Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.Jam 5:1
'I had an hour's baiting from Mrs.—yesterday.
She got upon political preaching—abused it very heartily—acknowledged that religion had to do with man's political life, but said a clergyman's duty is to preach obedience to the powers that be—was rather puzzled when I asked her whether it were legitimate to preach from Jam 5:1, "Go to, now, ye rich men, weep and howl," etc.—asked whether it was possible for old women and orphans to understand such subjects; to which I replied, "No; and if a clergyman refuse to touch on such subjects, which belong to real actual life, the men will leave his church; and, as is the case in the Church of England, he will only have charity orphans, who are compelled to go, and old women to preach to".'
—F. W. Robertson's Life (letter CXIII.).
Reference.—V. 1-6.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 373.
'The wilderness had caressed him,' says Mr. Joseph Conrad of an unscrupulous West African trader, 'and lo! he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own, by the inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation. He was its spoiled and pampered favourite. Ivory? I should think so. Heaps of it, stacks of it You should have heard him say, "My intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my—" everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter, that would shake the fixed stars in their courses. Everything belonged to him—but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made me creepy all over.'
There is a payment which Nature rigorously exacts of men, and also of Nations, and this I think when her wrath is sternest, in the shape of dooming you to possess money. To possess it; to have your bloated vanities fostered into monstrosity by it, your foul passions blown into explosion by it, your heart and perhaps your very stomach ruined with intoxication by it; your poor life and all its manifold activities stunned into frenzy and comatose sleep by it—in one word, as the old Prophet said, your soul for ever lost by it.... Nature, when her scorn of a slave is divinest, and blazes like the blinding lightning against his slavehood, often enough flings him a bag of money, silently saying: 'That! away: thy doom is that'.
—Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets (v.).
D. commenced life after a hard course of study as usher to a knavish fanatic schoolmaster at a salary of eight pounds per annum, with board and lodging. Of this poor stipend he never received above half in all the laborious years he served this man. He tells a pleasant anecdote, that when poverty, staring out at his ragged knees, had sometimes compelled him, against the modesty of his nature, to hint at arrears, Dr.—would take no immediate notice, but after supper, when the school was called together for evensong, he would never fail to introduce some instructive homily against riches, and the corruption of the heart occasioned through the desire of them—ending with 'Lord, keep thy servant, above all things, from the heinous sin of avarice,' etc.... which, to the little auditory, sounded like a doctrine full of Christian prudence and simplicity, but to poor D. was a receipt in full for that quarter's demand at least.
—Charles Lamb, on Oxford in the Vacation.
Often the religious are the weary; and perhaps nowhere else does a perpetual vision of Heaven so disclose itself to the weary as above lonely toiling fields.
—James Lane Allen in The Reign of Law, p. 86.
There is not an imprisoned worker looking out from these Bastilles but appeals, very audibly in Heaven's High Court, against you and me, and every one who is not imprisoned, 'Why am I here?' His appeal is audible in Heaven; and will become audible enough on Earth too, if it remains unheeded here. His appeal is against you, foremost of all; you stand in the front-rank of the accused; you, by the very place you hold, have first of all to answer him and heaven.
—Carlyle, Past and Present (pt. II. ch. 6).
The days are gone by when the Seigneur ruled and profited. 'Le Seigneur,' says the old formula, 'enferme ses manants comme sous porte et gonds, du ciel à la terre. Tout est à lui, foret chenue, oiseau dans l'air, poisson dans l'eau, bete au buisson, l'onde qui coule, la cloche dont le son au loin roule.' Such was his old state of sovereignty, a local god rather than a mere king. And now you may ask yourself where he is, and look round for vestiges of my late lord, and in all the countryside there is no trace of him but his forlorn and fallen mansion.... But on the plain where hot sweat trickles into men's eyes, and the spade goes in deep and comes up slowly, perhaps the peasant may feel a movement of joy at his heart when he thinks that these spacious chimneys are now cold, which have so often blazed and flickered upon gay folk at supper, while he and his hollow-eyed children watched through the night with empty bellies and cold feet.
—R. L. Stevenson, Forest Notes.
Reference.—V. 5.—B. J. Snell, The Widening Vision, p. 129.
History... is rather a record of excessive patience in the various nations of the earth than of excessive petulance.
