F. W. ATKIN,
C. K. OGDEN 1
BRIGHT AND BRIEF
TALKS TO MEN
BRIGHT AND BRIEF
TALKS TO MEN
TWENTY-ONE ADDRESSES FOR
PLEASANT SUNDAY AFTERNOONS
F. W. ATKIN
H. R. ALLENSON
IVY LANE, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C
First published in 1905.
I A MAN'S INFLUENCE .... 9
" No man liveth to himself." ROM.
II GOD'S PRISONERS 13
" The Lord despiseth not His prisoners."
Ps. Ixix. 33.
Ill THE DIFFERENCE CHRIST MAKES . 17
" If any man is in Christ he is a new
creature." 2 COR. v. 17.
IV WHY NOT A SINLESS WORLD ? . 20
" God planted a garden." GEN. ii. 8.
V SOME ONE AT THE DOOR . . 24
" Behold, I stand at the door." REV.
VI A FINE YOUNG MAN .... 28
" A choice young man, and a goodly."
i SAM. ix. 2.
VII SATAN IN KID GLOVES ... 33
" Woe unto them that call evil good,
and good evil." ISA. v. 20.
VIII WILL IRON SWIM? 37
2 KINGS vi. 1-7.
IX WHAT is MAN ? 40
" What is man, that Thou art mindful of
him?" PSALM viii. 4.
X GOD'S TRIANGLE 45
" Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly."
MICAH vi. 8.
XI THE RULE OF THE ROAD ... 50
" Counting other better than himself."
PHIL. ii. 3.
XII MORTGAGING THE FUTURE . . 55
" Give me the portion of goods that
falleth to me." LUKE xv. 12.
XIII LET BY-GONES BE BY-GONES . . 60
" A repentance which bringeth no regret."
2 COR. vii. 10.
XIV FIRED 63
" He went in ... and he went out."
2 KINGS v. 25 and 27.
XV ABRAHAM AND NOT LOT ... 67
GENESIS xviii. 22-30.
XVI Is CHRISTIANITY TRUE ? . . . .71
"The truth shall make you free."
JOHN viii. 32.
XVII THE DRINK BUSINESS, A TRADE,
NOT A " CALLING " .... 75
XVIII CHRIST'S SECOND COMING ... 80
XIX BEFORE THE JUDGE .... 85
" We must all appear before the
judgment seat of Christ." 2 COR. v. 10.
XX THAT ANCHOR HOLDS ... 89
" Rest in the Lord." Ps. xxxvii. 7.
XXI INSIDE OR OUT 92
A Man's Influence
No man liveth to himself." ROMANS xiv. 7.
How closely we are bound to our fellow men !
We are related to every man near us. We
affect men a little ; they, in the bulk, affect
us much. I cannot sin alone, nor can any
maji. I cannot separate myself, or my acts,
from the chequered life around me. I am
a thread in the loom and affect or am affected
by the other threads in the loom. Each crime
is a wound in the body of which I am a part.
Each noble deed is done by a man related
to me, and I am elevated by it. It is my cause
which is at stake in the homes of thoughtless
luxury, or the haunts of squalid poverty.
The mansion and the doss-house, your dwelling
and the common lodging-house, stand on the
same earth and affect one another for good
io BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
or ill continually. Every drunkard is a re-
proach to every sober man. Every harlot
is an insult and slur on a pure woman. The
gin-shop is a scandal to the church.
No man liveth unto himself. Many a
good sailor has been drowned in a wreck
brought about by bad seamanship. Many an
honest man has been ruined by a rogue.
I. Politically. However conservative you
may be, if the mass vote radically you have
to take the consequences. If a rascal takes
a position that ought to mean honour, you,
as well as those who put him there, must bear
the result. So every man's opinions are of
interest to every other man, because affected
II. Socially. If there is a street full of
men ground down by employers, or crushed
by the system under which they live, every
tradesman bears the consequences in dimin-
ished trade and a shrunken income. If there
lives one family careless of health and cleanli-
A MAN'S INFLUENCE n
ness, every house in the neighbourhood, and
every street in the town, is in danger ; yet
that may be the family of a nobody.
III. Morally. Of two towns, one low ly-
ing and swampy, full of ague and diphtheria ;
the other hilly, breezy and sweet ; you
would choose to live in this rather than in
If there are two towns, one morally elevated,
the other sunk and degraded, it makes a lot
of difference to the people who move into
You would rather your children be in one
town than the other.
