other hand, the cloud of witnesses is what
contributes courage. It sustains you to know that you represent so
much confidence and trust. It is strengthening to enter into this rich
inheritance. You do not have to begin things {3} here. You only have
to keep them moving. It is a great blessing to be taken up thus out of
solitude into the companionship of generous souls. Let us begin the
year soberly but bravely. Surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, let
us lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets us, and
let us run with patience the race that is immediately set before us in
the swiftly passing days of this college year.




{4}

II

"NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, BUT TO MINISTER"

_Mark_ x. 35-45.

The disciples in this passage were looking at their faith to see what
they could get out of it. They wanted to be assured of a prize before
they took a risk. They came to Jesus saying: "We would that Thou
shouldest do for us whatever we ask." But Jesus bids them to consider
rather what they can do for their faith. "Whosoever," He says, "would
be first, is to be the servant for all, for even the Son of man comes
not to be ministered unto, but to minister." I suppose that when a man
faces a new year of college life, his first thought is of what it can
do for him. He has studied the college programme, asking himself:
"What can I get out of this?" and now he looks into the year, with all
its unknown chances, and asks of it: "O unknown year, what happiness
and friendship and instruction may I get from you? Will you not bring
to {5} pass what I desire? I would that thou shouldest do for me
whatever I ask." Then the spirit of Jesus Christ meets him here and
turns his question round: "What are you going to do for the college
during this coming year? Are you going to help us in our morals, in
our intellectual life, in our religion? Are you going to contribute to
the higher life of the university? For what do you come here,--to be
ministered unto, or to minister?"

Of course a man may answer that this is an impossible test; that there
is nothing that he can give to a great place like this, and everything
he can receive. But he little knows how the college from year to year
gets marked for good or evil by a class, or a group within a class, or
sometimes a few persons, as they pass in and out of our gates.
Sometimes a group of young men live for a few years among us and leave
behind them a positively malarial influence; and some times a few quiet
lives, simply and modestly lived among us, actually sweeten and purify
our climate for years together. And so in the quiet of our prayers we
give ourselves, not to be ministered unto, but to minister. {6}
Nowhere in the world is it more true that we are members one of
another, and that the whole vast institutional life is affected by each
slightest individual. Nowhere in this world is there a better chance
to purify the spirit and tone, either of work or of sport, and nowhere
can a man discover more immediately the happiness of being of use. The
recreation and the religion, the study and the play, of our associated
life, are waiting for the dedication of unassuming Christian men to a
life which offers itself, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.




{7}

III

THE TRANSMISSION OF POWER

_John_ xvii. 22.

This was the glory which Jesus Christ claimed for himself--to take the
glory of God and glorify with it the life of man. "The glory that thou
hast given me I have given them." It was not a glory of possession,
but a glory of transmission. It was not his capacity to receive which
glorified him, it was his capacity to give. In most of the great
pictures of the glorified Christ there is a halo of light encircling
and illuminating his face. That is the fictitious glory, the glory of
possession. In a few such paintings the light streams from the
Master's face to illuminate the other figures of the scene. That is
the real glory, the glory of transmission.

And such is the only glory in life. A man looks at learning or power
or refinement or wealth and says: "This is glory; this is success; this
is the pride of life." But there is really nothing glorious about
possession. It may be most inglorious and mean,--as {8} mean when the
possession is brains or power as when it is bonds or wheat. Indeed,
there is rarely much that is glorious or great about so slight or
evanescent a thing as a human life. The glory of it lies in its being
able to say, "The glory that thou hast given me I give to them." The
worth of life is in its transmissive capacity. In the wonderful system
of the telephone with its miracle of intercommunication there is, as
you know, at each instrument that little film of metal which we call
the transmitter, into which the message is delivered, and whose
vibrations are repeated scores of miles away. Each human life is a
transmitter. Take it away from its transmissive purpose, and what a
poor insignificant film a human life may be. But set it where it
belongs, in the great system where it has its part, and that
insignificant film is dignified with a new significance. It is as if
it said to its God: "The message which Thou givest me I give to them,"
and every word of God that is spoken into it is delivered through it to
the lives that are wearily waiting for the message as though it were
far away.




