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the nations, baptizing them into the name (the character)
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com-
manded you (the whole law of love).

How were the disciples so to live that they might carry
out Christ's work for the redemption of the world, and in
their lives manifest the Father, showing what God's
character is, as Christ had done ?

Were they all, like their Master, to leave their homes,
and all to go forth to preach the Gospel, not having where
to lay their heads ; striving each to live under the same
outward conditions as He had done, that so they might
draw all men to God ?

The disciples had not so learnt Christ. For their Lord,
though making absolute claim to the first place in all His
followers' lives, had accepted many as true disciples while
they carried on the ordinary duties of life in their homes.
He had honoured holy marriage by His presence and first
miracle and declared it to be ordained of God. But by
His command of complete self-renunciation He had marked
it with His Cross. Christian marriage must be ' in the
Lord ', that is, grounded in self-sacrificing love. The
true husband and wife learning to give all first to the



Lord, and then, in Him, to each other ; the true father
and mother giving all to God and then for their children.
So Christian home-life becomes the training-ground and
example of the love that is to prevail in the wider circle,
of the whole community, the Christian nation, and at last
of all mankind as the one family of God. Such love puts
God's law of holiness and self-sacrifice first, under all
circumstances. No father may break the law of righteous-
ness for the advantage of his family ; no patriot may place
the self-interest of his country above the law of love.

Our thoughts go back to the beautiful picture of the
first Christian community-life as our Lord Himself had
arranged for it, in its love and glad giving. So it was that
the heathen caught a vision of supernatural life, and
exclaimed, ' See how these Christians love one another ! '
And Christ's word was fulfilled, ' By this shall all men
know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one for
another.' For most of Christ's followers the way of
training in the life of love lies in the sanctities of the
family and home, and so they manifest the character of
the Father.

But as we reverently contemplate our Lord's life on
earth we are deeply conscious of that other side of it, which
not even the most beautiful family-life can reproduce and
set before men. He, who as the eternal Son of God
reckoned not even His divine prerogative of equality
with the Father a prize to be grasped, but, to fulfil His
Father's will of saving man, emptied Himself taking the
form of a bondservant ; emptied Himself also as Son of
Man, grasping none of the prizes of human life comfort,
riches, honour, power, success not even the dearest ties
of home. His was the life of one in the world, yet not of
this world, but always in the things of His Father, kept
by uttermost self-sacrifice entirely free from all entangle-
ment in the affairs of this life, that He might live only to


hear His Father's voice, and do His Father's will : this
was His meat, what He lived by, more to Him than His
necessary food.

Was this part of the great example not to be reproduced ?
Surely it was. For we find our Lord not only laying His
commands on some to leave all and follow Him, but
inviting others to follow Him of their own free choice in
the life of abstinence from marriage and of voluntary
poverty. And in this path, which the Church calls the
way of His Counsels (as distinguished from His absolute
commands), He teaches them also the one lesson of
perfect love, but through a different method of training.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew xix. 3-xx. 16, we have
a summary of our Lord's teaching on this way of life ; the
principles on which it must be based, and the temptations
to wrong ways of thought which must be guarded against.
Let us notice, very briefly, some main points.

He first proclaims the sacredness of marriage and its
indissolubility, ' What God hath joined together, let not
man put asunder.' Then, to a suggestion that it may be
good, an advantage, not to marry, He answers, ' All men
cannot receive this saying, but they to whom it is given.'
Those who are prevented, against their will, from marriage,
do not think their disability good. But there are some
who abstain from marriage not for any selfish reason, not
to have an easier life, but for the Kingdom of Heaven's
sake, that they may be free to give their whole thought
and strength to God's service. Of such He says, ' He that
is able to receive it, let him receive it/ Thus for this way
of life there must be the gift and calling of God, and
a whole-hearted response, which embraces the life of free-
will, and for no lower motive than the kingdom of heaven's
sake, the setting forward of God's reign of love.

