38 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
the down man be got up ? Can the fallen
be raised ? Can the half drowned be brought
up out of the deep that overwhelms him ?
Can iron swim ? By itself, No. It has no
natural capacity for swimming ; it cannot
develop power to raise itself. It cannot grow
buoyant. Where sunk, there it will lie. Or
if placed in water it will sink straightway.
Can iron swim ? By the touch of a
higher power, Yes. The world is girded by
floating iron. Shipbuilders are so fashioning
iron that it swims. How ? By laying hold
of the laws of the universe which are the laws
Gravitation draws the iron downwards at
such a weight. The water bears it upward
at such a pressure. The ship-modeller knows,
and he runs his ship between the two laws,
and so iron swims.
Then, Can the down man get up? By
himself, No I He has no natural capacity
for raising himself out of sin. He cannot
WILL IRON SWIM? 39
develop the power to lift himself up. But
By the touch of a higher power, Yes.
The world is filling with men who have been
brought up out of the horrible pit. The Holy
Spirit is constantly fashioning down men so
that they do come up. How ? By laying
hold of the laws and promises of God.
Sin presses down at such a weight. Divine
grace bears upward at such a pressure. The
Redeemer knows, and by the uplifting power
of grace and love, and in spite of the down-
bearing weight of sin, He lifts up his man.
40 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
What is Man ?
" What is man, that Thou art mindful of him ? "
PSALM viii. 4.
I. The Naturalist's view. The answer to
this question depends upon whom you ask.
An ordinary observer with the tendencies
of a naturalist might reply : A tiny creature
living upon one of the minor members of our
Solar system. The earth he lives on is not
by any means the most important member of
the universe, a tiny eccentric speck in the mass
And in that speck he is neither so big nor
swift nor beautiful nor strong nor long-lived
nor healthy as many another creature on
the same earth. Some creatures have clearer
WHAT IS MAN ? 41
eyes and can see farther. Some creatures
have keener ears and can hear finer sounds.
Some creatures are better mechanics.
That is the naturalist's view of the matter,
and you know science cannot lie.
II. The Chemist replies: What is man?
A make-up of gases, salts, charcoal, and a
sprinkle of one or two other substances out
of the great castor of nature. That is the
Chemist's statement of the case.
You know it is true and so you hang your
head and beg to be allowed to pass on.
III. What is man ? The Biologist an-
swers : He is a bundle of the varied and
peculiar features of the many different creatures
who have gone before him. He is not like
any one of them, but has borrowed parts from
all. Look at that man lifting the skin of his
forehead, perhaps able to move his whole
scalp. Well ! have you never seen a horse
shake a fly from his ribs by making his skin
quiver ? You got that from the horse.
42 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
See how clever those sailors are in the
rigging, and the fireman on ladder and ledge ;
how they cling, and crawl, and suspend.
Monkeys did that in the forest trees before the
first man was born.
See that woman smelling food to find out
whether it is fresh and sweet. The cats and
dogs taught her that. And you even catch
yourself wishing your sense of smell or sight
was equal to that of the hound or bird from
which you borrowed that power.
And so it is with every physical movement
you make. So ! says the Biologist, So it
is. And we do not contradict either of the
answers given to us.
But there is not a man of us who does not
feel that there is very much left unsaid. Yes,
it is true, the hawk has a clearer eye ; but
looking at a landscape I can see more than any
hawk that ever flew.
The hound has a keener ear, but I can hear
more than any hound ever heard. Many a
WHAT IS MAN? 43
creature has a finer sense of smell than I have,
but I never knew one that could find in a rose
or lily or primrose what I can.
Some one said to Mr. Ruskin, " A cat may
look at a king." "Yes," he replied, "but
she can't see one."
IV. What is a man? Let the Psalmist
answer. " Thou hast made him a little lower
than God, and hast crowned him with glory and
honour. Thou madest him to have dominion
over the works of Thy hands."
Another speaker in the Bible says, " There
is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the
Almighty giveth him understanding."
What is a man? A creation of God, open
to the approach of God. Made by God, but
capable of communion with God. A creature
of the earth, but able to render God service.
A creature of time, whose destiny is wrought
out in eternity.