{9}

IV

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

_Matthew_ v. 16.

At the first reading there certainly seems to be something of
self-assertion and self-display about this passage, as if it said: "Let
your light so shine that people may see how much good you do." But, of
course, nothing could be farther than this from the spirit of Jesus.
Indeed, his meaning is the precise opposite of this. For he is
speaking not of a light which is to illuminate you, but of a light
which is to shine from you upon your works; so that they, and not you,
are seen, and the glory is given, not to you, but to God. Such a light
will hide you rather than exhibit you, as when one holds a lantern
before him on some dark road, so that while the bearer of the lantern
is in the darkness, the path before him is thrown into the light. The
passage, then, which seems to suggest a doctrine of self-display, is
really a teaching of self-effacement. Here is a railway-train
thundering along some evening {10} toward a broken bridge, and the
track-walker rushes toward it with his swinging lantern, as though he
had heard the great command, "Let your light shine before men;" and the
train comes to a stop and the passengers stream out and see the peril
that they have just escaped, and give thanks to their Father which is
in heaven. And this is the reward of the plain, unnoticed man as he
trudges home in the dark,--that he has done his duty well that night.
He has not been seen or praised; he has been in the shadow; but he has
been permitted to let his little light shine and save; and he too gives
thanks to his Father in heaven.

Here, again, is a lighthouse-keeper on the coast. The sailor in the
darkness cannot see the keeper, unless indeed the shadow of the keeper
obscures for a moment the light. What the sailor sees is the light;
and he thanks, not the keeper, but the power that put the light on that
dangerous rock. So the light-keeper tends his light in the dark, and a
very lonely and obscure life it is. No one mounts the rock to praise
him. The vessels pass in the night with never a word of cheer. But
the life of the keeper gets its dignity, not {11} because he shines,
but because his light guides other lives; and many a weary captain
greets that twinkling light across the sea, and seeing its good work
gives thanks to his Father which is in heaven.




{12}

V

THE CENTURION

_Matthew_ viii. 5-11.

One of the most interesting things to observe in the New Testament is
the series of persons who just come into sight for a moment through
their relation to the life of Jesus Christ, and are, as it were,
illuminated by that relationship, and then, as they pass out of the
light again, disappear into obscurity. They are like some
western-fronting window on which the slanting sun shines for a moment,
so that we see the reflection miles away. Then, with the same
suddenness, the angle of reflection changes, and the window grows dark
and insignificant once more. This centurion was such a person. Jesus
perhaps never met him before, and we never hear of him again, and yet,
in the single phrase, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in
Israel," Jesus stamps him with a special character and welcomes him
with a peculiar confidence. How is it that there is given to him this
abrupt {13} commendation? Why does Jesus say that he shows more faith
than Israel itself? It was, of course, because of the man's attitude
of mind. He comes to Jesus just as a soldier comes to his superior
officer. He has been disciplined to obedience, and that habit of
obedience to his own superiors is what gives him in his turn authority.
He obeys, and he expects to be obeyed. He is under authority, and so
he has authority over his own troops, and says to one soldier Go, and
to another Come, and they obey. Now Jesus sees in an instant that this
is just what he wants of his disciples. What discipline is to a
soldier, faith is to a Christian. A religious man is a man who is
under authority. He goes to his commander and gets orders for the day.
He does not pretend to know everything about his commander's plans. It
is not for him to arrange the great campaign. It is for him only to
obey in his own place, and to take his own part in the great design.
Perhaps in the little skirmish in which he is involved there may be
defeat, but perhaps that defeat is to count in the victory for the
larger plan. Thus the religious man does not serve on his own account.
He is in the hands of a general, who overlooks {14} the whole field.
And that sense of being under authority is what gives the religious man
authority in his turn. He is not the slave of his circumstances; he is
the master of them. He takes command of his own detachment of life,
because he has received command from the Master of all life. He says
to his passions, Go; and to his virtues, Come; and to his duty, Do
this; and the whole little company of his own ambitions and desires
fall into line behind him, because he is himself a man under authority.
That is a soldier's discipline, and that is a Christian's faith.




