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aster Secret






Master Secret









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I. The Master Secret, - - - - 9

II. The Master Motive, - - - 26

III. The Master Word, - - - - 38

IV. Vision and Task, - - - - 51

V. An Ancient Psalm of Life, - - 64

S VI. Christianity and the Supernat-
ural, 84

. e


If the Christian revelation had no other
consequence than to impress us that in the
sight of Heaven all that is essentially hu-
man is infinitely precious, that result alone
would leave the Christian religion of ines-
timable value to the world.

Could any teaching be more explicit
than the teaching of Jesus upon this mat-
ter? ''The very hairs of your head are
numbered. Fear not, ye are of more value
than many sparrows," and "not one of
them is forgotten in the sight of God."
Jesus took a "little child and set him in the
midst" of His disciples, and from the
child taught at once the simplest and the
deepest truth — the ultimate worth in the
sight of God of unspoiled human trust and
human love. Humanit}^ becomes skeptical
as to its own worth fulness, and cynical and
cruel. Jesus brings us back to an apprecia-
tion of the value of whatever is essentially
human. In contrast with the cynical in-
difference with which pharisaical hardness



of heart looked upon a "woman that was a
sinner," Jesus with chivalrous courtesy
and delicacy lifted into esteem for evermore
the value of a person. Humanity can
never forget His word, "Neither do I
condemn thee; go and sin no more."

The watchword of humanity in its
progress towards the light of a new day is
taken from the Hps of Jesus, "Ye are of
. . . value."

There is no argument for the greatness
of man like the fact of the greatness of his
need. The humblest of men, kicked and
buffeted by his fellows and by his fate,
little esteemed, and finding it difficult to
lift his head in self-respect, nevertheless
needs for the satisfaction of his life, truth
and immortality, love and God. His need
has imperial proportions. Nothing less
than Heaven and divinity can appease his
hunger of soul. No values less than eternal
can satisfy him.

Some years in the ministry and other
years in contact with student life in college
work have led me through an increasingly
sympathetic study of the "problem of
human life" to appreciate the incomparable



value of the method of the Master in dis-
covering the values of life.

In part the thoughts contained in these
pages have found expression in college
chapel talks and in the pulpit of Central
Avenue Church. The reception they have
there received leads me to hope that they
may find an equally generous and kindly
reception by the larger audience to which
they are now addressed.

One chapter, "An Ancient Psalm of
Life," takes up an Old Testament char-
acter and a psalm as showing the funda-
mental harmony between the old and new

The chapter on "Christianity and the
Supernatural" is republished by permis-
sion from the Methodist Review.

Albert Boynton Storms.
Central Avenue Methodist Episcopal Churchy

Indianapolis, Ind.

The Master Secret

The Master Secret

"All alone — alone,
God shall speak to thee out of the sky.

The years will bring us hastening to their goal,
A little more of calmness, and of trust,
With still the old, old doubt of death and dust,

And still the expectancy within the soul.

O Father, as we go to meet the years,

We ask not joy that fame or pleasure brings,
But some calm knowledge of the sum of
things —

A hint of glory glimmering over tears;

That he, who walks with sanction from Thy hand
Some token of its presence may have seen, '
Beneath which we may tread the path serene

xnto the stillness of the unknown land." (Sill.)

" I have trodden the winepress alone." — Isaiah
63: 3.

This is the cry of a soul that reaches us
out of the far past. "I have trodden the
wine press alone." The cry has in it the
pathos of a great sorrow, and strikes the



deepest chord in the human heart. A
human voice, rich and resonant, may
awaken sympathetic response from the
chords of a harp, thus creating its own ac-
companiment. And so the appeal of a
noble grief is profound and universal.

It is one of the paradoxes of life that
Sorrow, which we treat as an enemy, from
which we shrink, and which we seek to
banish, counting ourselves happy only
when Sorrow is absent — that unwelcome
Sorrow is yet the angel that opens the
heart to life's most precious treasures.