—John Morley, Compromise, p. 146.
'I do not see at all,' Eugénie de Guérin writes in her Journal, 'how the spirit of revolt and the spirit of Christianity can ever form an alliance. Were there revolts against authority among the first Christians, who suffered oppressions severer than any which Christians have to suffer nowadays? The Theban legion, the Thundering legion—did they draw the sword? Had they not the right to do it, if Poland has now the right? The martyrs do not seem, then, to have read God and Liberty, as M. de Lamennais reads these words. For the martyrs never raised a hand against the enemies of God and Liberty. I have been accustomed to think that the Spirit of Christianity consists in submission to God and to rulers, of whatever kind, and however they treat us; that the only weapon to be opposed to their tyranny is prayer, and then, if necessary, to suffer death unresisting and forgiving the slayer, as Jesus Christ Himself forgave.'
The Divine Husbandman
I. The husbandman waiteth. And see how out of the mouth of two witnesses this word shall be established—how it shall be shown that it is His title Whose Name is above every name. 'Let my Beloved come into His garden and eat His pleasant fruits'—says the spotless Bride in the Canticles: 'she supposing Him to be the gardener'—it is the glorious penitent in the Gospel. So the perfection of holiness and the perfection of penitence join in telling us this one thing: that He whom we serve, though not as we would, Whom we love, though not as we shall, Whom we seek and shall some day find, that He among all His other marvellous titles, is the Husbandman of all husbandmen, the Gardener of all gardeners.
II. And here we have Him waiting—waiting for what? The precious fruit of the earth. It is of no material fruit of this world that He is speaking. Of flowers He is indeed telling; but they are flowers which can only flourish round the true Rose of Sharon in a lovelier climate than this. Fruit He is indeed requiring: but fruit like that which the Tree of Life bears in the midst of the Paradise of God. And yet it springs from earth; it is brought forth by ourselves—vile earth and miserable sinners. Job speaks of this in somewhat a different manner, but yet to the same effect: 'Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone'. That true iron, the courage of the martyrs, and the endurance of the confessors, came from frames subject to like passions with ourselves. Brass, the material of God's Altar, fit for spiritual sacrifice, is molten, in the fire of affliction, out of the stone, the hard stone of these unfeeling hearts of ours.
III. For this precious fruit that dear Lord is content to wait 'And hath long patience for it'. So He had indeed. All the patience of those thirty-three years of humility and suffering—all the patience of the bitter ascent up Mount Calvary, all the patience of the cross, all the patience of those forty hours in the grave.
IV. All the earth is indeed filled with the seed of precious fruit, the sleeping bodies of the servants of the Lamb. In this sense also 'the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. And for these also He who Himself lay in the same earth is waiting: knowing where every particle of that which was once His temple is laid up, watching over it in whatever transformation it undergoes—seeing with that loving eye those His treasures in little quiet country churchyards, in great battle-fields, in the depths of the ocean, and foreknowing, too, the day when 'the bones which He had humbled shall rejoice,' when 'the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing,' when 'the little hills shall rejoice on every side'. The firstfruits of this harvest is now expecting the rest
—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. I. p. 25.
Waiting pure is perhaps the hardest thing for flesh and blood to do well.
—George Macdonald, Donal Grant (ch. XIII).
After all, patience is very strong. Making a mistake at the outset of life is like beginning to wind a skein of silk at the wrong end. It gives us infinite trouble, and perhaps is in a tangle half through, but it often gets smooth and straight before the close. Thus, many a man has so conquered himself, for duty's sake, that the work he originally hated, and therefore did ill, he gets in time to do well, and consequently to like. In the catalogue of success and failure, could such be ever truthfully written, it would be curious to note those who had succeeded in what they had no mind to, and failed in that which they considered their especial vocation. A man's vocation is that to which he is 'called'; only sometimes he mistakes the voice calling. But the voice of duty there is no mistaking, nor its response; in the strong heart, the patient mind, the contented spirit, especially the latter, which, while striving to the utmost against what is not inevitable, when once it is proved to be inevitable, accepts it as such and struggles no more. Still, to do this requires not only human courage, but superhuman faith; the acknowledgment of a Will diviner than ours, to which we must submit, and in the mere act of submission find consolation and reparation.
—Mrs. Craik, Sermons Out of Church, pp. 287, 238.