{15}

VI

SPIRITUAL ATHLETICS

1 _Timothy_ iv. 8.

There is this great man writing to his young friend, whom he calls "his
own son in the faith," and describing religion as a branch of
athletics. Bodily exercise, he says, profiteth somewhat. It is as if
an old man were writing to a young man today, and should begin by
saying: "Do not neglect your bodily health; take exercise daily; go to
the gymnasium." But spiritual exercise, this writer goes on, has this
superior quality, that it is good for both worlds, both for that which
now is, and that which is to come. Therefore, "exercise unto
godliness." "Take up those forms of spiritual athletics which develop
and discipline the soul. Keep your soul in training. Be sure that you
are in good spiritual condition, ready for the strain and effort which
life is sure to demand." We are often told in our day that the
athletic ideal is developed to excess, but the teaching of this passage
is just the opposite of {16} the modern warning. Paul tells this young
man that he has not begun to realize the full scope of the athletic
ideal. Is not this the real difficulty now? We have, it is true, come
to appreciate exercise so far as concerns the body, and any
healthy-minded young man to-day is almost ashamed of himself if he has
not a well developed body, the ready servant of an active will. We
have even begun to appreciate the analogy of body and mind, and to
perceive that the exercise and discipline of the mind, like that of the
body, reproduces its power. Much of the study which one does in his
education is done with precisely the same motive with which one pulls
his weights and swings his clubs; not primarily for the love of the
things studied, but for the discipline and intellectual athletics they
promote. And yet it remains true that a great many people fancy that
the soul can be left without exercise; that indeed it is a sort of
invalid, which needs to be sheltered from exposure and kept indoors in
a sort of limp, shut-in condition. There are young men in the college
world who seem to feel that the life of faith is too delicate to be
exposed to the sharp climate of the world of scholarship and {17} have
not begun to think of it as strengthened by exposure and fortified by
resistance.

Now the apostolic doctrine is this: "You do not grow strong in body or
in mind without discipline and exercise. The same athletic demand is
made on your soul." All through the writings of this vigorous,
masculine, robust adviser of young men, you find him taking the
athletic position. Now he is a boxer: "So fight I not as one that
beateth the air." Now he is a runner, looking not to the things that
are behind, but to the things before, and running, not in one sharp
dash, but, with patience, the race set before him. It is just as
athletic a performance, he thinks, to wrestle with the princes of the
darkness of this world, as to wrestle with a champion. It needs just
as rigorous a training to pull against circumstances as to pull against
time. It appears to him at least not unreasonable that the supreme
interest of an immortal soul should have from a man as much attention
and development as a man gives to his legs, or his muscle, or his wind.




{18}

VII

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE

_Matthew_ xiv. 23.

One of the most striking passages in modern literature is the paragraph
in Mr. Spencer's First Principles, in which he describes the rhythm of
motion. Motion, he says, though it seems to be continuous and steady,
is in fact pulsating, undulatory, rhythmic. There is everywhere
intermittent action and rest. The flag blown by the breeze floats out
in undulations; then the branches oscillate; then the trees begin to
sway; everywhere there is action and pause, the rhythm of motion.

The same law holds good of the conduct of life. Its natural method is
rhythmic, intermittent, work alternating with rest, activity and
receptivity succeeding one another, the rhythm of life. The steady
strain, the continuous uniformity of life, is what kills. Work
unrelieved by play, and play unrefreshed by work, grow equally stale
and dull. Activity without reflection loses its grasp; meditation {19}
without action sinks into a dream. Jesus in this passage had been
absorbed in the most active and outward-going ministry; and then, as
the evening comes, he turns away and goes up into the mountain and is
there alone in prayer.

