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men Quakers or Catholics, Unitarians or Baptists, there would be
much less diversity of thought, character, and life, less of truth
active in the world, than now. But Christianity gives us the largest
liberty of the sons of God; and were all men Christians after the
fashion of Jesus, this variety would be a thousand times greater
than now; for Christianity is not a system of doctrines, but rather
a method of attaining oneness with God. It demands, therefore, a
good life of piety within, of purity without, and gives the promise
that whoso does God's will shall know of God's doctrine.




NORMAN MACLEOD, the eminent Scotch preacher, was born at
Campbeltown, in Argyleshire, in 1812. In his preaching he departed
from the rigid conventionality of the Scottish Church. His
large vision and broad culture gave unusual distinction both to
his writings and to his pulpit oratory. He was conspicuous for
philanthropic efforts, and frequently held evening services for
workingmen. He distinguished himself by his popular Christian
writing and by his pulpit oratory. He was practical and manly, of
godly nature, with extreme adaptability, and greatly esteemed by
Queen Victoria, who made him her chaplain in 1857. He died in 1872.




[2] Printed here by permission of the publishers, Messrs. Wm.
Blackwood & Sons.

_Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall
believe on me through their word;_

_That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that
thou hast sent me._ - John xvii., 20, 21.

"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and
said, Father, the hour is come!" The hour was indeed come for which
the whole world had been in travail since creation, and which was
for ever to mark a new era in the history of the universe. The hour
was come when, having finished the work given Him to do, He was to
return to His Father, but only after ending His earthly journey
along the awful path on which He was now entering, and which led
through Gethsemane, the cross, and the grave. At such a moment in
His life He lifted up His eyes in perfect peace, from the sinful
and sorrowful world, to the heavens glorious in their harmony and
soothing in their silence, and said, "Father!" One feels a solemn
awe, as if entering the holy of holies, in seeking to enter into
the mind of Christ as exprest in this prayer. Never were such words
spoken on earth, never were such words heard in heaven. I ask no
other evidence to satisfy my spirit that they are the truth of God
than the evidence of their own light, revealing as it does the
speaker as being Himself light and life, who verily came from God
and went to God.

But let me in all reverence endeavor to express a few thoughts,
as to the general meaning of this prayer, with reference more
especially to that portion of it which I have selected as the
subject of my discourse.

The one all-absorbing desire of our Lord, as here exprest - the
ultimate end sought to be realized by Him - is that God might be
glorified as a Father, and that by the world seeing His love
revealed in sending His Son into the world to save sinners. "God
is love," but "In this was manifested the love of God toward us,
because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we
might live through him" - a love which, when spiritually seen and
possest by us, is itself life eternal; for "This is life eternal
that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom
thou hast sent;" but "He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God
is love."

All "religion" accordingly, all good, all righteousness, peace,
joy, glory, to man and to the universe, are bound up in this one
thing, knowing God as a Father. Out of this right condition of love
to God, must necessarily come our right condition towards man,
that of love to man as a brother with special love, the love of
character, to Christian brethren. Such a religion as this was never
possest as an idea even by the greatest thinkers among the civilized
heathen nations; far less was it realized by any. Whatever knowledge
many had about God, they knew Him not as a Father to be loved and
trusted, and therefore obeyed. When St. Paul addrest the Athenians,
he could find such a thought exprest by a poet only, who had said,
"We are also His offspring." It is only in the line of supernatural
revelation of God to man, as given to and received by Abraham, "the
friend," and perfected by Christ the Son, that this knowledge of
God has been possest by man. But even among those to whom this true
revelation was given about God, how few truly knew Him!

The want of this religion, whatever else might exist that was called
by that name, was the complaint made by God against His people of
old, "They do not know me!" "They proceed from evil to evil," He
cries, for "they know not me, saith the Lord." "Through deceit they
refuse to know me, saith the Lord;" and again: "Thus saith the Lord,
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty
man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches;
but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and
knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness,
judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I
delight, saith the Lord." (Jer. ix., 23, 24.)

This was the sorrowing cry of Christ, "O righteous Father, the world
hath not known thee!" This was His joy, "I have known thee, and
these have known that thou hast sent me!"