This body of which the biologist gives the
history and the naturalist the comparative
44 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
capacity, is but a casement, and not the man ;
the window, and not the soul that looks through
it. The mind and spirit, and not the body, is
the standard of the man.
GOD'S TRIANGLE 45
" What doth the Lord require of thee, but to
do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly."
MICAH vi. 8.
ONLY too often it happens that we observe
cases in life where religion seems to be divorced
from good behaviour. We notice instances
of men who profess religion, but whose lives
are not straight. Sometmies we even hear of
the plea that a man's faith makes up for his
moral lapses, his hardness, or his unkindness.
I need hardly say to you how contrary all
this is both to the Bible and common sense.
Our own judgment teaches us that religion
is very largely composed of good behaviour,
and that if this be absent, or very partial in
46 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
the life, we have a right to suspect the religion
that is professed. And the Book from which
the purest religion gets its rise, and in which
it finds its earliest examples, and where is
enshrined the story of its founder, this book
tells us differently, on many a page and in
many a story. I take a verse from the old
Testament to make this very clear.
After saying that it is not enough to offer
sacrifices and make prayers, the speaker,
Micah, asks, " What does the Lord require
of thee but to do justly, love mercy, and walk
humbly with thy God ? " I call this God's
DO RIGHT. BE KIND. BE HUMBLE.
And it seems to me that the essence and the
substance of all good behaviour lies here.
One further word is necessary at this point.
Never believe that the New Testament lowers
the quality of the religion, or lowers the stan-
dard of morality found in the Old Testament.
GOD'S TRIANGLE 47
The New Testament does not require less, but
more, than the" Old. Religion and Morality
in the new Testament are so woven together
that no man can put them asunder.
DO RIGHT. BE KIND. BE HUMBLE.
I. Be fair in dealing ; that is the business
side of it. Be fair in treatment ; that is the
family and brotherly side of it. God wants
you to do rightly in your dealings with all.
Not a thread short in the warp. Not a yard
short in the piece. Not a word unfair in the
talk about another. Not an act unjust to
man, woman or child.
II. Be kind Love mercy. When all is
correct, and all right, then still a bit more. Do
right, and more ; indeed, this is a part of the
right love mercy. And notice that this is
to be your course because you love it.
You may do right ; you must do right ;
you must also love to be kind.
III. Be humble. In the midst of all our
48 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
relations to others we are to remember that
we have a God above us, and that we are to
walk lowly and humbly before Him. Right
is right, but it is not all. Kindness is right,
but that is not all. Both of these may be
done and a very proud heart remain. Walk
humbly with thy God.
THESE FORM GOD'S TRIANGLE
If you are anxious to know the spirit and
birth and power of the Christian life you will
surely go to the New Testament. But this
will serve for your lesson in behaviour. God
requires these things, and there are no substi-
tutes. A man can't be dishonest, and make
it up in kind generosity. A man cannot be
straight and strict in business matters, and
neglect kindness. A man is not permitted
to assume humility in the presence of Go 1 and
take it out by lording it over others.
God requires these three things in our
behaviour, and it is the minimum. If you
GOD'S TRIANGLE 49
would be a Christian, then along with your
faith and hope and emotion you must have,
RIGHTNESS. KINDNESS. HUMILITY.
50 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
" In lowliness of mind each counting other
better than himself." PHIL. ii. 3.
I AM calling my address to-day, " The Rule
of the Road." But I shall want to move the
idea on one or two stages before I have
I remember reading when I was a lad
a couple of verses in the corner of some
newspaper which have stuck to me ever
The rule of the road is a paradox quite ;
In riding or driving along,
If you keep to the left you are sure to go right,
If you keep to the right you go wrong.
THE RULE OF THE ROAD 51
In walking the street 'tis a different case ;
To the right it is right you should bear,
On the left should be left enough of clear space
For the passengers you may meet there.
That is the law of the road. And very
convenient it is, when all on the pavement or
street remember the rule. But we all know
that if rule were all, the world would be a
We have added to the " Rule "of the road,
the " courtesies " or " civilities " of the
You make room for women to pass on the
pavement. Without thinking much about it
I am sure you have extended those courtesies.