By the stream through Tolworth Common spotted persicaria is rising thickly, but even this strong-growing plant is backward and checked on the verge of the shrunken stream. The showers that have since fallen have not made up for the lack of the April rains, which in the most literal sense cause the flowers of May and June. Without those early spring rains the wild flowers cannot push their roots and develop their stalks in time for the summer sun. The sunshine and heat finds them unprepared.
—Richard Jefferies, Toilers of the Field, pp. 310, 811.
References.—V. 7, 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 1025. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. v. p. 1. 6. A. Sowter, Sowing and Reaping, p. 62. V. 7-9.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 138.
Dr. Marcus Dods was only twenty-four when he wrote: 'Patience is the great Œdipus that every Sphinx opens up to. The present is not complete without the future, so for the future I wait, and in the present will try to find, not comfort and satisfaction, but work and contentment.'
—Early Letters, p. 96.
Sydney Dobell, in 1855, spoke of 'the second advent of our Lord' as 'the "high argument" on which I hope to spend my life. It has been—almost since poetry first stirred in me—the chosen theme of my hope, preparation, and ambition, but I do not intend to begin—I should think it presumption to begin—till I am past forty years old.'
National enmities have always been fiercest among borderers.
—Macaulay, History of England (ch. XIII.).
References.—V. 10.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 380. V. 10-17.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 190.
Happy ye, whether the waiting be for short time or long time, if only it bring the struggle. One sure reward have ye, though there may be none else—the struggle: the marshalling to the front of rightful forces—will, effort, endurance, devotion; the putting resolutely back of forces wrongful; the hardening of all that is soft within, the softening of all that is hard; until out of the hardening and the softening results the better tempering of the soul's metal, and higher development of those two qualities which are best in man and best in his ideal of his Maker—strength and kindness, power and mercy.
—Jas. Lane Allen, in The Reign of Law, p. 50 f.
Women, in a state of exaltation from excited feelings, imagining, because duty often requires self-sacrifice, that when they are sacrificing themselves they must needs be doing their duty, will often be capable of taking a resolution, when they are not capable of undergoing the consequences with fortitude. For it is one sort of strength that is required for an act of heroism; another, and a much rarer sort, which is available for a life of endurance.
—Sir Henry Taylor, Notes on Life, p. 80.
'We have been too long in the secret ourselves,' says Newton in the preface to Cowper's poems, 'to account the proud, the ambitious, or the voluptuous, happy.' References.—V. 11.—F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Beading, p. 171. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1845.
One thing was notable about these women, from the youngest to the eldest, and with hardly an exception. In spite of their piety, they could twang off an oath with Sir Toby Belch in person. There was nothing so high or so low, in heaven or earth or in the human body, but a woman of this neighbourhood would whip out the name of it, fair and square, by way of conversational adornment My landlady, who was pretty and young, dressed like a lady and avoided patois like a weakness, commonly addressed her child in the language of a drunken bully. And of all the swearers that I ever heard, commend me to an old lady in Gondet, a village of the Loire. I was making a sketch, and her curse was not yet ended when I had finished it and took my departure. It is true she had a right to be angry; for here was her son, a hulking fellow, visibly the worse for drink before the day was well begun. But it was strange to hear her unwearying flow of oaths and obscenities, endless like a river, and now and then rising to a passionate shrillness, in the clear and silent air of the morning. In city slums the thing might have passed unnoticed; but in a country valley and from a plain and honest countrywoman, this beastliness of speech surprised the ear.
—R. L. Stevenson, A Mountain Town in France.
Describing the life of the agricultural girl, in Field-Farming Women, Richard Jefferies observes: 'Her mother shouts at her in a shrill treble perpetually; her father enforces his orders with a harsh oath and slap. The pressure of hard circumstances, the endless battle with poverty, render men and women both callous to each other's feelings and particularly strict to those over whom they possess unlimited authority. But the labourer must not be judged too harshly: there is a scale in these matters; a proportion as in everything else; an oath from him, and even a slap on the ear, is really the counterpart of the frown and emphasised words of a father in a more fortunate class of life; and the children do not feel it, or think it exceptionally cruel, as the children of a rich man would. Undoubtedly, however, it does lessen the bond between child and parent.'