But if Christ desired that His Father's name should be glorified,
how was this to be accomplished? By what medium, or means? Now I
would here observe that God's method of revealing Himself to man has
ever been to do so by living men; and the Bible is a true record of
such revelations in the past. Christianity is not the philosophy of
life, but life itself; and is a revelation, not of abstract truth,
but of the living personal God to living persons as His children,
whom He hath created to glorify and enjoy Him for ever. The first
grand medium of this revelation is the eternal Son of God. The very
essence of God's character being love, He did not exist from all
eternity with a mere capacity of loving, but without an object to
love; like an eye capable of seeing light, but with no light to
see. The object of His love was His Son, who from all eternity
responded to that love and rejoiced in His Father. This eternal
Son, when manifested in the flesh, revealed His Father directly,
so that He could say, in all He was, and in all He did, and, in a
true sense, in all He suffered, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the
Father;" and men could say of Him, "We beheld His glory, the glory
as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;"
"The glory of God" was "in the face of Jesus Christ." Again, He had
also, as the Son of Man, glorified His Father; and, by His reverence
for, confidence in, and obedience to, Him, and by His joy in Him,
had indirectly revealed what he knew God to be to Him and to all
as a Father. "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished
the work which Thou gavest me to do." Such was His finished work.
But something more was yet to be accomplished. Ere He descends to
Gethsemane, He desires anew to have the joy of revealing a Father's
heart by revealing to the world His own heart of love as a Son to
that Father. Hence His prayer, "Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also
may glorify thee." He does not prescribe the new circumstances in
which His long-tried and perfect filial confidence and love as a
Son were to be manifested. With the absolute consecration of true
sonship He leaves these circumstances to be determined by His
Father. Now, as on the cross, He commits His spirit, as a little
child, into His Father's hands. He desires only that in any way, by
any means, He may have the joy of showing forth the reality, the
endurance, and the triumph of His Sonship. His Father may fill His
cup according to His own will, the Son will drink it. The Father
may permit a crown of thorns to be placed on His brow, and every
conceivable horror of great darkness from the hate of men and devils
to be cast over Him like a funeral-pall; He may be rejected by all
His brethren and by the Church and by the State - "Amen!" He cries.
Let His body be broken and His blood shed, He will give thanks! One
thing only He prays for, "Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may
glorify thee!" As a further end to be accomplished, He prays that
He may have the joy of making others share the same divine love and
joy, and therefore adds, "As thou hast given him power over all
flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast
given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

But while He as the Son was to be the first revealer of God the
Father, He was not, therefore, to be the only revealer. He was
the firstborn of many brethren in whom the same love was to be
reproduced, and by whom the same high duty was to be performed. If
the light of the glory of God shone directly in the face of Jesus
Christ, that light was to be transmitted to those who were to shine
as lights in the world, that others seeing them might glorify the
same God. For now, as ever, God in a real sense manifests Himself
in the flesh. Hence our Lord's desire that His brethren should, as
sons, reveal the Father, like Himself the Son. He says accordingly,
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them
into the world." Sent whom? Not apostles only, but those also who
should believe through their word; not ministers of the Church only,
but members also; all, in short, who were qualified to convince the
world that God was a Father, by convincing it of this truth, that
God had sent His Son to save sinners - the "faithful saying, worthy
of all acceptation."

But the question is further suggested, What is this qualification?
What is this which men must possess in order to accomplish Christ's
purpose of inducing the world to believe? What is this evidence of
Christianity which they are to present to the eyes of unbelieving
men, by seeing which these are to know and glorify God as their
Father in Christ? We reply, it is the oneness of those who are to
be ambassadors from God and fellow-workers with Christ. "I pray for
them," He says, and not for them only, but "for them also who shall
believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou,
Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us; that
the world may believe that thou hast sent me."

Now this leads me to consider more particularly the nature of this
oneness which is essential for such a successful mission as will
convince the world of the truth of Christ's mission from the Father.
What is meant by this oneness, or this union?

We are guided in our inquiry by three features which characterize
it. First, It is a oneness such as subsists between Christ and God;
secondly, It is a oneness which can be seen or appreciated; thirdly,
It is a oneness which is calculated from its nature to convince the
world of the truth of Christ's mission.