Our Lord's next recorded words are, ' Suffer the little
children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of



such is the Kingdom of Heaven/ True members of the
kingdom, and so also true followers of this way, must
have the child-like heart with its love, and trust, and
utter absence of self-sufficiency. ' Are you able to drink
of My cup ; can you follow Me in this way of life ? ' The
true answer is that of childlike confident dependence,
' I can do all things, O Christ, my Lord, in Thee who
strengthenest me/ And it cannot fail to receive His

Then came the rich young man with his questions : first,
' Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have
eternal life ? ' The commands laid upon all are binding
upon all ; the answer is, ' If thou wouldest enter into life,
keep the commandments/ And then he says, ' All these
things have I observed : what lack I yet ? ' And this is
answered by the counsel, ' If thou wouldest be perfect, go,
sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have
treasure in heaven : and come, follow Me/ Follow Me ;
for, like marriage, property with all its duties and responsi-
bilities may not be renounced to make life easier, or with
a view to selfish advantage, but only that through the
renunciation the disciple may come closer to his Lord,
and share more fully in the divine life of self-sacrificing
love. Heavenly treasure, the promised reward, is a richer
share in the life of God, the perfect Giver. The divine
reward for giving is an increase in the power to give.

To all our Lord says, ' Whosoever renounceth not all
that he hath cannot be my disciple/ All the possessions
of every follower of Christ must be given to his Lord to be
marked with the Cross, made subject to the law of self-
sacrificing love. All must be used for his Lord as a sacred
trust, and not treated as a personal possession for selfish
using. But some disciples our Lord invites, as He did
this young man, to follow Him by the way He Himself
went, wholly free from the cares and anxieties which


even the right use of property entails ; free to wait upon
God, as the perfect Son did, without distraction.

St. Peter takes up the question of reward, and says,
' Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee ; what then
shall we have ? ' And our Lord not only promises great
reward to those first disciples who had followed Him
disinterestedly before his glory was manifested, but goes
on to speak generally of the reward of the life of self-
sacrifice, and of the true spirit of giving, that makes no
bargain for reward. ' Every one that hath left houses, or
brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or
lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold,
and shall inherit eternal life. But many shall be last that
are first ; and first that are last. (The judgement is not
according to man's judgement ; God looketh upon the
heart.) For the kingdom of heaven is like the house-
holder hiring labourers into his vineyard.'

God loves a joyous giver ; for He who is love, can
bestow Himself freely on him, and him only, whose soul
is open to the gift of love. The spirit of self-interest is the
very opposite of the love that pours itself out in giving ;
it cannot comprehend God's bounty. Selfishness jealously
scans its own and other's work done and reward received,
wanting not to give but to get. What part can the selfish
possibly have with those virgin souls who ' follow the
Lamb whithersoever He goeth ' : follow Him by the way
of utter self-sacrifice, the way of the cross, home to the
bosom of the Father ; on whose foreheads is written, as
the sign by which all may recognize them, their Lord's
name and the name of His Father, Love ?

For that name's sake they embrace the life of the
Counsels : not as despising marriage, or any of the good
gifts of God ; not shirking responsibilities ; not selfishly
seeking a salvation for themselves alone ; but in the
childlike glad response of trustful love to Him who says


to them, ' Come with Me '. With Me consecrate yourselves
for the sake of others ; with Me live as in the world, yet
not of the world ; with Me manifest Our Father's name
unto Our brethren, that they may have eternal life. So
shall We glorify the Father, accomplishing the work He
has given Us to do.

But ' Religious ' may fall far short of these high ideals.

Alas ! yes. Salt may lose its savour, and have to be
cast out. Yet that does not make it an advantage that
there should be no salt.


Let us now, very briefly, look at the great types of
disciplined life which God raised up to uphold Christianity
at crises of attack by the world, the flesh, and the devil ;
and then trace in the order of their development and in
the ever-widening range of their scope the evident work of
the Holy Spirit, leading Christ's disciples onward into all
the truth. For we still have to go not backward but
forward, as we follow on to know the full meaning of those
Counsels which our Blessed Lord gave, and still gives, to
those who are able to receive them.