'Above all things, my brethren, swear not.' If, as is generally assumed, this refers to the custom of using profane oaths in common conversation, how remote from modern ideas is the place assigned to this vice, which perhaps affects human happiness as little as any other that can be mentioned, in the scale of criminality, and how curiously characteristic is the fact that the vice to which this supremacy of enormity is attributed continued to be prevalent during the ages when theological influences were most powerful, and has in all good society faded away in simple obedience to a turn of fashion which proscribes it as ungentlemanly!
—Lecky, Map of Life, pp. 51, 52.
Compare further the second chapter of Law's Serious Gall.
While one man quarrels in a drunken brawl, the other will use his strength to overthrow tyrants and consolidate a nation. It was the glory of Garibaldi that while he achieved the latter task, he had used no deceit. Machiavellianism was to him enough to condemn a cause as a miserable one; his yea was yea, and his nay, nay, but was he then blunt and rugged? No.
—Holman Hunt, History of Pre-Raphaelitism, vol. II. p. 245.
Never give way to melancholy; nothing encroaches more; I fight against it vigorously. One great remedy is, to take short views of life. Are you happy now? Are you likely to remain so till this evening? or next week? or next month? or next year? Then why destroy present happiness by distant misery, which may never come at all, and you may never live to see it? For every substantial grief has twenty shadows, and most of them shadows of your own making.
References.—V. 13.—C. S. Horne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. p. 257. V. 14.—J. R. Gregory, Preacher's Magazine, vol. x. p. 23. V. 14, 15.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 135.
The Prayers of Luther At Coburg
During the months when the Diet of Augsburg was sitting in 1530, Luther was left behind by the Elector John the Constant in the fortress of Coburg. His companion, Veit Dietrich, tells us that he spent much of his time in prayer. In a letter to Melanchthon dated 30th June, Veit Dietrich wrote: 'I cannot sufficiently admire the remarkable firmness, cheerfulness, faith and hope of the man in these most bitter times. These he nourishes steadily by more diligent meditation on God's Word. Not a day passes on which he does not devote at least three hours to prayer, and those the hours most suitable for study. Once I happened to hear him praying. Good God, what spirit, what faith there was in his words! He pleaded with such reverence as if he felt himself to be talking with God, with such hope and faith as if he were speaking with a father and a friend. 'I know,' he said, 'that Thou art our God and Father. I am sure, therefore, that Thou wilt destroy the persecutors of Thy children. If not, the danger is Thine as well as ours. The whole of this business is Thine; we have been compelled to meet it; defend us therefore.' I, standing apart, heard him praying with a clear voice in almost these very words. My soul also burned with a strange ardour as he spoke so familiarly, so solemnly, so reverently with God, and as he prayed he pleaded promises from the Psalms like one who was sure that all the things for which he asked would come to pass.'
—Corpus Reformatorum, vol. II. No. 755, col. 159.
Is there not such a thing as the doing of penance out of the Church, in the manly fashion?... Boldly to say we did a wrong will clear our sky for a few shattering peals.
—Meredith, The Amazing Marriage (ch. XLIII.).
Now for the first time she remembered without indifference the affectionate kindness Dinah had shown her, and those words of Dinah in the bedchamber—that Hetty must think of her as a friend in trouble. Suppose she was to go to Dinah and ask her to help her? Dinah did not think about things as other people did: she was a mystery to Hetty, but Hetty knew she was always kind. She couldn't imagine Dinah's face turning away from her in dark reproof or scorn, Dinah's voice willingly speaking ill of her or rejoicing in her misery, as a punishment. Dinah did not seem to belong to that world of Hetty's, whose glance she dreaded like scorching fire. But even to her Hetty shrank from beseeching and confession: she could not prevail on herself to say, 'I will go to Dinah'; she only thought of that as a possible alternative, if she had not courage for death.
—George Eliot, Adam Bede (XXXVII.).
We want some means of availing ourselves of the experience of other people. Of course we can do so to some extent by conversation with experienced persons or by reading good biographies. Yet many people have no friends from whom they can get much real moral help, and are unable to find their experiences exactly like those recorded in books.... How much help some suggestive thoughts of others might at times give to us, whether in the way of encouragement or warning! There seems a field open for spiritual experts who, like skilled physicians, might use their knowledge to recommend to one sick person a remedy that has proved effectual in a similar case. In one of Borrow's books there is a graphic sketch of a man who went half his life in misery because he believed he had committed the unpardonable sin, till it was suggested to him that many other people were probably in the like predicament. Had he opened his mind to an experienced spiritual adviser, he might have obtained relief much earlier.
