The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.The Ever-living Christ
They could never do it. To the end their purpose was unchanging in its cruelty, but they could never bring it to consummation. We have forgotten who killed the Son of God. It would be an infinite relief to us if we could charge this wholly upon the Jews, or upon some persons who lived twenty centuries ago. That would be unjust and unwise on our part The one thing that is forgotten is the name of the murderer: his name is Man. The Jews did not murder Christ, nor the Gentiles, nor the heathen, nor any one geographical section of the world, except in some local and narrow sense: the Son of God was killed by Man. Until we realise that we can make no progress in Christian knowledge, we shall be blaming the wrong parties; our commiseration will take a false direction; men who are blaming others should be broken-hearted about themselves. The perpetual difficulty is how to get rid of Christ. We want his place, not his company. We can do with him as a religious luxury, but not as a religious discipline. We love to hear briefly about him, but were the word to be shot into our heart personally, we should call it an affront, and take care that the wound never healed. Hence the weakness and the vanity of the Church.
The possibility of vanity being the inspiration of beneficence is a painful and horrible thought. Can men do good through ostentation? Who can have any doubt as to the answer? Can men make apparent sacrifices under the inspiration of vanity? Who will not fear, though he may not reply? If any man accused some other man of working through vanity, he would be distinctively human in his criticism and in his ill-nature, and his criticism would amount to nothing, for all such criticism should be turned inward, and the question should be asked, as with a spear thrust, by every man of himself, What is the inspiration of all I professedly do and want to be done in the name of Christ? We think we have dismissed Christ from human history, when, lo, he reappears in an unexpected form. We can only change the aspects of his relation to any time: the relation itself is vital and eternal. There is more than a point of criticism in that suggestion; there is a revelation of all the hopes that can animate and sustain Christian activity. A proper understanding of that suggestion would bring us comfort in many a dreary hour. Christ never goes down: the sun never sets, though we have a time we call the going down of the sun; we look westward with enlarging eyes, because the vision is apocalyptic in glory and in colour, and we wonder as we should wonder at a king dying in a palace of gold. But there is in reality no setting of the sun. He sets to rise again. It is even so with this blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His particular relation to a time may change, for a time he may even appear to withdraw altogether from our civilisation, but his is an eternal march, an ever-continuous evolution, a perpetual new-shaping of himself to the passing ages. Now he is a grand doctrine, and men say this shall be the abiding aspect of Christ; he is set forth in vivid dogmas, in what are called positive truths, in mechanically-shaped catechisms, and in stiff and orthodox standards.
Does it ever occur to the Church that sometimes Jesus Christ will come upon the ages other than as a doctrine? Such an idea never has occurred to the Church, but it has been thrust upon the consciousness of the Church by the undeniable providence of God. Sometimes Jesus Christ is in the world as an image of pity, a missionary of beneficence, an apostle of charity, touching the human heart with the sacred influence of clemency and tenderness, and making men's lives all tears. In such softening and bowing down of human obduracy there is a ministry of the Son of God. Such tears abide in fountains that are sealed to every hand but Christ's. Therefore, now Christ is a doctrine, and the age is theological; now he is a charity, and the age is benevolent; now he is an inspiration, and the Church is an aggressor, thundering at the gates of evil, cursing, with holy malediction, every form of wrong. What has changed? Christ? No; he is the same yesterday, today, and for ever; but his direction of movement or his aspect of revelation may have changed. What the Church has to believe is that Christ cannot die. Yet, unless Christ come in some particular aspect, we have groaning and complaining over the decadence of faith, and the eclipse of doctrine, and the retrogression of religious feeling. It is ignorance that rebukes; it is ignorance that despairs: true conceptions of Christ will sustain the Church, saying, Now my Lord is a summer sun; now he is the bright and morning star; now he is the root and the offspring of David, in whom all history culminates in its final glory; now he is an angel of pity, seeking the lost, blessing the unblest; and now a judge terrible in wrath, a lamb inflamed with judicial anger. Believe not those pessimists who think that Christ has been driven away, or that the Gospel is being no longer preached, or that faith is declining. Say the sun is exhausting his light, and the moon is losing her soft beauty, and the wind that brings freshness from southern lands and western climes is no longer equal to the task; say the ocean has lost its old throb of thunder;—these trifles may have occurred, but Christ can never yield his sovereignty. When an age is all controversy, when theology is turned upside down, when catechisms are sold for waste-paper, and orthodox standards are put in the fires as quickly as hands can put them in, is not Christ misunderstood and expelled? No; the door, perhaps, is the more widely opened that he may come unto his own home. We have papered him out of his own chamber; we have made it hard for him to climb up into his own palace;—if he had to climb up to it he would never get in; he descends upon it, and that way we cannot block, blessed be his grace, his tender, all-pitying love!