If there is one more bad man in the town it
is the more unsafe for your boy to go into a
shop, and more risky for your daughter to
walk on the street. If a man lights a fire in
his garden, the smoke will come across yours ;
and if sin is encouraged in your neighbours'
boys how will you keep yours ? All sin
is not in environment, but there is sufficient
12 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
danger in surroundings to urge us to keep off
the fever-stricken spots.
IV. Eternally. This is a long leap, but
we are not rash when we say that we shall
finally be judged on our relationships to our
neighbours. It is a bad job if you do not
pray ; it is also bad if you are not kind.
It is bad if your neighbour does not know
Jesus ; it is also bad if you do not speak to
him about the Lord. Our neglect of our
neighbours is already condemned. "If thou
considerest not them that are drawn unto
death, and those that be ready to be slain ;
if thou sayest ' behold we know it not ' ; doth
He that pondereth the heart consider it, and
He that keepeth thy soul doth He not know it,
and shall He not render to every man accord-
ing to his work."
GOD'S PRISONERS 13
" The Lord . . . despiseth not His prisoners."
PSALM Ixix. 33.
You know the meaning of the word. The law
puts its hand on a man's shoulder and says,
" You are my prisoner." The idea is control
and limitation. In the hand or under lock
and key the man is a prisoner, because his
liberty is limited, and his movements con-
Are any of us prisoners of God in this sense ?
Yes ! There are limits put upon us by the
providence of God. We are fit for some
things ; we are not for others. We might
fill one place, but another is an impossi-
I. Poverty. Over which we have no con-
trol. We have no hope, perhaps, but to be
14 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
poor to the very end. We are not fit or able
to earn more than barely enough.
The message of the text is that such limita-
tions are never despised by the Lord, and
that the poorest of the poor are never scorned
II. Meanness of Natural Endowment. We
would all be orators if we could, but shall never
do more than " talk right on." We would all
perform like Rubinstein, but shall have to be
content to play a few Sankeys on a harmo-
nium. Some cobblers blossom into Members
of Parliament ; but most of us will have to
stick to the lap-stone.
There is an election of nature as well as of
grace. "Oh, if I could only stand up and
speak ! I would," etc. Yes ; and maybe the
Lord made you fit only to sit still and keep
But you need not go on to say, " Surely the
Lord is ashamed of me," for He does not
despise His prisoners.
GOD'S PRISONERS 15
III. Trouble. That over which we have
no control, and for which we are not respon-
sible. It comes to us. We cannot be the
same. It cripples our usefulness. It may be
in business, or right at home indoors. Many
a one has said, " I cannot do as I would.
Everybody doesn't know, but " ; and then
came the story of the family or personal grief
and trial. The Lord lift up such bowing
heads ! We are sure such prisoners are never
IV. Lastly, there are the shortlived, frail
and physically incapable.
Henry Ward Beecher said a man ought to
be ashamed to die before he is seventy. Yes,
and so we shall be if we may have Beecher's
start and constitution and upbringing. But
nature has treated some of us very scurvily.
We would be brave in the street corner but
for predisposition to asthma, or if our lungs
We would sing like angels, but we have no
16 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
ear for music. We would go to China, but
we are lifelong invalids. Many a soul as heroic
as Mackay's and Hannington's has its ministry
to spend in a bedroom. And old age comes.
That confinement and limitation of the sturdi-
est and best. But such are not thrown heed-
lessly aside. The Lord despiseth not His
THE DIFFERENCE CHRIST MAKES 17
The Difference Christ Makes
" If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature."
2 COR. v. 17.
Internally. Religion is not like a man
having money. Christ's pardon and grace is
not like giving a man a shilling. You can
put that in your pocket, take it out, look at it,
count it, or perhaps lose it. But it is rather
like a doctor giving you completely new health.
You cannot pocket it, or finger it, or show it
in your hands. Nevertheless, everybody knows
you have it, and nobody sooner than yourself.
How do I know I have it ? How do you
know you have got good health after sickness ?
Old things have passed away. I am a new
creation in Christ Jesus. New feelings, new
comforts, new thoughts, a new heart.
1 8 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
Externally. Yes ; first different inside, then
outside. The heart, then the hand.
The man can now do what he could not
before, can bear what he could not before.