Now there are many kinds of union among men, which, however
wonderful or excellent, may be set aside as obviously not fulfilling
these conditions, and not such, therefore, as Christ prayed for.
There is, e. g., the unity of an army which marches as one man,
implicitly obeying its commander even unto death and without a
question. Yet, however grand this is, and however illustrative of
the character of good soldiers of Jesus Christ, it does not fulfil
the conditions specified. Nor does the wonderful unity of a State,
which makes and imposes laws, proclaims war or peace, administers
justice, and executes its judgments. In neither case is there any
union such as subsists betwixt God and Christ; nor such as is
in any sense adapted to convince the world that God has sent His
Son to save sinners. The same may be alleged of any outward and
visible unity of a body of men which might be called a Church. Its
organization might be as wonderful, and its members as disciplined,
and its power as remarkable, as those of an army; it might be held
together like a state by its laws and its enactments, its rewards
and punishments, and might energetically advance until it possest
the dominion of the world, and attracted such attention as that all
men might marvel at it; its members might assent to all the details
of a creed however large; the same rights and ceremonies and modes
of worship might be repeated throughout all its parts; and it might
be able to continue its organized existence from age to age, - yet it
would by no means follow that any such system, however remarkable,
possest that inward spiritual unity desired in Christ's prayer, no
more than the compact unity of Brahminism does, nor the still more
extraordinary unity of Buddhism, with its temples, its priesthood,
its creed, its rites and ceremonies, continuing unchanged during
teeming centuries, and dominating over hundreds of millions of the
human race. May not all these and many similar unities be fully
and satisfactorily accounted for by principles in human nature,
altogether irrespective of the fact of a supernatural power having
come into the world to which their origin or continuance is owing?
For there is a oneness in the churchyard as well as in the church.
There might be a oneness of assent amongst a deaf multitude with
regard to the beauty of music, because determined by the fiat of
authority, but not as the result of hearing and of taste; and the
same kind of oneness of judgment as to the beauty of pictures, on
the part of those who were blind. Unity alone proves nothing, apart
from its nature and its origin.

There is but one kind of unity or oneness which fulfils the
specified conditions, and that is, oneness of character or of
spiritual life - in one word, the oneness of love; - for this is the
highest condition of a personal spirit. It is such love as God had
and has to Christ; "That the love wherewith thou has loved me may
be in them;" such love as the Son has to the Father, and such as He
manifested to His disciples that very evening when, conscious of
His divine glory, and "knowing that he was come from God, and went
to God," He girded Himself with a towel and washed His disciples'
feet. Hence the declaration, "The glory," that is, of character,
"which thou gavest me I have given them, that they," through its
possession, "may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in
me." Hence again His saying, "They are not of the world, even as I
am not of the world;" and His prayer, "I pray not that thou shouldst
take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from
the evil." Such love as this, when in the soul of ordinary men, does
not originate in their own hearts, however naturally benevolent or
affectionate these may be. Our Lord in this prayer recognizes it
as inseparable from faith in His own teaching, and from personal
conviction of the truth which they themselves were to preach; for
they had received His words, and had "known surely that I came out
from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me"; and so
He prays, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."

Now, if we would divide, as with a prism, this pure light of love,
we might discern it as being composed, as it were, of at least two
colors, or features - first, love to God, exprest in the desire that
He should be known; secondly, love to man, exprest in self-sacrifice
that all should share this true love. But these very features we
discern as first existing in God the Father and in Christ the Son;
for God desires, from the necessity of His own nature, that He
should be known, and that all His rational creatures should see
the glory of His character, and, in seeing it, should live. God
has also manifested His love, according to the law of love, by
giving and by self-sacrifice, inasmuch as He "spared not his own
Son, but delivered him up for us all." In like manner, the Son
desired that His Father might be known, and to accomplish this He
became incarnate. He has manifested His love also in the form of
self-sacrifice, in that His whole life and death were an offering
up of Himself as a sacrifice unto God, and as an atonement for the
sins of the world, in order that all men might be made partakers
of His own eternal life in God. This, too, is the "mind" of the
Holy Spirit, for He glorifies the Son, that the Son may glorify the
Father, and glorifies Him in and by His true Church. Hence, wherever
true love exists in man, it will manifest itself in these two forms;
it will ever desire that God may be known, and will never "seek its
own," but sacrifice itself that this end may be attained. In such
oneness as this of mind, spirit, character - in one word, love - there
is realized the first condition of that oneness for which our Lord

Secondly, This unity of character fulfils the second condition in
its being such as the world can in some degree see and appreciate.
Blind as the world is, it can see love in the form of self-sacrifice
at least, seeking its good, even tho it may not at once see in
this a revelation of such love as has its origin in the love of
God to man. The world's heart can perceive more things and greater
things than can its intellect. The child of the statesman or man
of science may not be able to comprehend the world-politics of the
one or the scientific discoveries of the other; but it can see and
feel the love revealed in the glance of the eye, in the smile on
the lips, or in the arms that clasp it to the bosom; and in seeing
this, it sees an infinitely greater thing than the politics of the
one or the scientific discoveries of the other. It sees, too, in
this, tho unconsciously, the love of the Father's heart which fills
the universe with glory, even as its eye, when opened to a little
light, sees the same light which illumines a thousand worlds. And
thus can the world see the light of love. Those who are in prison,
in nakedness, or in thirst, are quite able to see and to appreciate
the love that, for Christ's sake, visits them, clothes them, and
gives them drink. The wretched lepers in the lazar-house, into which
no one could enter and ever return to the world, could see and
appreciate the love of the Moravian missionary who visited them,
and who shut the door for ever between him and all he knew and
loved, that he might share and alleviate the horrors of his wretched
brethren whom he loved more than all. Blind as the world is, it can
see this or nothing; bad as it is, it can appreciate this goodness
or none.