Of course you sometimes have to get off to
make room for others, sweeps and millers
coming from business, and some men returning
from the public house.
These civilities of the footpath become
almost instinctive. It is a rule of my road
to make room for people carrying burdens.
52 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
Not because I am afraid of having my hat
knocked off by the butcher's basket or my
head bruised by a step-ladder, but because I
have thought about the added weight to a
burden when it has to be carried on and off a
kerbstone. I go a little further. Whenever
I meet men going to or returning from work
1 step out of the way. One man has may be
ten hours' hard work behind him, the other
may have ten hours before, and I give them
These may be very small matters to talk
about here, but I invite you to follow the
same course as far as you can.
And it is of immediate use for us to apply
the idea as a test to ourselves. Have you
in the past been thoughtful or kind enough
to consider these people ? Do you care
enough about these people to make their way
smooth and easy for them ? But the question
will arise, *' Haven't I as much right on the
pavement as any other man ? " Every bit.
THE RULE OF THE ROAD 53
But when you begin to talk about rights, you
touch a very deep matter. And let me tell
you that the millennium about which people
talk will come on the evening of the day
when people all give up striving for their own
rights and commence helping other people
to get theirs.
Now, what is the application of all this ?
Of course I have to bring in religion, you say.
Men ! all this is religion to me and if I thought
you would go away to pay more heed to the
little courtesies of life I should hardly go on
to say more. But one more step I would
carry you with me. When people are going
to work, you make room. When women are
going to market or church, you make way.
So, also, when people are trying to get to
Heaven, we ought to be careful not to stand in
I know women who can never get to chapel ;
their husbands stand in their way women
who, when younger, used to be maidens active
54 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
in Christian work. Now they never mingle
with God's people ; their husbands are the
hindrance . Give your wife a chance of Heaven .
I hope you are travelling that way yourself ;
but if not, at least do not prevent any one
MORTGAGING THE FUTURE 55
Mortgaging the Future
" Give me the portion of goods that falleth to
me." LUKE xv. 12.
I SAW this short sentence in a shop window in
Paternoster Row, London. It arrested my
steps for a moment, and it has been in my
memory ever since. What does it mean ?
What is the business arrangement called a
A man owns property. He needs cash, but
does not wish to sell. For an immediate supply
of his needs, he gives another man certain,
claims on his property. This is the essence
of the contract.
56 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
As used in this topic it means that a man
possesses a future, which is another way of
saying he expects to keep on living so
In order to get certain liberties now, he
gives a pledge that what duties he does not
attend to now he will attend to in those coming
He probably never fixes the date. It is
really like saying, " Let me have my way now :
I will straighten matters another time. Let
me take it easily to-day. I will make it up
Some men are idle. They like to be, they
want to be. If any friend is true enough to
speak about it they say, " Oh ! I shall have
plenty of time later on." Their life is like
a train of seventy compartments. They leave
all the early compartments empty and say
they will crowd everything in lower down
Some men love pleasure. They give
MORTGAGING THE FUTURE 57
their days to it, and nights too, very often.
They have ambitions, and would be very sorry
to think they would never achieve them.
When a friend expostulates (and happy man
is he who has so true a friend !) these
men say, " Oh, I'll do some serious work
later on. I'll pull up. I can soon make
up for lost time." This man is promising
everybody that later on he will toil like a
Some men are wasteful of opportunities.
They mean to get on in life, in business, in
art. They are a bit piqued when another man
steps into an open door in front of them. But
they say, " There will be plenty of chances.
I am only young yet. Plenty of time." They
deeply pledge themselves that they will be
ready for the next. Now, men, these are
instances of what is going on around us.
Ought we to pledge our future in this fashion ?
Let us give clear answers.
(i) Probably two chances of the same
58 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
kind never come to a man ; and certainly, he
always gets the better start if he takes the
(2) You never can do so much in a crowded
year as in two years over which it is wisely
(3) The fact is, you cannot make up for
the lazy years of an idle youth. Time lost
then is lost for ever.
Men ! the principles lying beneath these
simple lessons lie beneath all our lives.