Once the least temptation knocked him down ;
now he stands firmly through big ones. I
know this change is very gradual with some
of us, and it throws us open to the charge that
the change is not real. But it is real. Only
the Lord has much trouble with some of us.
We are only just cured. The disease is only
just destroyed, and we are very long (to our
shame) getting up our new strength. But it
is coming ; then we shall be completely changed
Eternally. Thank God : Once done, done
for ever. This work lasts. I know a street
in London, every house of which was condemned
to come down to make room for a new high-
way. What a fool a man would be to build
in that street ! So build the men who build
only on earth, where a " Notice to Quit " is
THE DIFFERENCE CHRIST MAKES 19
always fluttering at our letter-box. It need
not be. We have a change now that will be
Splendid ! Here is a thing that time will
never wither, and changes never injure.
What must it be to be good, and never bad
again ! To be happy, and never sad again !
To be strong, and never weak again ! To see
Christ, and never forget Him again !
But this change must be yours. Must
really take place in you.
Clothes on another man's back will not
cover you ! Coals in another man's cellar
will not warm you ! Wages in another man's
pocket will not keep you ! And religion in
another man's heart will not change you !
20 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
Why not a Sinless World ?
" God planted a garden." GENESIS ii. 8.
IT is a very old question ; and, if a man wishes
to raise objections, a very convenient ques-
tion : " Why did not God make creatures
who could not sin ? " then there would have
been no sin, no misery or shame. " Why
did not God make his creatures without the
power of sinning."
So God did ! Did what ?
Make creatures without the power to sin !
Where ? In field and forest, and sea, moun-
tain and valley. The world teems with
living creatures, and only one kind out of
the multitude can sin. Cows, dogs, birds,
fishes, mice, tigers, none of these ever commit
sin. God made the round world and said,
WHY NOT A SINLESS WORLD ? 21
" Good," but was not satisfied. God made
the world decorate itself with chains of silver
rivers, and the fringe and lace of forest and
field, and gem itself with flowers. Again
God said, " Good," but was not satisfied.
Then God made moving life, fish with fin
to paddle, bird with wing to fly, the creatures
of hill and wood to leap and run.
Again God said, " Good," but was not
satisfied. The Lord could make a creature
more beautiful than the bird, or swifter than
the hound, or stronger than the lion. So
God thought again, and said He would make
a man after His own likeness.
Then was man made, with power to discri-
minate, a mind to think in fact, made respon-
sible for his doings. Then God said, ** Very
good," and was satisfied. In plain terms,
God was not content until He had made a
creature who could recognize His Maker.
A creature whom He could trust,, and with
whom He could commune ; a creature who
22 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
could develop moral qualities. Only a coward
will moan about being responsible. To be
responsible is to be trusted with something.
And from a child we like to be trusted. Res-
ponsibility is honourable. The responsible
man is the great man. If the creatures
betray the trust, God is sorry and will try
to win them back to faithfulness. Some
will remain loyal, and in these the Lord will
take pleasure. At the close of an open-air
meeting a man said with a sneer, " Who made
Adam sin ? " I at once answered, " Who made
you do your last sin ? Point out the man
who caused you to tell your last lie, and
your finger will hook in and point to
yourself." The story shows that
I. No place is free from temptation.
There is a serpent even in Eden. There
is opportunity for wrong-doing everywhere.
Wherever a man goes he takes his liability
to temptation with him.
II. Temptation, always plausible, mani-
WHY NOT A SINLESS WORLD ? 23
tests a great anxiety for your advancement
and welfare, and usually guarantees your
Ye shall be as gods ; ye shall not surely
III. If acceded to, shame always follows.
First herself, then her companion. Both
Adam and Eve are ashamed in the
presence of purity ; degraded by the first
touch of sin.
IV. The consequences always prove the
Devil's He. Banishment, Pain, and Toil.
24 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
Some One at the Door
" Behold I stand at the door." REV. iii. 20.
THIS verse is part of a letter to a church.
Yet it is a text constantly used for evang-
elistic purposes. Urgent appeals have been
made to the unconverted, hundreds of times,
from this text. And the instinct of the
preacher is right. "If any hear " is very
emphatic. There are two main thoughts.
I. Christ is near the soul.
II. Why there ?
Now it is plain that if Christ knocks at the
door, He is quite close to the house. A man
knocking is on the threshold. This leads
to the thought that a man cannot keep his
own secrets. If Christ is near enough to
SOME ONE AT THE DOOR 25
knock, then He is near enough to hear all
that goes on inside.