The memory of a great sorrow is cher-

The literature that is immortal strikes
this deep note. Priam's grief as sung by
Homer, David's lament for his son, Riz-
pah's sleepless vigilance as she frightened
away the beasts of prey in the night and
the vultures by day in her lonely watch
upon the rock of Gilboa, where her sons
hung in judicial expiation for the sins of
Saul; Job's soul-cry in the anguish of un-
certainty as to the goodness of God, never
lose the powder of their appeal to the human
heart. It is the appeal of Sorrow. "Deep
calleth unto deep."



The vision recorded in Isaiah is set in
the time of the captivity. No people, ever
identified themselves with the ideals and
the future of their nation more absolutely
than the Hebrews. That the citizen ex-
isted for the State was a familiar and a
commanding idea among the ancients.
The Greek found his personal worthful-
ness, his individual definition, in his citi-
zenship. Apart from his city or his State
he would have lost significance. He lived
for the State. There was an elegance, a
splendor about Greek patriotism that has
never been equaled elsewhere. The Ro-
man, too, with his stoical devotion to the
State as the embodiment of law and au-
thority, developed a patriotism not unlike
that of the modern Japanese. Patriotism
thus becomes a kind of stern religion. The
individual counts not his life dear unto
himself if its sacrifice will add to the glory
of the State or help to maintain and to
vindicate the political ideals of his State.
Modern Western peoples have developed a
similar passionate patriotism for the State
as the expression of the ideals of liberty.

The Hebrews, the race chosen to bring
to humanity its noblest religious ideas,



the race with a genius for God, conceived
the State as a theocracy. Jehovah was
their super-sovereign. And Jehovah had
a great purpose to be achieved through His
chosen people. The humblest Hebrew
shared in the glory of the divine purpose.
Through this people God was to shine upon
the nations. Inevitably they came to
identify the national life, the stability and
power of their government with the in-
tegrity and strength of the divine purpose.
To them it was incredible that their nation
should not be preserved. Their prophets
had one supreme and never-ending task —
it was to hold this people to humility of
spirit and to their religious ideals. The
tendency was strong to become fanatically
over-confident, nationally selfish, politi-
cally arrogant, and religiously as intolerant
as superficial.

When the Hebrew nation was humil-
iated before the nations and left crushed
and bleeding in the dust, her great prophets
saw in this the discipline of Jehovah. The
ideals of the Hebrews should not perish.
The nation should be purged and purified.
A "remnant" should carry forward the
divine purpose. The prophets had the



saving salt of "idealism." They conceived
the nation vividly as a person, as a ," suf-
fering servant of Jehovah."

There then arose before Israel's great
prophet the sublimest ideal vision that ever
filled the soul of a seer with divine afflatus.
Out of the bruised nation there arises be-
fore his vision One whose ''face was so
marred, more than the face of any man,"
that men were "astonied" at Him. They
"esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God,
and afflicted." And it seemed as though
He should be "cut off" with none left to
perpetuate Him or "to declare His gener-
ation." Yet a more marvelous conception
supersedes this, of One "despised and re-
jected of men; a Man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief: and as One from
whom men hide their faces." The piteous
and repulsive and even hideous becomes
glorious in beauty and power.

A new truth is coming to view. This
Silent Sufferer, who "as a sheep before his
shearers is dumb," opening not His mouth,
has saving power. It pleased the Lord to
"bruise Him," to "put Him to grief." Out
of this deep humiliation shall spring an
immortal power that shall make the kings



of the earth "shut their mouths" before
Him in awe. "He shall see of the travail
of His soul and shall be satisfied." "Surely
He hath borne our griefs and carried our
sorrows. . . . He was wounded for
our transgressions. He was bruised for
our iniquities; the chastisement of our
peace was upon Him ; and with His stripes
we are healed. All we, like sheep, have
gone astray; we have turned every one
to his own way; and the Lord hath laid
on Him the iniquity of us all." This one
shall indeed "divide" a "portion with the
great, and the spoil with the strong."*

So the vision in the sixty-third of
Isaiah is of one that cometh from Edom
with dyed garments from Bozrah. Out
from the South the prophet sees a Deliverer
coming, not with an army, but alone.
From the ruins of Jerusalem with desolated
temple and cruel humiliation the seer be-
holds a Redeemer approaching, swaying
forward not as one who staggers in weak-
ness, but as one who is invincible in power.