It is true about morals that mortgaging the
future is a dangerous experiment. Wild oats
do not make wheat crops, and wicked young
men do not turn into wise and pure fathers.
And, after all, what right have we to say, " I
will be good next year, only let me do as I
like this." " I will turn to God afterwards,"
says many a young man, full of folly. The
day for the turning is now. How much better
to go straight from the beginning. Then there
are no losses to make good, no mortgages
MORTGAGING THE FUTURE 59
to pay off, no time to recover ; all the future
will be yours and God's and no man have
any claim upon you at all.
60 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
Let By-gones be By-gones
" A repentance which bringeth no regret."
2 COR. vii. 10.
You know the kind of occasion that gives
rise to this expression. There has been quarrel,
estrangement, difference. A better moment
seems to have come, and one of the parties,
wishing the past all sponged out, says, " Well,
let by-gones be by-gones." He means Let us
turn our faces from the past, forget all offences,
and start afresh.
It is a very happy word to hear in a man's
mouth. Now I want to ask you to consider :
Who are the people who have the right to
use this word ?
I know the folks who often do use the words.
Very often indeed it is the man who created
LET BY-GONES BE BY-GONES 61
the offence and brought about the alienation.
He now has a better mood on him, at any rate
for the moment, and in a gush of feeling says,
" Let by-gones be by-gones."
That man has no business to use them at all.
He is a husband who has been a bit of a brute
not a violent, vulgar one maybe, but still
cruel. He sees his wife is breaking down.
In an attack of remorse he uses these words.
I mean to say he has no right to use the words
Let him change his conduct. Let him
deeply repent, aye, and ask forgiveness, and
it is the woman who has the right to say, and
soon will say, " Let by-gones be by-gones."
An employee has been lazy and dishonest.
He is brought up and reproved. Is it for him
to talk about letting by-gones go by ? That
word belongs to his master.
When a youth, a son, has pained and grieved
a mother, it is too flippant a word for such a
lad to take into his lips. The mother will be
62 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
very glad to say it when the by-gones are
atoned for, by fitting sorrow and fitting change.
Her's is the word, and it is not for him to quote
about by-gones. And when we turn to con-
sider our relations to our Lord we find that
there, too, the word is not ours to use.
What right have we to sin and sin and sin,
and then say, " Let by-gones be by-gones."
Only the Lord Himself can say that.
When the Lord does say it, then may
you too. You need then grieve and worry no
more, as though the difference still existed,
and the account was still unpaid. You may
start afresh with courage and cheer, for when
the Lord says it, they have gone
THE BY-GONES ARE BY-GONES
" He went in, . . and he went out "
2 KINGS v. 25, 27.
THIS is the story of Gehazi, and a very striking
story it is. I want to make it in five lines,
and we shall find this story as fresh as yester-
day's shower of rain or the morning's Police
I. Here is a man who lives with a man
of God. What fine chances some men have !
All of us have some good chances. Some of
us seem to have all the good chances there are.
Living with a good man. Father. Master,
Mate. Seeing goodness every day. If we
are not near the Kingdom ourselves, we
know those who are, and we have seen the
64 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
II. Yet this man was not satisfied. He
had bad, hankering desires. Some men never
seem to be content with what can be had in a
right and legitimate way.
This man is with the prophet and fares as
well as the prophet. But it is not good
enough for him, and he is prepared to break
all the honest rules of life to get something
else his heart is set on.
III. A man can generally get what he
wants, and sometimes more. GehazS suc-
ceeded beyond his dreams. Satan is ready
to give any man success like this. Only bow
down and worship him, and what Christ re-
jected you can have at the same price at
which it was offered to Him. Sodom's apples
are in every man's reach. Any half-holiday
can take you to the devil's pasture. Success
along these lines is very easy to get.
IV. The Interview. Gehazi put on a
smooth face, dusted his sandals and went in
quite cool, not a hair turned. " Rejoice O
young man in thy youth, and let thine heart
cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk
in the ways of thy heart and in the light of
thine eyes; but know thou that for all these
things God will bring thee to judgment."
You may wander far to satisfy your bad
ambitions after a bad success, but from all
the devious wandering you will thread your
way irresistibly back, and you will go in to
stand before your master.