For the first three centuries those dedicated with the
Church's blessing to the unmarried state lived in their own
homes. And Christians were a small but widely-spread
brotherhood, continually sifted by persecution. But after
the edict of Constantine, A. D. 315, thousands poured into
the Church, calling themselves Christians, yet often
clinging to heathen ways, and very far from the martyr
spirit that would lay down life itself for Christ. The
whole Christian society was in danger of being swallowed
up in the horrible corruption of the decadent Roman
world. Then it was that God put it into the heart of
St. Anthony (d. 355) and the hermits to leave all that is
in the world, and go apart into the wilderness, and show


that man lives not by bread alone, but by the word of God.
The hermits succeeded the martyrs as new witnesses to
the truth of the unseen things that are eternal.

Two centuries later barbarian hordes swept over the
western provinces, and Roman civilization and ordered
government went down before them. But in desert places
and lonely islands a new form of common-life had come
into being. St. Benedict (480-543) had gathered monks
into families to live an ordered life under rule. It was
from these men, who were then called emphatically ' men
of religion ', that the new races who were to become the
rulers of the western world, gained a vision of the noble-
ness of a disciplined community-life of willing obedience
under fixed laws : a life as full of strenuous industry in
peace as the warrior's in war. The temptation to wonder-
working had been overcome ; the solitaries on their
pillars with their marvels of endurance had been suc-
ceeded by monasteries which were centres of disciplined

The thirteenth century was another time of crisis in
Christian history. Popular religion had become largely
external and mechanical. Bishops were great landowners ;
monasteries had had riches heaped on them ; Popes
grasped at temporal power. In order to obtain the
kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, the Church,
whose mark is ' Holiness to the Lord ', had begun to fall
at Satan's feet to worship him. Then St. Francis went
forth to claim Poverty as his bride, and all creatures of
God as his brothers. The deeper the need of the poor, the
ignorant, the degraded, the outcast, the more he loved to
serve them. Through the new orders of Friars founded
by St. Francis and St. Dominic began a true and deep
revival of personal religion all over Europe. Religion
went out from the Cloister.

These developments in the Religious Life follow no


chance order. They correspond, in due succession, with
the steps by which the Holy Spirit trained the Jewish
nation that it might be able to apprehend the divine
character when revealed in Christ.

The first call, like the call of Abraham, is to come apart.
To learn, as Dean Church says, ' that each soul stands
before the Everlasting by itself and for what it is : ' 1
the hermits' discipline of separation.

The next stage is the discipline of obedience ; the
bringing under a law which makes all feel one body, and
lays strong emphasis on duty : for the Jews the giving of
the Law, for the Religious the gathering into monasteries
under Rule.

This is succeeded by the stage of worship and teaching.
The psalmists and prophets of Israel are paralleled in
religion by the Contemplatives, who give us the great
hymns and the ' Imitation ' and the Friars, who go forth
to carry religion into the busy ways of men.

Then comes the time for new vision : for the Jews, the
manifestation in Christ of the divine character in it?
fulness ; for the Religious, new opportunities for studying
personally the record of that perfect life, when the
invention of printing put the Bible into all men's hands.
And so, for both Jew and Religious, the lesson of the great
and first commandment of love of God which to begin
with had been as it were isolated for their study is com-
pleted by the setting close to it of the ' second like unto
it ', love of man for God's sake.

Since then all new developments of the life of the
Counsels have aimed at perfecting the love of God through
the service of man for His sake. New communities of
priests, eager to follow in the steps of the great Shepherd
of souls, led the way, and soon great teaching and minis-
tering communities followed.