And the One is heard to say, "I have
trodden the wine press alone."

There is here not alone the boast of

* Isaiah 53.



single-handed victory, but the cry of a
great and noble sorrow. This Man of the
prophet's vision has entered the Great
Solitude where the soul must meet Duty
and Destiny and God alone.

The noblest of the redmen used to send
their youth singly and alone into the soli-
tudes and the silences, there for days and
nights to remain silent under the stars that
they might become aware of the Great
Spirit and of their own souls.

It would be well if, far more than we
do, we, too, could send our youth into the
solitude and the silence. In the desire for
seclusion, often interpreted as moodiness
of young people as they come face to face
with the great change from youth to
maturity, in facing the mystery of life,
there should be opportunity for self-knowl-
edge, self-reverence, and self-mastery.

The secret that lies deeply in the
Method of the Master is the secret of rever-
ence for one's own soul, and reverence for
God. Out of these reverences springs the
complementary reverence for other people's
souls. All hopeful and sound social phi-
losophy must take up this principle of
reverence for the person. And it is in the



Sinaitic solitudes and silences that men
grow reverent and independent and suf-
ficient. Only as men become aware of
God and of their own souls can they stand
upon their own feet and hear intelligently
the voice of the Lord.

We hear much to-day about socializing
industry, about the social state, and about
the social significance of Christianity.

As a recognition of the diffusion of the
Spirit of Christianity and of the increasing
complexity of the industrial, economic, and
political relations of the age, this has
significance. But there is the greater need
of grasping the truth that life is essentially

All social relationships, however im-
portant, are yet superficial compared witli
the soul's own individuality. Individual-
ism is the deepest philosophy of life. Indi-
vidualists we must all be or become flotsam
and jetsam. The social powers of men lie
in the fact that as individuals they stand
independent and above mere relationships
and can both criticise and control them.
Socialism, in the sense of an absolute
principle, is self-destructive. Society can
be Christian and enduring only as its



members become independent and intelli-
gent enough to make society Christian,
through the adoption of the spirit of social
service; not by reversing the process and
expecting to make men Christian by social-
izing industry and by the aid of social
institutions. However much value may
be attached to wholesome environment,
environment can not create anything — it
can only offer favorable soil in which living
seed may spring to fruitage. A spiritual
desert will never produce the fruits of
righteousness, however much it may be
tilled and watered.

We need to come back to the everlast-
ing truth that the Soul and God alone
stand sure.

It would be well if we could restore the
significance of individual conversion as the
initiation of individual religious life.

The outward accompaniments, visible
phenomena, the tragic experiences are not
essential. We could no more restore the
camp-meeting of one hundred years ago,
with its "bodily exercises," which in them-
selves profited little, than the rude social
customs of the frontier.

But when the deep seriousness of the
2 17


soul's personal approach to God was lost
or dimmed, spiritual life began to lose its
definite and distinctive character. A so-
cialized Christianity tends to vagueness.
The profound personal conviction of re-
lationship with God is blurred. Religion
becomes a mild altruism, good-natured, but
lacking both in clearness of vision and
strength of conviction.

The mere seeking of the external as-
pects of intense spiritual experiences may
become in the highest degree artificial, a
sort of pretense, a play. But the bleaching
of religion out into commonplace morality
and mere decency of living is to rob re-
ligion of any deep significance or compell-
ing power and to blur the eternal issues of
life. As a matter of conventions merely,
the tendency to sag is irresistible.

Religion may of necessity find its ex-
pression in social service, but yet social
service is not religion. Religion is the
soul's conscious response to the Spirit and
the Will of God. The soul must stand
solitary before God to become self-con-

After all has been said that may be said
about the social significance of Christian-



ity, it still remains true that Jesus selected
a few individual men and sent them forth
with the leaven of the Kingdom in their
souls. This was and is the Method of the

And God's method of forging great
souls is the Master Secret of humanity.

