Albert Leverett Gridley.

The divine life : its development and activities online

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vancement conceived in any age.

Any society of nations the proposed league of no-
tions, must crumble unless the world is leavened with a
unity of moral ideas. These moral and social ideas can-
not be put over by unrelated denominations. We de-
sire unity in the matter of economic justice and on all
moral issues and do not concern ourselves with the split-

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 121

ting of hairs or theologic discussions. Tomorrow, the
paper goes on to say, "174,000 preachers will go to work,
all driving at the same thing — the advancement of the
world's moral welfare. If this army of spiritual leaders
were united in a battle for some great issue nothing in
the world could stand up against the drive."

Some of these thoughts and words may have a bear-
ing more on what is to follow than upon what ha;: been
said. But they are samples of what we find in almost
any paper we chance to pick up.

The church of Christ is being called as never before
to "come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty,"
and it is answering the call.

A few words more from a religious paper. "To pro-
vide the spiritual equivalent of the stupendous material
forces released in the world war the evangelical church
in all of her great denominations is prospecting a program
of extension and enlargement on a vast and comprehen-
sive scale. The barest enumeration of this in naked out-
line is impressive. The aggregate impression is full of
inspiration and challenge."

Again, the same paper goes on to say, "It would be
a tragedy unspeakable if we should win the war and
after all fail to achieve the purpose for which we are
fighting. To what end shall we have spent millions of
treasure and the far more precious lives of our sons if
we fail to take a long step toward the creation between
nations and races, the relations of good will and help-
fulness that are in accord with the principles of Christ
and are necessary to the welfare of the human race?"

Again "The Church is awake. The dry bones are
living. What does it all mean — this new determination,
this new endeavor? As the Church sees the world as it
has never seen the world before, so the world sees the

122 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

church as it has never seen the church before. In the
great movements now being inaugurated there is some-
thing for everybody to do."

/Such expressions are faint foregleams of the truth.
That fiercely soul stirring challenge of Col. McCrae is to
the Church. "Take up our quarters with the foe."

"To you from failing hands we throw
The torch ; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields."
The challenge has been answered in words in the
language of another :

"And now the torch and poppy red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught ;
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders Fields."

Words? Yes, and deeds. The thin line of soldiers
firing their red hot rifles at Ypres, the hosts that at Ver-
dun met the advancing tens of thousands with the cry,
"they shall not pass," others at Chateau Thiery and hun-
dreds of other bloody fields have answered the chal-
lenge but in part.

They have meet the physical challenge but the in
tangible, invisible spirit back of it all, animating all, forc-
ing all still remains to be met.

That challenge of McCrae must be met, accepted
by spiritual forces and those forces are represented by
the Church of Christ.

After all may it not be that those who entertain "the
blessed hope" may not be mistaken so much in the fact
of the Lord's return as the manner of it?

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 123

He did not come at first to meet the expectations,
the most ardent desires of a hungering world, but he did

Israel expected that their Messiah would break the
power of Rome and set up a temporal kingdom, but he
did better. He came to break the power of a greater
than Rome and set up a greater kingdom, but not of this

It may not be surprising if some now may be mis-
taken in the manner of his coming and the manner of his
working. Reasoning from the past can we expect that
the church can sit down with folded hands, look on and
wonder and applaud while He assumes again the human
form, comes as a great king and by an exercise of won-
derful, miraculous power abolish sin and crime, bring
order out of the world's confusion, and whether men
will or not, establish a reign of everlasting and perfect
righteousness on earth? To accomplish that is just what
he commissioned his Church to do.

"Must I be carried to the skies
On Flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?"
Christ's answer would be a most decided negative.
He expects his Church to build up his kingdom in
this world, or rather that He will do it through and by
his Church. And let us not be mistaken in this regard
and think that if anything is accomplished we have done
it. It is after all Christ that is doing the work. After
writing the longest of the four gospels, Luke says, "The
former treaties have I made — of all that Jesus began
both to do and to teach." He only began his doing and
teaching while here in the flesh. He has been doing and
teaching; ever since.

124 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

When the disciples wrought miracles they never
professed to do it by their own power. It was Christ
that did it. When they taught it was by the wisdom of
Christ. When they performed wonderful works it was
by the power of the risen Christ. I need not quote par-
ticular passages to prove such statements. They are
too many and too apparent to need quoting.

But let us gain the climax of this line of thought by
gradual approaches. As he delivers his last and great
commission, Jesus says to his disciples, "Lo I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world." Note first
he is to be with them. Jesus is as omnipresent as God,
for he is God.

Further than that he is not only to be with them but
in them. He prays "that they may be one even as we are
one, I in them and thou in me that they may be made per-
fect in one," and so on.

Then how earnestly he prays "That the love where-
with thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them."
But Paul makes the fact very plain. "Know ye
not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of
God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of
God, him shall God destroy ; for the temple of God is
holy, which temple ye are." Again he is more specific
with regard to its being Christ that is spoken of, "Know
ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you
except ye be reprobates?" Again Paul prays, "That
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith?" and so on.
But to be still more specific, (I Cor. 6:15,) "Know
ye not that your bodies are members of Christ?" Then,
(I Cor. 12—27) "Now ye are the body of Christ and
members in particular."