There is no spectacle to my own imagination more expressive of ignorance and unbelief than that of a Christian man who thinks that his Lord is getting the worst of the battle. Such a thing cannot be. Why throw your arms round an impossibility, and almost worship it as if it were a kind of idol? What we want strengthening in is the fundamental position that Jesus Christ must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. He will die upon a cross, but that will make no difference; he will be banished from this land or that, but such a policy has no effect upon the sum total of his purpose; he will himself change his aspect, but he will still be the Sun of Righteousness.
Yet a tremendous attack may be made upon the Son of God; but it cannot be made by the chief priests and scribes directly, it can only be made from the inside. This attack can only be conducted by a Judas. That is the most appalling of all thoughts. No man can injure you but one. Shall I name the man who can injure you? That man is yourself. Nobody can for a moment injure a true man in any vital sense; all criticism, all sneering, all caricature, all attempts even to defame him, end in smoke so thick that it cannot curl, and so foul that nobody wants to preserve it. One man can injure me fatally; that man is myself. No man can injure the Church; but the Church can injure itself. There are many forms of Judas. How eager we are to study the character of some ancient person called Iscariot; how eloquent we are in blame; how damnatory in criticism; oh, how expressive and noble in judgment! We know not that we are condemning ourselves, otherwise our eloquent tongue would cleave to the roof of our mouth, and our memory of words would become a blank. Judas is alive, and Judas is still selling his Lord. If any man tells you that God left you out of his love when he created the world, that man is Judas Iscariot, whatever land he may live in, and whatever language he may speak. Should he sit in his own retreat and muse upon the goodness of God in choosing him, and in the discriminating grace which left you out of the bundle of life, he is a liar, a blasphemer, and a thief; he is the man that is doing the Church injury. He may be elected, but he has no right to say you are reprobated. God neglecting you, and choosing Judas Iscariot, is a suggestion which might make the angels weep. Poor soul! God's love is greater than your sin, if you have broken all the commandments every day you have lived since your birth. Soul of man, God's love is not new to thee; it is an eternal solicitude. Any man who will tell you that Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save a few sour-visaged, impracticable bigots is a Judas. The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Are you lost? For you he came. The difficulty we have to contend with in preaching this glorious gospel is that some persons have picked up names that they do not understand, but that worry them in a most awful manner. For example, there would be those who would tell you that this is Arminianism. They do not know whether Arminianism is a theorem in Euclid, or a puzzle in algebra, or a speculation in the navigation of the Atlantic. But they have heard about it, and it has somehow the effect upon them of naming a mad dog. Whatever it is, it is my hope and trust and joy and strength that God leaves out no poor child, no old woman, no self-condemned, broken-hearted sinner.
Another form of Iscariotism is only too strikingly found in those who, having convictions, keep them in a state of continual chloroform. There are persons living today who have convictions they never express. They are the dangerous people. We have nothing to fear from blatant infidelity or disbelief; but we have nothing to hope from those who say, We keep our Christianity quiet, and our convictions we only mumble to ourselves. We need not go to this heroic point in order to display the sad state of affairs. There are persons in Christ's Church who never lift a finger for their Lord. Ask them to take office, and they are instantly so overwhelmed with modesty, that they will not open a door for him, or light a lamp, or sit on a footstool that somebody else may sit in the upper position. Can such men pray? Never. Can such men be saved? Not in that way. Are not such men Christians? They are anything but Christians. Ask a man who has a gift of song to join the leaders of the public psalmody, and he cannot do so, because he does not like to make himself conspicuous. He would not stand up for his Lord; then let him know that he has no Lord to stand up for; we must uncloak him, and unmask him, and tell him that his name is Iscariot. Ask for any service from some professing Christians, and they are pre-engaged. As if any man should be pre-engaged when Christ wants him! The greater law should swallow up the lesser. Astronomy should regulate Geography. We must not forget the motion round the sun, whilst we are so careful about the rotation upon our own axis. This is the state of affairs. It is pitiable lying for persons to be talking about the amount of infidel literature which is being published when they are acting thus towards their nominal Lord. The Christian has only one engagement, and that is to serve Christ; all other so-called engagements are incidental, transient, superficial, without value, or are only permanent and valuable in so far as they are inspired by the spirit of a larger consecration.