After the most diligent industry has
dug up and sifted out all that may be found
in the heredity and environment of a great
man, the Master Secret still lies there in
the solitude of his own soul. How he met
the world and duty and God, and what
became the master motive of his life, that
is the master secret.

The transcendent interest of the Gos-
pels lies in this, that they contain a marvel-
ous revelation of the soul of Christ. Biog-
raphies in the ordinary sense the Gospels
are not. In the deeper sense, as a revela-
tion of the soul of their subject, the Gos-
pels are unequaled.

The Gospels afford a glimpse into the
holy of holies of the Virgin's soul. It seems
to me all discussion of the virgin birth, as
though this question could be raised and
considered in cold blood, as any piece of
historical criticism, borders upon profanity



and misses something essential, as life
itself in the research of the biologists.
Into the holy mystery of the soul of Mary
we are permitted to look. Reverence
alone becomes us.

Around the Bethlehem manger-cradle
and in the temple are groups of devout
souls that have vision for the glory of God.
At the age of twelve Jesus in the temple
utters a most significant word, "Wist ye
not that I must be about My Father's
business?" Nothing more until His public
ministry. A mass of detail that would fill
volumes might have been given to fill these
blank intervening pages and have served
only to confuse the signally significant
thing, the deep-lying motive, the soul-
secret, the true character of the indi-
viduality of Jesus.

Let us come near here, in deepest rev-
erence, to the power of motherhood in
forging the soul of the child. Mary's
maternal prayer has been treasured. Out
of the spiritual passion of her race she
voices the Magnificat. The spirit of
prophecy breathes through her. And in
that atmosphere Jesus came.

Again at the baptism, and in the temp-


tation, a soul-secret Is revealed. The atti-
tude of Jesus towards the Father'^ will,
and His attitude towards the subtle temp-
tations to world mastery by the methods
of the world, make His inner life as an
open book.

So also the prayers of Jesus treasured
for us as they were graven upon the minds
of His disciples who heard Him as He
prayed, or to whom He told the prayers
that were forged in His soul in the storm
and stress of His sorrow — the prayers of
Jesus given in the most generous and
sacred and divine confidence — constitute a
soul-revelation nowhere equaled.

So, too, the words from the Cross are a

And this is the method of God— the
Master Secret of humanity that out of the
disciple of solitude the soul shall come
with the beauty and strength of God.
For every soul must become like Christ.
Every soul must become a savior. Merely
to endure sorrow or temptation is not
enough. The use we make of life is the
main thing. We, too, must march breast-
forward as Jesus did. We, too, must
know His baptism.



Our personal sorrows are unbearable
because we meet them pettily and selfishly.
Out from every great sorrow, and our
deepest experiences are inseparably linked
with sorrow, we should come as Jesus did,
with faces chastened but smitten with the
light of eternal day. We have no right to
pass through any deep experience and
come forth less than when we entered
upon it. Not to crush and bruise and
weaken, but to strengthen and ennoble us,
is the disciphne of life given. ''The bruised
reed He will not break and the smoking
flax He will not quench."

It is a sin to meet sorrow and not be
made better by its touch. The strength
of God is promised, not merely that we
may somehow endure, but that we may be
"more than conquerors." We have the
right to pray, "Let the beauty of the Lord
our God be upon us." But the prayer can
not be answered unless our faces are lifted
to the skies. "All chastening seemeth for
the present to be not joyous but grievous;
yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit
unto them that are exercised thereby."

And this is the method of God, the
master secret of humanity.



"Then welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids not sit nor stand, but go;
Be our joys three parts pain;
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge
the throe."

The inner secret of a great life is always
of fascinating interest. It will never cease
to be of profound interest to seek an
answer to the question, **How did Lincoln
come to be?"