—Miss Alice Gardner, The Conflict of Duties, p. 226.
The most considerable difference I note among men is not in their readiness to fall into error, but in their readiness to acknowledge their inevitable lapse.
A friend of mine told me that he had been at different times sensible of spiritual blessings bestowed on him through the prayers of particular persons at a distance. He was conscious of a special blessing, and he had a most distinct impression that that blessing came to him through the prayers of a particular person; and on asking the person afterwards, he learned that he had been praying for that very blessing on him. I like such a story exceedingly. I like to think of God... binding souls so close as to make them channels to each other of the water of life.
—Erskine of Linlathen (in a letter to his cousin, 11th March, 1829).
'This, dear madam,' wrote Burns on New Year's Day, 1789, to Mrs. Dunlop, 'is a morning of wishes, and would to God that I came under the Apostle James' description: the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. In that case, madam, you should welcome in a year full of blessings.'
References.—V. 16.—S. Pearson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 140. W. J. E. Bennett, Sermons Preached at the London Mission, 1869, p. 91. H. S. Lunn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 267. V. 16-18.—W. H. Simcox, The Cessation of Prophecy, p. 65.
The Argument of Instances
This gives us the argument and the defence of a great example. Observe who it was that prayed; not a little obscure, uninfluential man, but a great prophet, whose other name was fire, who lived on high mountains and overheard the soft, rolling, thrilling anthems of heaven. There comes before us no man who has to make good his claim, who has to win our confidence by displaying before us some deeds heroic and beneficent; the man with whom we are now face to face is a man of established fame in Israel, indeed one of the very greatest sons of time. As he stands there, austere, determinate, tremendous in energy and in fiery zeal, I hear concerning him that 'Elias prayed'.
I. If Elias prayed, and all these great men prayed, this throws upon us an immense responsibility. We ought to take care how we vote against these men. We should hold our mouths in resolute patience until the whole case has been gone over in the most scrutinising and penetrating manner before we say we will not pray. Can we take the responsibility of defying and despising all that we have learned from history? The prayer would not be altered if only the poorest creatures had prayed, the altar would lose nothing if it had only been surrounded by forsaken women and orphaned children and poor begging creatures that had to pick up their food from door to door, it would still be the altar; in this case, however, it is surrounded by such men as Moses and David and Solomon and Nehemiah and Hezekiah and Elias; all the lion souls of history, the great heroic men that led the civilisation of their age. Are we going to take the responsibility of rebuking our sires and ancestors, and pouring out the expectoration of our irrational contempt upon the whole current and upward movement of the religious thought of the centuries?
II. 'Elias prayed.' This cheers us by the most complete encouragement. The way has been made clear to us, we may speak now that these great voices have spoken; by the utterance of such prayers it seems as if a pathway had been cut in the very air itself along which and above which and in association with which our smallest souls may move. These men came back with great answers; God seemed for the time being to put the key of power upon the girdle of each, and enable each to open the door of heaven and take just what he wanted.
III. 'Elias prayed.' That would be a grand stopping-place, but there is not room enough there for all that the soul requires, so we come into the higher sanctuary, and find that 'Jesus prayed'. He is never so truly near me as when he says, Let us pray. He would not always permit us to be with Him in prayer; the greatest spiritual acts of devotion and sacrifice must be completed in solitude: and Jesus went up into a mountain to pray; and Jesus left the disciples behind Him, and went forward, and fell on His face, and prayed: the cold mountains and the midnight air witnessed the fervour of His prayer.
Jesus prayed a second time; Elias prayed again; there are amended prayers, enlarged prayers, self-corrected prayers, so that we may go back in Gethsemane and say amid all the gathering glooms, Lord, let me recall that last prayer, and let me say in ampler language, language with infinitely more meaning in it, Not my will, but Thine be done. That prayer is always answered; that indeed is the Lord's prayer, the first answer the cross, the second the crown.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vii. p. 79.