As judgment begins in the house of the Lord, so in the house of the Lord must begin a true revival, a solid and permanent reconstruction of all best thought and all holiest endeavour. We should have a time for the renewal of vows, an hour should be appointed for the repetition of old wedding words: again we should accept the ring from the Lamb. Lives of consecration can never be sneered at with any advantage on the side of unbelieving argument. Sacrifice is its own eloquence; self-denial, patience, love, the enduring things of the nature of affliction for others, that is a piety that cannot be talked down or exploded. Have not our teachers been emphatic on the wrong words? Have not many of them been forcing us in wrong directions? There are some persons in an almost dying state of excitement to know what people did in the fourth century. I have no very keen interest in what they did or did not do; but there are minds so singularly constituted in the economy of God that they seem to have no relation to the century they live in. What was done about the year one hundred and thirty-nine after Christ? or what did Constantine think? I really do not know, and I do not care what he thought; it may be callous upon my part, but I have next to no interest in anything he ever did or said; a glance will show me all I want to know: but the men that are round about me are dying men; the masses are poor; many of the people are the victims of public temptation and private snares, and they are being drawn to their destruction by many a wicked way; the relations of class to class are wrong in many instances; temptations are lighted up every night in every city for the allurement and destruction of souls. To ask a man who realises these things what his sober opinion is about the Nicene Creed is to him intolerable; he wants to save the drunkard, to gather the little children into school, to repress the oncoming of every form of wickedness. He wants to be pure himself and to purify the State in which he lives. Such a man, it appears to me, better represents the Church of Christ and the meaning of the Cross than some other man who is painfully and sleeplessly excited to know what was done about the year two hundred and seventeen after Christ. Nor do I altogether depose such men from their amusements and their luxuries. Tastes differ, appetite has sometimes to be encouraged a little: I only wish to say that, personally, I am not akin to those men, though they may belong to a higher family. The relation of Jesus Christ to this age is a relation of sympathy, pity, beneficence. Leave the word-mongers to wrangle over their controversies, and go ye and seek out that which is lost, distressed, and without hope.
What is the Church? It is a body of living men sustaining a living relation to living realities. It is not a soft outline; it is not an antiquated skeleton. Whoever does Christ's work is Christ's kinsman. No man can call Jesus Lord but by the Spirit; no man can do a Christian work without Christ being in him. It may be found some day that those who were discarded and cast out as not Christian have all the time been Christ's loving bondmen, doing all his will, without recognition by men; yea, and without any right relation of their own consciousness to the solemn and glorious fact. What we have to understand is the changing relation of Christ. He is now a doctrine; now a history; now a mission; now a pity; now a manifold service, social, political, economical: but one eternal thought shoots through, and rules all the economies in which he enshrines and incarnates his glory. Whatever changes, this never changes—namely, that he wants to save us, every one. My creed is: God made us all; God loves us all; God wants to meet us all at Christ's dear Cross. I cannot believe that the spirit of Judas is growing in the Church. It is well to indicate what it is, and to point out the subtlety of its operation; but he would be a poor observer of events, an ungenerous and unjust critic of human history, who did not recognise the fact that in the Church there is proportionately but one Judas. There are men who really love the Saviour, and serve him, and who count not their lives dear unto them, that they may serve the blessed one of the Most High. There are men who can say humbly and truly: "For me to live is Christ. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ." Yes; there has been a Judas in the Church; there has been also an Apostle Paul.