We need to take account of this law of the rhythm of life. Most of the
time we are very much absorbed in busy, outward-looking activity,
overwhelmed with engagements and hurry and worry; and then in the midst
of this active life there stands the chapel with its summons to us to
pause and give the reflective life its chance. That is one of the
chief offices of religion in this preposterously busy age. Religion
gives one at least a chance to stop and let God speak to him. It sends
the multitudes away and takes one up into the solitude of the soul's
communication with God. One of our Cambridge naturalists told me once
of an experiment he had made with a pigeon. The bird had been born in
a cage and had never been free; and one day his owner took him out on
the porch of the house and flung the bird into the air. To the
naturalist's surprise the bird's capacity for flight was perfect.
Round and round he flew {20} as if born in the air; but soon his flight
grew excited, panting, and his circles grew smaller, until at last he
dashed full against his master's breast and fell on the ground. What
did it mean? It meant that, though the bird had inherited the instinct
for flight, he had not inherited the capacity to stop, and if he had
not risked the shock of a sudden halt, he would have panted his little
life out in the air. Is not that a parable of many a modern
life,--completely endowed with the instinct of action, but without the
capacity to stop? Round and round life goes, in its weary circle,
until it is almost dying at full speed. Any shock, even some severe
experience, is a mercy if it checks this whirl. Sometimes God stops
such a soul abruptly by some sharp blow of trouble, and the soul falls
in despair at his feet, and then He bends over it and says: "Be still
my child; be still, and know that I am God!" until by degrees the
despair of trouble is changed into submission and obedience, and the
poor, weary, fluttering life is made strong to fly again.




{21}

VIII

"THAT OTHER DISCIPLE"

_John_ xx. 8.

About fifty years ago, one of the most distinguished of New England
preachers, Horace Bushnell, preached a very famous sermon on the
subject of "Unconscious Influence," taking for his text this verse:
"Then went in also that other disciple." The two disciples had come
together, as the passage says, to the sepulchre, but that other
disciple, though he came first, hesitated to go in, until the impetuous
Peter led the way, and "then went in also that other disciple."

There are always these two ways of exerting an influence on another's
life, the ways of conscious and unconscious influence. A few persons
in a community have the strength of positive leadership. They devise
and guide public opinion, and may be fairly described as personal
influences. But such real leaders are few. Most of us cannot expect
to stand in our community like the centurion of the {22} Gospel and say
to one man: Come, and he cometh; and to another: Go, and he goeth; and
to a third: Do this, and he doeth it. Most of us must take to
ourselves what one of our professors said to a body of students: "Be
sure to lend your influence to any good object; but do not lend your
influence until you have it." On the other hand, however, there is for
all of us an unavoidable kind of influence; the unconscious effect on
another's life, made not by him who preaches, or poses, or undertakes
to be a missionary, but simply by the man who goes his own way, and so
demonstrates that it is the best way for others to follow. That is
what Laurence Oliphant once called, "living the life;" the kind of
conduct which does not drive, but draws.

Peter might have stood before the sepulchre, and tried all in vain to
influence and urge his friend to come in with him, but instead of this
he simply enters, and then, without any conscious persuasion on his
part, that other disciple enters too. So it is that a man to-day just
takes his stand among us in some issue of duty, not dragging in allies
to help him, but quietly standing on his own isolated conviction, and
some day "that other {23} disciple" just comes and stands by him for
the right. Or a man is passing some morning the door of this Chapel,
and just slips in and says his prayer, and falls into the habit of
worship from which he had of late been falling out, and some day as he
sits here, as he supposes, quite out of the circle of his friends, he
turns and finds "that other disciple" sitting by his side. Or a man
enters just a little way into the power of the religious life, just
enough to feel how incomplete is his faith, and how little he can do
for any one else, and one day as he gropes his way toward the light he
feels a hand reaching out to his, and "that other disciple" gives
himself to be guided by the strength which had seemed to its possessor
until that moment weakness. Here is the encouragement and the
interpretation of many an insignificant and apparently ineffective
life. Positive and predetermined influence few of us can boast of
possessing, but this unconscious influence not one of us can escape.
And indeed, that is the profounder leadership even of the greatest
souls. One of the most extraordinary traits in the ministry of Jesus
Christ is his undesigned persuasiveness. He does not seem to expect
{24} a generally accepted influence. He recognizes that there are
whole groups of souls whom he cannot reach. Only they who have ears to
hear, he says, can hear him. He just goes his own great way,
misinterpreted, persecuted; and at last the world perceives that it is
the way to go, and falls into line behind him. When he puts forth his
sheep, he goes before them, and they follow him. It is simply the
contagion of personality, the magnetism of soul, the spiritual law of
attraction, which draws a little soul toward a great soul, as a planet
is drawn in its orbit round the sun.