What hinders us in comparing former events in the Church with what we now see, is that we are wont to regard St. Athanasius or St. Theresa and others as crowned with glory, and acting in regard to us as gods. Now that time has cleared our vision we see that they are so. But when this great saint was persecuted he was a man called Athanasius, and St Theresa was a nun. 'Elias was a man subject to the same passions as ourselves,' says St. Peter [?], to disabuse Christians of that false notion. But we must reject the examples of the saints as disproportioned to our state. They were saints, say we, they are not like us.
References.—V. 17.—C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 267. R. W. Church, Village Sermons (3rd Series), p. 249.
Prayer and Temperament
This incident belongs to what we call the prescientific age.
These words assume God's power as the hearer of prayer over all the forces of the firmament.
I. Alas! nowadays the message of science is often used to check man's inclination to pray. It is a current axiom that natural law is unalterable. Are we face to face with a group of cast-iron necessities which allow of no mutual subordinations? We know that it is not so. One physical law is sometimes subjected to another, and all bow together to God's interpretation of the moral interests of the universe. God could not so arrange the mechanisms of lifeless matter as to make them involve the negation of man's fellowship with Himself. If prayer cannot be answered God is a force and nothing more, and moral motives are in His esteem trifling as the fine summer dust which settles upon the crank of the engine, without checking its movement.
II. But the moral difficulties that threaten to thwart our prayers are more stupendous and appalling than those suggested by the study of natural law. It is these which St. James has in view in the text before us. He is looking at prayer in its relation to human character rather than as it concerns the established order of the physical universe. Our own antecedent unworthiness to be heard and answered, is the supreme problem that troubles us as we come before God. This inspired writer tells us that the problem is not intractable. It has been solved in the prevailing supplications of men who are compounded of kindred elements. In heartening ourselves by this thought let us not assume that the efficacy of prayer is independent of all moral forces. There must be a core of genuine righteousness within us if our cries are to be heeded.
III. In the fulness of God's grace and compassion all drawbacks of temperament and character have been already reckoned with. It is to a throne of mercy we come, not to a throne about which the unsullied angels of light cluster,—and this means creatures of passion may draw near. Prayer becomes priceless through the name in which it is presented, however poor and mean and ignoble the petitioner himself.
It is characteristic of a good man neither to go wrong himself, nor to let his friend go wrong.
References.—V. 19, 20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 46. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outlines, p. 339. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1137.
To save a soul.' I can't somehow realise the idea that I should ever be so honoured of God. To save my own soul, and wear through the long fight without losing my own crown, and without bringing disgrace on the cause of Christ, these have seemed the limit of my hope. 1 can go on working; I can give a little; I can add my labour to the heap in the hope that among other agencies I may help rather than retard the work of Christ But to 'save a soul,' as the direct result of my own direct effort, has scarce ever entered into my contemplation.
—James Smetham, Letters, p. 112.
-We know how the sentiments of affection and charity suggest repeated attempts to save these erring brothers, and how keenly the tenderhearted feel that, after all hope of better things is gone, the claim on their affections still remains, and they must see that the morally worthless who are near and dear to them at least, shall be maintained in some fitting way. Love dies hard, and even if it be dead in all happier and brighter senses, a brother in distress is still a brother whose pains smart again, and ought to smart in our sympathies. They cannot cease to smart thus without our moral degradation.
—Dr. Sophie Bryant, Studies in Character, p. 38.
When the power of reclaiming the lost dies out of the Church, it ceases to be the Church.
—Sir John Seeley, Ecce Homo (ch. xx.).
'In any one shows me a good man,' said Mazzini, 'I say, How many souls has he saved?'
If any of those who were awakened by my ministry did after that fall back (as sometimes too many did), I can truly say their loss hath been more to me than if one of my own children, begotten of my body, had been going to its grave... I have counted as if I had goodly buildings and lordships in those places where my children were born; my heart hath been so wrapped up in the glory of this excellent work, that I counted myself more blessed and honoured of God by this than if He had made me the Emperor of the Christian World; or the Lord of all the glory of the Earth without it. O these words, He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way doth save a soul from death.... These, I say, with many others of a like nature, have been great refreshment to me.
—Bunyan, Grace Abounding, p. 286.
There are men who think—men—the plucking of sinners out of the mire a dirty business!
The man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established, seeks also to establish others.
—Chinese Analects (VI. 28).
Reference.—V. 20.—J. Keble, Miscellaneous Sermons, p. 156.
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.