Jews Marvelling At Jesus
They thought there was only one way of learning. Jesus Christ committed the crime of irregularity. Propriety can never forgive that offence; it cannot in medicine, it cannot in commerce, above all it cannot in theology. There is a certain way in which things are to be done; if they are not done in that particular way they are not done at all. Jesus Christ was a thorn in the sides of the devotees of regularity. They did not know what to make of him: he was born at the wrong place, he associated with the wrong people, he supported the wrong cause—the cause of the ignorant, the poor, the blind, and the helpless; he turned upside down things that had for ages been regarded as sacred: he was not to be tolerated. The assault in this case is made upon his learning. There is no challenge addressed to his moral character; but the wonder is that a man who never went to school should be able to read, and especially a man who never went to their school. They reveal themselves herein. What can you expect from such minds? Narrowness, bigotry, sectarianism, littleness, incapacity to understand either night or day—for the night has its mystery of stars, and the day its pomp and apocalypse of light. Yet the mischief is, that these men have in all time undertaken to preserve the faith; have undertaken to patronise God and truth and eternity, and have specially registered themselves as the persons who know who is going up and who is going down. Until they and all belonging to them are swept out of the way, the kingdom of heaven, in all its ineffable blessedness, mercy, tenderness, compassion, love, can make no great progress. The kingdom of heaven suffers more from its nominal friends than it can suffer from its most hostile opponents. Jesus Christ has not been understood by the schools. You cannot get at him through grammar. He is not to be parsed like a lesson in syntax; he is to be felt, touched, known by the spirit which is akin to his own. The mistake, we say, which these men made was that they supposed there was only one way of learning. There was a curriculum; certain books were to be read in a certain order, and certain examinations were to proceed under the scrutiny of a competent examiner. Any one who had not passed through this course, no matter what he said, what he sung, how much he knew, and touched and blessed the human heart, was uncertificated, was without rabbinic and official endorsement. Blessed be God for irregularity; the heavens be praised for the spirit that rises occasionally above all mechanism, formality, and so-called propriety and conventional limitation, and shows the spirit of liberty. This can only be done occasionally; there is a way that is prescribed, and that way must often be trodden: the danger is that some should imagine they can fall down upon learning as if making a great condescension, whereas they are the very people who ought to begin at the first point, at the alphabetic origin, and work their way, letter by letter, and syllable by syllable, until they are able to converse with the Master on things concerning himself. Instead of there being only one way by which men can be learned, there are ways innumerable; there are many schools and schoolmasters, many severe-looking teachers, and many gentle patient monitors, and many curious pedagogues who have undertaken by sharp instruments to lacerate men into knowledge, to flagellate them into intelligence. There are more schools than one. The mountain is not to be ascended by one path only; it may be climbed by a great number of roads, beaten by the feet of eccentric travellers, men of adventure and daring, who might have lost themselves, but did not.
Some have learned by experience what they never could have learned by lectures. Experience is a costly teacher; experience gives object lessons, and forces the truth home upon the mind and the heart in many curious and urgent ways. Parts of the Bible can only be read through the eyes of experience. Scholars cannot read all the Bible; they can parse it to a nicety, they can correct its various readings with amazing erudition, they could die for a comma; but they do not know the Bible, necessarily, for all that. The broken heart knows what scholarship can never comprehend. Feeling has taught many men some of the higher and tenderer mysteries of the kingdom of God. It is the fashion to ridicule emotion; but without emotion what is human nature?—hard, narrow, austere, selfish. What garden can live in all its beautiful colour without the dew? We see oftentimes further through our tears than through our literary acquisition. There is a genius of feeling; there is an inspired emotion. Some parts of the Bible can only be read sympathetically; the grammar is all awry: some Biblical writers are here and there; they are desultors, now on this horse, now on that, but they never leave the horizon around which they were destined to ride with noble urgency. We must therefore know a good deal of the Bible by our feeling; it must show itself to us through our tears; it must come in through the rents and breaks and fissures which sorrow has made in the disappointed and wounded heart. There are men of such quick mind that they know the end from the beginning of every subject which they are capable of grasping; they are gifted with what is known as great intuitional power; they overleap processes. The anatomist boasted that if you gave him the bone of any animal that ever lived he could from that one bone construct the skeleton of the entire animal. Such genius is not given to all. There are those who, on hearing a proposition, know all the conclusions which are involved; we call them hotheaded, strong, impetuous, vehement, enthusiastic, wanting in that soul-patience which exhausts itself in the building up or finding out or putting together of processes. We are not all of one mould, one capacity, one temperament. When we learn this, and understand its meaning, we shall have less sectarianism, less bitterness, less mutual censoriousness, and a greater delight in the manifoldness of human things, seeing into the manifoldness of the giving God.