I once knocked at a door, and soon heard
furniture being moved about, cupboard doors
being shut, a general straightening up within.
I was amused. I did not object to them
getting ready to receive a visitor, but they
did not think I heard. Being near enough
to knock, I could hear what went on inside.
That is true about Jesus Christ. Some-
times I have been startled by the thought.
Near enough to hear the secret wish ; to hear
the private thoughts, to perceive the querulous
complaint, and, thank God, also to hear the
He is also near enough to see all the traffic
in and out of the heart. He sees the income
of the soul, and its output. He sees what
kind of company you keep in the heart. He
sees what and whom you harbour within.
Standing at the door, all the traffic of your
life passes before Him
26 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
II. Why there?
1. Certainly not as a spy. Though He
sees and hears all, that is not His errand. He
does not stand ear-at-keyhole, but hand-
on-shoulder. That is, He wants to come in.
2. He knows your need, and knows only
He can supply it.
You have difficulty with yourself. You
cannot overcome yourself. He wants to come
in to help you. You remember the story
of His awakening by the terrified disciples
in the boat how with a word He rebuked
wave and wind, and they fell back quiet.
Many a man has been at the mercy of passion
or habit. Christ has been welcomed to the
soul, and will, temper, passion, habit, have
owned the Master Voice and have been stilled.
3. He comes to bring supplies of grace
and joy. The second half of the text points
to this. John McNeill tells a story of his
student days. He felt moved one morning
to visit a case of poverty which he well knew.
SOME ONE AT THE DOOR 27
He knocked at the door. Quietly but swiftly
the key was turned in the lock. He knocked,
but there was no response until he spoke.
Then the door was flung open. ' Oh, Mr.
McNeill, I didn't know it was you. I thought
it was the man for the rent. I couldn't pay
it last week, and I am not ready for him now,
and I couldn't see him." " No," said the
young student, " I am not the man for the
rent ; I am the man that's brought it." How
many souls keep out their best friend under
the impression that He comes making great
demands. It is a mistake, a great mistake.
If the soul will entertain Him, then soon
he turns host and fills the hungry with good
things. Some one is at the door. Will you
let Him in ? The catch is on your side of
A Fine Young Man
" A choice young man and a goodly."
i SAMUEL ix. 2.
THAT is Saul was a fine young man. Nature
had been very lavish in her endowments.
Fine physically, fine as to courage, and
I think fine as to temper. Saul was a
modest, generous-hearted young man. Nature
started him well.
Yet his is one of those stories which make
it perfectly clear that fine natural endow-
ments do not make up for lack of religious
convictions. Saul was well endowed every-
where excepting here He lacked deep reli-
I. His lack shown. It has been pointed
out as singular that Saul did not know Samuel
by sight when he met him. Samuel was a
A FINE YOUNG MAN 29
travelling preacher and judge. Was Saul
not enough interested in Samuel to go to
hear him when in the neighbourhood of his
home ? It appears not. Did Saul never
go up to any religious feast at which Samuel
was present ? It seems not.
It is a bad look-out if a young fellow lives
very long without getting to know even one
religious teacher by sight.
1. Then when Saul was impatiently waiting
for Samuel to come to offer sacrifice before
a battle, did not Saul manifest deep-seated
irreverence when he laid hold and offered
the sacrifice himself because Samuel was a
little delayed ?
2. Was not that cry, " Is Saul also among
the prophets ? " a piece of surprised sarcasm ;
as though the folk who knew him said,
" What ! Saul a Prophet ! " And of what
could such sarcasm be born but an ill opinion
of Saul's fitness for such company ? The
people did not expect to see religion in him.
30 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
II. The result of this lack. He soon
broke away from Samuel, the Prophet who
loved him when he anointed him, and on to
the very end.
It is a sad sign when young men shake off
the hand that controls them ; when they
turn from their old best friend. It brought
the grave disobedience and lapse and deceit
over Amalek. Saul did not fully obey the
Lord. He kept the best things to trim a
triumph. He met Samuel with a blessing
on his lips and said, " I have done what I
was told " ; but in his heart cursing his bad
luck that the bleating of the sheep could be
heard by Samuel. Then that fine open disposi-
tion gradually soured, and grew morose and
suspicious, leading to attempted murder.
Then came the crisis when Saul was face
to face with great danger and had no one
to fall back upon the Prophet dead, the Lord
departed. And he sank so low as to consult
A FINE YOUNG MAN 31
And this ends in suicide.