1 Discipline of the Christian Character, p. 22.


' This commandment have we from Him, that he who
loveth God love his brother also/ This world is our
training-place for learning to love as God loves. He is the
perfect Father who loves us, His forgetful, unthankful,
evil children, with the patient, self-sacrificing, forgiving
love that works redemption. When we aim only at loving
God Himself from whom we have received nothing but
good, the love that grows in us is of a quite different kind
from God's love ; it is the grateful, adoring love of one who
receives. It is only when for love of God we go on to try
really to love our brother (who fails in his conduct towards
us just as we fail towards God), that a love like God's own
love is developed in us : the love that beareth all things,
never faileth, gives all to redeem. Our Lord says, ' Ye
therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is

The Holy Spirit is still taking of the things of Christ, and
declaring them unto us. And the test of our faithfulness
lies not in our recognizing what He has shown to past
generations, but in our hearing what He is saying to
ourselves to-day.

As we saw, the motive for the ascetic life in our Lord,
and in all who truly follow Him in the way of the Counsels,
is to be free to hear the Father's voice. Let us end by
considering whether this aim has been realized in any
degree by the Religious. Have they so caught the divine
message that they have proved pioneers in the ways of
love ?

In love of God. Let us take the one instance of prayer.
The model for Christian prayer teaches us to give the first
half of our prayer-time to thinking not of ourselves, nor
of others, but of God. Is it not the Religious who have
firmly grasped this principle ? Are they not pioneers in
this way of prayer ? Not from Contemplatives alone
'but from the ministering societies goes up daily to God the


sevenfold offering of the Divine Office man's duty to
God in prayer. And does it hinder their work for others
' in the midst of busy occupation to pause, and for a few
moments to lie open and receptive, before the source of all
strength, and knowledge, and love ' ? 1

In love of Man. Surely the sick, the poor, the ignorant,
the aged, little children, lepers, serfs, galley-slaves,
prisoners, strangers, rise up and call them blessed.

In making disciples of all nations. ' My country is where
I can gather the largest harvest for Christ.' We see the
monks pouring forth from their monasteries to evangelize
the races that overran the Roman Empire, pressing on
till all Europe is brought to Christ ; the colonist-monks
of the Russian Church winning the wild tribes of the
steppes, and pressing on across all northern Asia ; the
great Roman missionaries in the sixteenth and seven-
teenth centuries going east to India, China, and Japan,
westward to South, Central, and North America ; we
read that at the present time the Roman Church alone has
22,000 Religious working in foreign missions. 2

' It is more blessed to give than to receive.' This word
of Christ appeals to what is deepest in man, to that likeness
of God in which he was created.

Lord open Thou mine eyes
that I may see the wondrous things of Thy law.

1 Bishop Westcott, Words of Faith and Hope, p. 40.

2 Weitbrecht-Stanton, Short Guide, p. 54.


(Union Theological College, Bangalore.)

THERE can be no standardizing of God's methods of
calling. 1 A thousand avenues to the human spirit lie open,
and His messenger may come down any one of them.
The sight of avoidable or relievable suffering, conscious-
ness of personal aptitudes, advice of friends, some particu-
lar coincidence of circumstances, all these things must play
their part in deciding a man's life work.

Yet in those alone, the call may be missing. That comes
with the sense that underneath and behind all these
considerations is something that is arranging the scene,
attracting the attention, beginning to make a demand,
and that something is divine. The student of mathe-
matics may put it this way : when the line of his life's
development reaches a point at which the arc of some
great need intersects the arc of opportunity, he has one
good hint as to how to dispose of his life. But when that
hint begins to feel like something more and to exercise
a real pressure on his power of choice, then it is time
seriously to try to find out if that pressure comes from
the hand of God.