But "The Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Now above all things it is preeminently true that religion is not learned by letters; it is a divine action in the soul; it is a divine communion; it is the claiming of a kinship long ignored or long misunderstood; it is the look of friend to friend; it is the recognition which comes into the eyes of the wandering child when through all his sin and sorrow and disablement he begins to trace the outline of a pursuing and loving father. Then grammar would be out of place; only one eloquence is possible—the eloquence of sobbing, the eloquence that chokes the throat when it would talk, for talk in such circumstances approaches profanity. Yet there are those who can give you all their reasons for being religious. It would be harsh to condemn them. There is a piety that goes by the calendar; there is a prayer appointed for today which must not be said to-morrow, and which would have been out of place yesterday; there is a mechanical, formal, and even disciplinary way of living, but there is a religion that cannot give any reasons for itself beyond the reasons which childhood suggests, which love breathes, which an ineffable confidence clings to. We must make room for all these varieties. Wherein a man can explain his second birth, by all means let him explain it; but another man says, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. So was I born of the Spirit: in my Christianity, such a voice might continue, there is only one logic, the logic of a persuasion which nothing can destroy. Make room for all and every kind of learning. Christianity is not a controversy; it is peace, it is a sacred gladness of the heart that dare sometimes scarcely allow itself to hear its own voice, lest it should lose a charm, a possession infinite. There is a silence that is eloquent. Being justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have peace with God—a peace that passeth understanding, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is a line beyond which language cannot go; it says to the mind, I must leave you at this point; we have had some sweet communion, but the next step you take will bring you into a region where I am not known. Farewell. Instead of speaking you must muse, burn with holy glowing, sing with immeasurable rapture.
Jesus Christ deigns to explain how it was that he had excited this marvel:—"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." By "doctrine" understand teaching; not formal theology, not mechanical piety, not a thought shaped and thrust and consolidated in one form for ever, but teaching,—that endless process, that mystery of progress which claims eternity for its completion. "Not mine"; it is not an invention, not a theory, it is not something I have thought out and elaborated, and have brought to set before you in a given form; I am but a medium, I am but an errand-bearer. I do but speak the word I have heard and learned of my father; know that my incarnation is but the object on which the infinite silence breaks into the spray of speech. This was more marvellous than ever. Here is an inspired man. Behold a teacher who is teaching what he has heard in some other world! It is just there that so many teachers fail. They have only one world, and one world can hold nothing but its own grave. The teacher sent from God has all the worlds, he has the key of every mansion in his Father's house. What theories men have invented, what neat philosophies, what sublimities of impotence! Why? Because they have had no eternity, no infinity, no overshadowing greatness. So we have alphabet-makers and bookmakers, and persons who have given us thinking in four-square form, beginning, continuing, and ending, measurable, estimable, for so much sold, for so much taken back again; where the ghost of eternity, everlastingness? They have not that spirit; what they say is their own, and therefore it can all be said. He who speaks from eternity halts, suddenly deflects, adapts himself to the capacities with which he has to deal; says, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." Know the Bible in a thousand ways, and no man ever had the Bible taken out of his hands. That is the mystery. He may have had a book taken out of his hands that he was making a fetish of, an idol, a vain thing; but no man who ever grasped the Bible with his soul had it plucked from him; he does not hold it syntactically, he holds it with his heart.