V. After the Interview. And he went
out. Nobody knows whereto. " Where have
you been, Gehazi ? " " Nowhere particular.
Did you call ? I've been on the premises all
the time. I did not hear you." " Did not
my heart go with you ? "
A bit of God goes with every man every-
where, and He knows. Gehazi went out silently.
Not a word to say. There is nothing to say
when you are found out, as you will be. Men
should think of the last step before they take
the first. There are two other men of whom
66 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
it is said they " went out." Judas, the classic
and proverbial traitor he went out, out of life
itself, and we only know of him, that " it had
been better for that man if he had not been
born." Peter, the man who suddenly fell,
through self-confidence. We see him go out
into the darkest night he ever saw. But he
was penitent and sad. We see him come
back again, restored to life, and fellowship,
ABRAHAM AND NOT LOT 67
GENESIS xviii. 22-30.
IN this story there are two men who become
prominent. Two good men. For although
Lot does not come out well if we read his
whole life, we have the New Testament for it
that he had a " righteous soul."
Now of these two good men, one becomes an
intercessor so urgent and powerful that 3,000
years afterwards we cannot read the story of
it without being thrilled.
Why does one become a mighty inter-
cessor rather than the other ? Can this
secret be explained ? It is to be remembered
that Abraham had nothing at stake in the
68 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
threatened destruction of Sodom. Lot had
everything at stake.
Abraham could only know the condition
of the city as an outsider, a countryman.
Lot know it by personal contact, a townsman.
Yet it is Abraham who intercedes, and not
Why was this ? We are not surprised at
the facts. We should have been surprised
had Lot been able to pray mightily. We know
he did not go to Sodom as a missionary.
But can the thing be made plain to us ? Yes,
quite plain enough for us to avoid the mistake
of the one, and to strive after the example of
The lesson and fact is, that praying power is
not a thing which can be separated from the
life we live. This power of intercession is
perhaps the supreme achievement of the
soul. It is not a faculty that can be used
apart from the spiritual condition of a man.
A man cannot say, "Go to, I will now pray
ABRAHAM AND NOT LOT 69
mightily." On entering, a man cannot say,
" Now I will pray powerfully to-night." A
man with a short body cannot reach a great
height, nor can a little soul pray a great prayer.
Abraham was a finer man, and so could pray
a grander prayer.
How did Abraham become qualified ? It
was known as much of Abraham as of Enoch,
that he walked with God. Under the still
starry sky, on the broad plain and hill, Abra-
ham cultivated his soul, while Lot, in the
bustling city, cultivated his business and the
friendship of wicked men.
That day of the prayer was not the first
day spent in the presence of the Lord. Abra-
ham knew God before this. You can speak
boldly only to a well-known friend. You
heard Lot pray, did you not ? " Let me go
to this little town Zoar, and don't send me to
the hills." Narrow, selfish, hard-hearted
for at the very moment the clouds shot fire
into the town Sodom.
70 BRIGHT AND BRIEF TALKS
How singular that this petty little prayer
should be answered, and Abraham's not. The
next morning Abraham went out to the ridge
of hills ; saw his own peaceful homestead in
the distance behind ; and beyond the hills,
the smoke of the fire ascending from the valley.
Yet I would rather have prayed Abraham's
prayer and failed, than Lot's and succeeded.
Can we pray ? Are we able to pray ? Can
our souls rise to the holy exercise ? If not, let
us start to climb the hill. The summit of
mighty intercession is only reached by taking
our whole selves with us. When we go to
the hill of prayer, we go as we are, and our con-
dition of soul decides what the prayer will be.
IS CHRISTIANITY TRUE ? 71
Is Christianity True ?
" The truth shall make you free." JOHN viii. 32.
"Brothers, Christianity is true." I say
this because I firmly believe that a good
tree is requisite to produce good fruit. I
am prepared to have Christianity judged by
the fruit it produces.
But I want to make one preliminary remark.
My faith must be judged by the fruit it really
produces. If you belonged to a firm, you would
not like to have its work judged by the sam-
ples from the hand of prentice, bungler, or
shirker. You would say, " No, that's not
fair: take the work of the best men."
We in the Christian Church have got appren-