{25}

IX

MORAL TIMIDITY

_John_ xxi. 22.

The trouble with Peter in this passage is the sense of his own
incapacity. Jesus comes to him with the great command: "Feed my lambs;
feed my sheep;" as though Peter were appointed to take the lead among
his followers. And then Peter shrinks back, not because of
disinclination, but because of sheer self-distrust. Who is he that he
should assume the leadership? He has failed once, perhaps he may fail
again. "Lord," he says, "there is John; is not he the man to lead? He
never made a mistake as I did. What is he to do?" And then Jesus
says: "What is that to thee? The question is not whether you are the
best man to do this thing. You are simply called to do it as best you
can. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Follow thou me."

There is a great deal of this moral timidity in college life. Any man
of reasonable {26} modesty sees about him plenty of men better able to
be leaders in good service than he is. It seems audacious for him to
pose as fit to lead. "There is John," he says, "a far better man than
I; what is he to do?" Then the spirit of Jesus again answers: "What is
that to thee?" Here is the thing to be done, the stand to be taken,
and here are you. Of course, there is much that you cannot do. Of
course there are many that might do it better. But the call happens to
be to you: "Follow thou me." It is not a call to any exciting or
dramatic service. It is simply the demand that one takes his life just
as it is, and gives it as he can to the service of Christ. "Feed my
sheep, feed my lambs;" give yourself to humble and modest service; live
your own life without much anticipation of influence or effectiveness;
with all your insufficiency and frequent stumbling, follow thou me; and
in that simple following you are showing better than by all eloquence
or argument how others ought to go, and you are helping and
strengthening us all.




{27}

X

THE HEAVENLY VISION

_Acts_ xxvi. 19.

The great transformation in St. Paul from a persecutor to an apostle of
Christianity was a sudden revelation. He saw a heavenly vision and was
not disobedient unto it. But this is not the common way of life. It
does not often happen that character is transformed and the great
decision irrevocably made in an instant. It is not as a rule true
that:--

"Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side."

Most lives proceed more evenly, without any such catastrophic change.
And yet, it is none the less true that in a very large proportion of
lives there come, now and then, in the midst of routine and uniformity,
certain flashes of clearer vision, disclosing the aims and ideals of
life, as though one should be traveling in a fog along a hillside, and
now and then the breeze should sweep the mist away, and the road and
its end be clear. {28} Now, loyalty to such a vision is the chief
source of strength and satisfaction in a man's life. Sometimes a young
man comes to an old one for counsel about his calling in life, and the
young man sums up his gifts and capacities and defects. He will be a
lawyer because he has a turn for disputation, or an engineer because he
is good at figures, or a minister because he likes the higher
literature. All such considerations have, of course, their place. But
by no such intellectual analysis is the fundamental question met. Many
men fail in their lives in spite of great gifts, and many men succeed
in spite of great defects. The fundamental question is: "Has this
young man had a vision of what he wants to do? Has a great desire
disclosed itself to his heart? Has the breeze of God blown away the
mists of his confusion and shown him his ideal, very far away perhaps,
yet unmistakable and clear?" Then, with all reasonable allowance for
gifts and faults, the straighter he heads toward that ideal the happier
and the more effective he is likely to be. When he thus follows his
heart, he is working along the line of least resistance; and when his
little work is done, however meagre {29} and unimportant it may be, he
can at least give it back to God, who gave it to him to do, and say: "I
was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision."