Sad ! Sad ! such wrecks of noble lives !
Few men ever had a better start. Few
men have made a worse ending. And all be-
cause Saul lacked deep religious convictions.
I have seen in cases butterflies pinned down
for exhibition, every part and colour distinct.
We have here seen in the scriptures Saul
pinned down. It is for us to read, mark, learn,
but not that we may throw stones at him,
for another book is being written. You and
I are being written in this. How good a start
we had ! What chances ! What aids ! Let
us see to it that our story ends differently,
and altogether to the Glory of God.
III. One further question : Had 5aul any
fair chances ?
1. He had a good start.
2. He had a great uplift of heart at the
time of his anointing. The young man was
so moved and stirred that it was as though
he had got a new heart.
3- When accused of his disloyalty to God's
trust and commission, how humble and ashamed
at length he appeared to be ! But it was
of a mean and personal sort. He was ashamed
for his people to see his disgrace.
What might have been had penitence that
day been sincere !
This man pushed his way down through
chance after chance and appeal after appeal.
God never lets a man go without trying hard
to keep him.
Here lies the guilt of Saul, and of us all.
We are called, and called again. And the
doom comes because we refuse to hear.
SATAN IN KID GLOVES 33
Satan in Kid Gloves
" Woe unto them that call evil good, and good
evil." ISAIAH v. 20.
" SATAN in kid gloves ; " and it is a grim
fact. That is my subject ; but I have not
chosen it because it sounds funny.
I have put it in that way because it is
easily remembered and I want you to carry
away what I have to say.
In London, not long ago two burglars, at
different times, were caught wearing kid gloves.
The reason they wear gloves is because
paint easily takes finger marks and thumb
marks. Before now a burglar has been con-
victed by a thumb mark on a dusty plate.
Burglars want to do their work without
being found out. They don't desire to call
34 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
attention to themselves (humble minded
men that they are !). The paint may be
without a smirch, and yet a great burglary
has taken place.
The Devil works in kid gloves. A man
may have been robbed of all the best that he
had, and there is not a finger mark on him to
I. The Devil is very particular about
appearances. He can lie and cheat and
gamble and sin and not have a speck on his
cuffs or collars, and not have a streak of bad
manners about him. His victims are sinners
as others, but they are not caught yet. Sin-
ners, but so far undiscovered. This section of
Satan is very anxious to keep respectable.
II. The Devil will steal the best you
have, and leave you apparently all right.
He will rob a beautiful girl of her virtue,
and leave her beautiful ; rob a fine, well-set-
up young fellow of the cleanness of his heart,
and he still looks as clean as his unstained
SATAN IN KID GLOVES 35
companions ; rob a tradesman of his integrity
and honesty, and people still think he has not
a stain upon his character.
Aldermen and Councillors have been known
to take prices for contracts and " notes " for
votes, and still appear before their con-
stituents open-faced, and cleanhanded, and
honest as the daylight.
I have known ministers who drank on the
sly, but there was nothing to show it.
Honour gone, virtue gone, sweetness gone,
truth gone, but nobody knew.
If the devil's work showed, people would
avoid it as poison. But it goes on and on
and nobody sees a finger mark. The soul is
robbed of all the best things it has, and the
devil has not left a stain behind.
(3) But Secret failure is failure ; and
secret sin is sin. If Satan has come into a man
it little matters whether or not his work at
once shows. Emptiness is emptiness, and
though people may be taken in
36 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
" You will have to get up early, If you want
to take in God."
III. The most fatal case of all is when
Satan is robbing a man and the man himself
is asleep and does not know.
It often is happening. Because a man has
not watched he is losing all good from his
heart. May the Lord make us watchful and
brave to defend our moral wealth!
WILL IRON SWIM? 37
Will Iron Swim ?
2 KINGS vi. 1-7.
THERE is a quaint story from the old history
of the doings of the Prophets of Israel telling
us that once iron was made to swim.
A working man, and a poor one at that,
was in great trouble because the head of an
axe he had borrowed had flown from . the
haft and fallen into a pool. It would not
have mattered so much if it had been his
own, but " alas ! master, for it was borrowed."
The Prophet delivered the man out of his
anxiety by bringing the axe to the surface in a
This started my question. " Will iron
swim ? " or " Can iron be made to swim ? "
It is really a parabolic way of asking, Can