Yet this knowledge has a human aspect according to the teaching of Jesus Christ:—"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." The English does not give the full force of the expression; the "shall" or "will" is not an auxiliary, it is the word which carries the emphasis—if any man willeth to do his will, he must resolutely betake himself to it. Doing is learning. It is so in language. Speak the language if you would learn it. Your first utterances will be full of grotesque errors, and you will receive for replies things you never dreamed of; but continue, persevere, never mind even a sarcastic laugh; you are learning, and you want to learn, and you say, One day I will speak this language with precision and fluency and masterliness. Then do not turn back and take no more heed of it; go where the language is spoken, speak no other language, and soon by willing to do the will the language will become part of yourself, and you will not know you are speaking it. A man hardly knows that he breathes. It is so in athletics. No man ever learns to swim by standing on the shore. You have never known of an instance of a man becoming a great swimmer who always looked out of the window at the water and never went any nearer to it; we are not aware that history records a solitary instance of a man ever becoming an expert swimmer who never went into the water. If any man willeth to do the will, sets himself to do it, says, "In God's strength I will do this," he shall know the teaching, it will come to him little by little. Do not make the mistake of supposing that there is only one set or class of religious teachers. The Rabbis thought they only knew the law; the scribes thought they only knew what was written, and they alone could read it. There are a thousand teachers. Nature, Alma Mater, sweet old loving mother, says she will tell us a thousand things we never dreamed of if we will sit down and listen to her, or if we will accept her key and go into all the rooms she has, and study there; we shall come back with all the fresh winds blowing around us, with the light of the noonday in our eyes, with the fragrance of flowers. Little children are about the greatest theologians going, the greatest theological teachers. A prodigal son in a family helps the head of the house more than anything else to understand God. Many a man has been a sour-visaged predestinationist, handing men over to the devil in millions, until his own son broke his heart; then he began to read, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth." That made him a man,—a son of God; he could have answered any number of theological propositions, but when he heard the tap on the door at midnight, and the lump came into his throat because he thought it was the wanderer who had come back again, he understood the theology of sacrifice, of love, the theology that carries with it the gospel of redemption.
History is a teacher. So we have many teachers as well as many schools,—nature, and children, and history. Go to some of these schools; accept some teacher. Do not feel yourself in the darkness more and more; accept counsel, and cry mightily unto God to point out to you the teacher that will understand you best, and for you work the miracle of a new life. No matter what a man knows if it will not bear the stress of practical life. Test your religion in the marketplace. Will your creed go down to the place where merchants most do congregate, and there talk righteousness, and deal honestly, and look fearlessly in the face of insincerity and fraud and dishonourableness? It is a good piety; do not give it up because some charmer who has nothing to give in exchange for it tells you that he has been looking into certain ancient documents and finds such and such things are not there. Cling to the spirit that is in you; it burns rottenness like fire, it disinfects a pestilential area. Will your piety go home and help the sick one, and sit up all night, and teach you the art of touching the pillow without making a noise, and bringing help to the sufferer without increasing his agony? and will you in the morning say nothing about sleeplessness or hunger or disquiet, but smile upon the sufferer as if he had done you a great favour? It is not a bad piety: keep it; will to do that will, and who knows but that some day you may see the meaning of the apocalypse, some day God will come to you and say, In reward for your obedience, patience, self-sacrifice, here is the key, open my kingdoms, and revel in them by divinely invested right. No matter what a man's religion is or profession is, if it will not bear the stress which daily life puts upon human experience, it is a misconception, it is a lie.
Almighty God, we would be led by thy Spirit into all truth. He is the Paraclete, he can take of the things of Christ and show them unto us. This is his mission; we live under his dispensation; we continually await his incoming into our heart, that he may guide us into all the mystery of the divine kingdom. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; but how much thou hast outdone all that we look upon when we turn in upon ourselves and see the mystery of manhood, the mystery of immortality. Thou hast in Christ Jesus thy Son shown us a light above the brightness of noontide; thou hast, in the words of Christ, brought us to listen to a music not otherwhere to be heard. We wonder at the gracious words which proceed out of his mouth: never man spake like this man. May we read his words not with wonder and admiration only, but with trust and thankfulness, and accept them in a spirit of obedience, that they may be turned into life and conduct and service. How great is the kingdom of God; yet how small are we, how unable to lay ourselves upon the infinite space covered by the purpose of God: may we therefore be humble, obedient, docile, expectant, always hoping for larger light and more room and better opportunity to work in. For this spirit we bless thee: this is none other itself than a miracle of grace. Thou hast subdued our rebellion and defiance and self-will, and hast brought us into an attitude of prostration; may our sincerity be without guile, may our faithfulness express the honesty of the soul, and may our hands go cut to the living God in token of need and holy expectation. Satisfy us early with thy lovingkindness, and abundantly delight us with all thy goodness. We bow at the Cross, we name the only name by which men can be saved; we look at the Sufferer, we cannot understand the agony, but we know that he suffered for us, for our iniquities he was bruised. Whilst we look we pray, we wait, we say Amen.