Perhaps for most of us the practical question is one of
resistance to, or acceptance of, a strong pressure rather
than of leaping forward in answer to some clear call.
There is more of Jeremiah than of Isaiah in most of us.
We can see a great many things wrong that ought to be
righted, but it is hard to believe that our own particular

1 See Essays on Vocation. First Series. ' Vocation ', by Edward


little life can make any material difference. We hate to
take ourselves too seriously. And yet sometimes God
takes us seriously and the pressure is not relaxed. The
way of peace lies in recognizing in that pressure the divine
hand pushing us into the place where life can be most

' I wouldn't for the world be anywhere else.' How
often some such words as these came in letters written
from terrible surroundings to relatives in the comfortable
homes from which many soldiers went to the war. Why
were those men so sure that they were in the right place ?
It certainly was not that they could clearly see how the
war was going to work out. Nine out of ten men who
wrote home in that spirit could not, if they ever tried,
analyse into its component parts the compound of
motives which enabled them in such triumphant freedom
from care and anxiety to go through what they themselves
called hell. But this strong sense of being in the right
place turned the muddy soldier into a person whom we
reverence, and who stands to us as the real picture of
a modern saint, setting forth for us something which is at
the very heart of the Christian religion. He illustrated
the victorious peace and power of surrender to a pressure
which is obviously not that of personal gain.

The average missionary is not so much like a saint who
in youth has seen a glowing vision, heard a trumpet call,
and day by day travels in the radiance of his vision's glory,
stirred by fresh divine utterances. He is much more like
that soldier, if he were a Christian soldier, who knew that
God lay within the whole complex of things that had
brought him to the trenches. At his heart is the same
kind of peace.

There have been no doubt a few men and women whose
course seemed clearly marked out from childhood. The
boy of fourteen has quietly told his parents that he means


to be a missionary doctor, and has never afterwards
swerved from that purpose. There is no reason why such
things should not happen, and parents need not be too
anxious when they do. Mere boyish enthusiasm will be
put to very severe tests, not excluding the disagreeable
tests of examinations, before the purpose can be realized.
If it stands them all, then the boyish enthusiasm was one
of the things which God used for a voice, and happy are
those who hear that voice early and have no misgivings
as to which is their right path. But they are the fortunate
exceptions. Most of us at a later stage in education have
to wrestle with the problem, ' What constitutes a definite
call to work as a missionary ? What is the kind of
pressure which ought to send young people away from
their own countries to live a life of full-time religious
service among people of another race ? '

Let us think for a moment of the beginning of the
missionary enterprise, when Barnabas and Saul were
dedicated to it. As we try to picture what is narrated
for us at the beginning of Acts xiii, we see what might
very well have appeared to an outside observer to be
a somewhat eccentric proceeding. A little group of
persons under the influence of the divine enthusiasm sends
out two of its number into the world to do some undefined
work. Those two set out ' sent thus by the Holy Spirit '.
The whole thing looked as insignificant as it was eccentric.
But we see it now in another light ; we see that the world
had been prepared to receive the Christian religion. The
Roman Government had unified the world that lay
around the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek language had
provided a common medium of intercourse. Jewish
synagogues all along the lines of trade had prepared the
way for the belief in the one true God. The missionary
enterprise began ' in the fullness of time '. Not only so,
but the new religion of Christianity was just beginning to


discover itself. Out of the chrysalis of Judaism it was
emerging with wings, as a universal religion. That
insignificant-looking action of the few men in Antioch
marks a turning-point in the whole world's history. In
simply yielding to a spiritual pressure, probably only
dimly understood, they had provided the keystone for
an arch on which God's building of the future of humanity
was to rest. It is an illustration of how acts that appear
far from sensational can be of the first importance because
they fit into God's plan. It may seem absurd to you to
make a fuss about your individual life, but that life may
be the cog on which some enormous machine must turn,
and the engineer knows better than the cog how much it
is worth in its right place.

We can easily imagine the story in those opening
verses of Acts xiii, written by a modern historian of
missions in a very different way. Writing up the story
so as to appeal to modern readers, he might have pictured
that group of Christians in Antioch facing the condition
of the Roman world in their day. There was the awful
need of the slaves, deprived of human rights ; the pathetic

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Online LibraryA. (Arthur) Clutton-BrockEssays on vocation → online text (page 3 of 6)