{30}

XI

THE BREAD AND WATER OF LIFE

_John_ vi. 35. _Revelation_ xxii. 17

Here, in the Gospel, the message of Christ is described as the bread of
life, and, here, again, in the Book of Revelation, as the water of
life. Bread and water--the very plainest, most essential, every-day
needs, the forms of nourishment of which we rarely think with
gratitude, but which on no day we go without.

A great many people seem to think that religion is a kind of luxury in
life, a Sunday delicacy, an educated taste, an unessential food, which
one can, at his discretion, take or go without. But to Jesus Christ
religion is no such super-imposed accessory; it is simply bread and
water, the daily necessity, the fundamental food, the universally
essential and normal satisfaction of the natural hunger and the human
thirst. Let us, of all things, hold fast to the naturalness,
simplicity, and wholesomeness of the religious life. Religion is not a
luxury added to the normal life; it is the {31} rational attitude of
the soul in its relation to the universe of God. It is not an accident
that the central sacrament of the Christian life is the sacrament of
daily food and drink. This do, says the Master, so oft as ye eat and
drink it, in remembrance of me.

And how elementary are the sources of religious confidence! They lie,
not in remote or difficult regions of authority, or conformity, or
history, but in the witness of daily service, and of commonplace
endeavor. "The word is very nigh thee," says the Old Testament. The
satisfying revelation of God reaches you, not in the exceptional,
occasional, and dramatic incidents of life, but in the bread and water
of life which you eat and drink every day. As one of our most precious
American poets, too early silent, has sung of the routine of life:--

"Forenoon, and afternoon, and night!--Forenoon,
And afternoon, and night!--Forenoon, and--what?
The empty song repeats itself. No more?
Yea, that is Life: make this forenoon sublime,
This afternoon a psalm, this night a prayer,
And Time is conquered, and thy crown is won." [1]



[1] E. R. Sill. Poems, p. 27 "Life." Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1888.




{32}

XII

THE RECOIL OF JUDGMENTS

_Matthew_ vii. 1.

When Jesus says "Judge not that ye be not judged," he cannot be
forbidding all severity of judgment, for no one could be on occasion
more severe, or unsparing, or denunciatory than he. "Woe unto you,
hypocrites," he says to some of the respectable church-leaders of his
time. "Beware of false prophets," he says in this passage, "for they
are inwardly ravening wolves." No, Jesus certainly was not a
soft-spoken person or one likely to plead for gentle judgments so as to
get kindness in return. What he is in fact laying down in this passage
is a much profounder principle,--the principle of the recoil of
judgments. Your judgments of others are in reality the most complete
betrayal of yourself. What you think of them is the key to your own
soul. Your careless utterances are like the boomerang of some clumsy
savage, often missing the mark toward {33} which it is thrown, and
returning to smite the man that threw it.

This is a strange reversal of the common notion in which we think of
our relation to other lives. We fancy that another life is perfectly
interpretable in its motives and aims, but that our own lives are much
disguised; whereas the fact is that nothing is more mysterious and
baffling than the interior purposes of another soul, and nothing is
more self-disclosed and transparent than the nature of a judging life.
One man goes through the world and finds it suspicious, inclined to
wrong-doing, full of capacity for evil, and he judges it with his ready
gossip of depreciation. He may be in all this reporting what is true,
or he may be stating what is untrue; but one truth he is reporting with
entire precision,--the fact that he is himself a suspicious and
ungenerous man; and this disclosure of his own heart, which, if another
hinted at it, he would resent, he is without any disguise making of his
own accord. The cynic looks over the world and finds it hopelessly
bad, but the one obvious fact is not that the world is all bad, but
that the man is a cynic. The snob looks over the world and finds it
hopelessly {34} vulgar, but the fact is not that the world is all
vulgar, but that the man is a snob. The gentleman walks his way
through the world, anticipating just dealing, believing in his
neighbor, expecting responsiveness to honor, considerateness,
high-mindedness, and he is often deceived and finds his confidence
misplaced, and sometimes discovers ruffians where he thought there were
gentlemen; but this at least he has proved,--that he himself is a
gentleman.



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