Here, too, we are given a glimpse into
soul secrets. He lost his mother when he
was but nine years old, but her influence
was ineffaceable. She seems to have been
much above the average of her associates
in intelligence and native refinement. But
the hardships of a pioneer life crushed out
her life. This early bereavement left its
mark upon Lincoln. In his early man-
hood he loved with all the chivalrous de-
votion of his nature Ann Rutledge, who
sickened and died under circumstances
most pathetic. Lincoln spent with her
the last hour of her consciousness. She
then relapsed in her brain fever into coma,
and Lincoln went out into the midnight of



a great grief that for months threatened
to unsettle his reason. Biographers have
in general made but slight reference to the
deeply personal experiences of Lincoln.
Yet these great sorrows, followed by a life
of continuous disappointments, culmina-
ting in the taking into his own soul a
nation's woe, produced the Lincoln whom
we know. Out of deep sorrow the Man
came. His character was forged in the
storm and stress of the elemental forces
that have made great souls in all ages.
He, too, could say, "I have trodden the
wine press alone."

We do not know how diamonds are
made. Nature guards her secret well.
We know that diamonds do not rot. As
you hold the precious stone in your hand,
^'hither and thither turning it to see the
rich light play in its mysterious depths,"
you marvel as to the Master Secret by
which carbon is turned into splendor of

And so we marvel at the transfiguration
of personality into divine beauty and
power. But here the secret is not so jeal-
ously guarded. God gives us glimpses
into the souls of men as He has into the



soul of His Son. It is not in maydays of
transient delight that greatness of -soul is
achieved, but in the storm and stress — in
the solitudes — in the awful silence. No
life is strong that merely flits in the sun-
beams of summer days. Often God will
not let us be so silly and trifling and super-
ficial as we wish. The waters come in
upon our souls. Out of the deeps we cry
to God. And He hears our cry, not merely
to lift us out of the waters into w^hich we
are sinking through unbelief, but to make
us forever nobler and mightier for that
lift of the Divine Hand.

"There are (those) who hold Ufe like a precious
Hither and thither turning it to see
The rich light play in its mysterious depths;
And other men to whom life seems a bridge
By which they pass to things which lie beyond;
And others, still, who count life but as wine.
In which they drink their pledges to their friends.
But then there are to whom life's dearness lies
In that it is the pressure of God's hand.
With which He holds our feeble hand in love.
And makes us know ourselves in knowing Him."*

* Extract from note-book of Phillips Brooks. — Life of
Brooks, Allen. Vol. II, p. 366.


The Master Motive

"Then said I, Lo, I am come;
In the roll of the book it is written of me:
I dehght to do Thy will, O my God;
Yea, Thy law is within my heart."

—Psalms 40: 7-8*

Jesus was a revolutionist. He came to
establish a new order. He was a con-
structive revolutionist, and a constructive
revolutionist is a true evolutionist. In evo-
lution the husks are thrown off. The vi-
tality of the seed is conserved, not de-
stroyed. The expansion of a vital principle
creates the superficial impression of ruin;
but it is destruction that there may be
construction; it is death that there may
be Hfe; it is the birth pain of joy.

The Old Testament and the old dis-
pensation contained seed. These men of
vision saw fundamental issues and grasped

The conception that lies back of this
fortieth psalm is noble. Here is a per-

* Also Hebrews 10



sonality with penetrating vision who sees
the profound purpose of God in the re-
ligious sacrifices which He has ordained,
but who also sees that God's purpose can
not be fulfilled by mere sacrifices. As a
servant of God, this man finds his noble
destiny to be the bringing of his own life
up to the living service of God.

" Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works
which Thou hast done,

And Thy thoughts which are to us- ward ;

They can not be set in order unto Thee;

If I would declare and speak of them.

They are more than can be numbered.

Sacrifice and offering Thou hast no delight in;

Mine eyes hast Thou opened;

Burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not re-

Then said I, Lo, I am come;

In the roll of the book it is written of me:

I dehght to do Thy will, O my God;

Yea, Thy law is within my heart."

—Psalms 40: 5-8.

And this firm grasp of divine purpose is
carried forward in the New Testament and
applied to the Savior. He is represented
as taking up this great prayer and pre-
senting His own life with all its depths of
purpose as a sacrifice to God.


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