Thirdly, Such a character is calculated also to convince the world
that God has sent Christ to save sinners. Observe again what is
our Lord's idea of the mission which was to convert the world; it
is this, that those whom He sends, even as God had sent Himself,
whether as apostles or as disciples, should give to their fellow men
what they have first received from their living Head, Jesus Christ.
They were to give "the words" which they received from Him, and
which He had received from God - they were to give "the truth" which
they received from Him, and which He Himself had glorified in His
life and death, that God had sent Him to be the Savior of the world.
They were also to manifest that life which they had received from
Him, and which He had received from God, and which in them was the
necessary result of their faith. Now, it is in the seeing of this
life in those who proclaim the truth that the truth itself appears
worthy of all acceptation, and that God verily, who has sent His Son
to save sinners, is love. It is thus, you perceive, that the mission
of the Church, whether of its ministers or its members, is not only
to preach glad tidings, but to show their reality in their actual
results; not only to preach salvation, but to preach it by saved
men; not only to preach eternal life, but to preach it by those who
possess it; not only to preach about a Father, but to reveal also
that Father through His regenerated sons, who themselves know and
love Him. Further, the idea of a Church is that of a society whose
members are united through faith in the same truth, and are in
possession of the same life. Such a society necessarily springs out
of faith and love, and its members cannot choose but unite outwardly
because united inwardly. Our Lord assumes its future existence and
provides for its continuance. A Church realizing Christ's ideal
would, therefore, possess, as its creed this, at least, of believing
Christ's words, and the truth that "God had sent his Son to be the
Savior of the world." For "every spirit that confesseth not that
Christ hath come in the flesh is not of God." "And whosoever shall
confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in
God." Its initiatory sacrament, that of baptism, does but express
the nature of this society - viz., that its members are the children
of God the Father through Christ the Son, and by the indwelling of
the Holy Spirit - their character being a spiritual baptism into the
possession of "God's name," which is "love."

Another characteristic of it is their possession of that eternal
life which is exprest as well as maintained by the "communion" in
which its members meet together as brethren, their bond of union
being a common union with God in Christ and one another, through
the constant partaking of Him, the living bread; eating His flesh
and drinking His blood - that is, His whole life of self-sacrifice
and love becoming a part of their very being. Worship in spirit
and in truth is also necessarily involved in the idea of such a
society; and I might add, worship, not from a command merely, but
as a necessary result of spiritual character, becoming in a true
sense "infallible" as to religion; but religion in this sense, - that
of knowing God because of its members being able to say, "We know
that he dwelleth in us, and we in him, because he hath given us
his Spirit, and we know and testify that he sent his Son to be
the Savior of the world." Such a Church would likewise, in a true
sense, have an apostolical succession - that is, a succession of
teachers and members who had the apostolic spirit, or the oneness as
described by our Lord; for it would be able, from its possessing the
Spirit of God, to discern those who were like-minded, and to select
such as were specially fitted for the work of the ministry. This is
the ideal of the Church.

But has such a Church been realized? Has there ever been a visible
organized body of men who carried out this sublime purpose? Once,
indeed, there was. For we perceive, more or less clearly, all these
features in the early Church when it had received the Spirit on the
day of Pentecost, and when its members met together and "had all
things in common," and manifested such sonship towards God, and
brotherhood towards each other; and sent forth everywhere its public
minister and its members also to bring men into the same blessed
unity. But supposing the ideal had no more been realized since that
time than God's ideal as described by Moses had been fully realized
in the Jewish Church; - yet must the ideal, nevertheless, be ever
kept before the spiritual eye. For we do not produce high art by
keeping a low rather than a high standard before the artist; neither
can we reach to great things in the Church unless we keep a high
standard before its members. It is unnecessary here to inquire how
it came to pass that the Church, to such a great extent, lost this
ideal as one visible society, and became so corrupt as to substitute
innumerable vain appearances of spiritual realities for that which
alone could satisfy a true and righteous God. But as things now are,
the "Church" is broken up into various "churches" or societies,
striving more or less to realize the ideal. Each society does so
just in proportion as it is able to carry out our Lord's purpose
as to its ministry being one in faith, believing Christ's words,
in its knowing truly that He came from God to save sinners, and in
its seeking, from love to God and man, to make all men know their
Father, in the knowledge of whom is salvation.

But to confine myself to our own particular duties, let me remind
you, fathers and brethren, of our high calling as profest ministers
of Christ's Church. The cry of earnest souls, weary of their many

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Online LibraryVariousThe World's Great Sermons, Volume 5: Guthrie to Mozley → online text (page 10 of 13)