Then as for the Church in the aggregate, (Eph. 1 :22-
23), speaking of Christ he says "And hath put all things
under his feet, and gave him to be all things to the

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 125

'Church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth
all in all." Again he speaks of "The afflictions of Christ
in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the Church." He
speaks of the Church as the body of Christ. Finally,
(Eph. 5:30), speaking of Christ he says "For we are
members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones."
Then speaking of man and wife as being one flesh he
says "This is a great mystery ; but I speak of Christ and
the Church." It would seem that nothing could be more
plain than that the Church is the incarnation of Christ,
and it is the body of flesh and bones through which he
is to accomplish his work in the world.

Christ is too large to be confined to a single human
body. He fills the universe and can inhabit every human
being in the universe and then not exhaust his being. He
is the "Fulness of him that filleth all in all."

But what about his second coming? It may be like
that of the Comforter whom Christ promised to send to
the disciples. Just before he ascended he breathed on
them and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost.'" They re-
ceived the Holy Spirit then and there but his full manifes-
tation was not until after that ten day's prayer meeting.
Then He came in the fulness of his power on the day of
pentecost. But it was not in the form of a man, even in
physical perfection, but as tongues of fire breaking off
from the Shekinah cloud in the room. These tongues
settled upon them and filled them and then was performed
the promise of Christ, "Ye shall receive power when the
Holy Ghost is come upon you." The world waited 2,000
years for the fulness of the Mosaic dispensation to come
in, and has waited nearly as long for the fulness of the
Christian dispensation to come in.

Christ has been in his church all these years, but
the Divine life in its individual members has not dominat-
ed the human, imperfect, life enough. That Divine life

126 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

must gain the ascendency over the human life, it must
be supreme. That supremacy may assert itself in some
wonderful outpouring as on the day of Pentecost. Then
there may be, as in Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry
bones, a movement, a coming together, and finally flesh
and life. But the Church has not been entirely like that
valley. It has already accomplished much, particularly
during the last century. It has shown signs of increas-
ing life, but it has been mainly preparatory for still great-
er things, like the first fruits of a still greater harvest.

Christ is coming again with power, but that power
must be manifested through his body, the Church. Let
those who entertain "the blessed hope" of the Lord's
return, realize that they, themselves, are members of his
body, of his flesh and of his bones. All who have accepted
Christ and the new, the eternal life are members of his
body, though some of them may be obscure, unrecog-
nized by the world at large, and yet be like the heart, the
lungs, the veins and arteries of the body, the very source
of life and strength. What a picture the apostle draws of
the body of Christ in the twelfth chapter of First Cor-
inthians. A great many members and yet but one body.

But now, specifically, what is the work that the
church is to do? It is to continue what Christ "Began
both to do and to teach." But it would be well to remem-
ber that he had little to do with external affairs. He re-
fused to act as "a judge or a divider" when asked to use
his influence in an apparently just cause. He healed the
sick as his church is now doing as shown by the thous-
ands of Christian physicians and hospitals wherever the
Church has gained a foothold. The Church, too, should
continue his teachings. But those teachings were drawn
from the Book which he so much reverenced, the book
of which the Psalmist declares "Thy word is true from
the beginning."

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 127

That Word, unemasculated, unaltered, supplemented
by his own words, directly as he himself uttered them or
as uttered by those whom he moved by his inspiration to
write, must be the authority for all its teaching.

But all of these things, all of the activities of the
church must be accessory to, subordinated to the supreme
purpose that Christ came to accomplish, that purpose was
to impart eternal life. That life that is eternal not simply
as to duration, but that has the kind, the quality of the
life of God. As that was the supreme work Christ came
to do, so must it be the supreme work of his body now.
And there must be no mistake in this regard. Men do
not naturally have the Divine life. If we have it, it must
come as the gift of God through Christ. By receiving
that life is the only way by which men can be brought into
harmony with the workings of the universe. When the
world was completed God pronounced it "very good." It
was so made as to work in harmony with and for the
good of man in the condition of Adam after God imparted
to him eternal life and before he lost it by his trans-
gression. The only way now by which the universe can
work in harmony with men is for men to get into har-
mony with it and its Creator. Even now, with all of the
chaos that sin has brought into the world, God is wise
enough and good enough and powerful enough so that
"All things work together for good for those that love
God." But it is desirable that all mankind place them-
selves in such an attitude that the universe may be in har-
mony with them and all be the beneficiaries of that work-
ing. That was, I repeat, the supreme purpose for which
Christ came into the world. So this must be the supreme
purpose of the church. However much we might wish it
otherwise, the preaching today must be still the preaching
of John the Baptist and of Christ, "Repent for the king-
dom of heaven is at hand." A great deal is being said in

128 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

these days about "The Fatherhood of God and the Broth-
erhood of man." In a kind of loose, conventional way,
and perhaps the way in which it is meant to be under-
stood, there is much of truth in it. But it really indicates
more what should be than what is. It must not be inter-
preted as universalism.

What is the status of'a child of God" who has never
been born again? There can possibly be but one answer, he
is out of the kingdom and must stay out until he re-
ceives from God the life of the kingdom, the life that
alone can inhabit the kingdom. Jesus said to an amiable
and pious Rabbi, "ye must be born again." It is as true
now as then and of men now as it was of Nicodemus.
It is a sad thought, a thought that we should naturally
wish not to express, but the great Judge of all the earth
has said "Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have
-cast out devils and in thy name done many wonderful

But the terrible answer will be "I never knew you."
Many most excellent, large hearted, generous men
seem to be mistaken as to the best way of arriving at the
objects they wish to attain. They most sincerely wish to
benefit, to improve the external conditions of their fel-
low men. Upon the surface it would seem that the way
by which to secure that purpose, in their thought, is to
change external conditions. They seem to think that the
main work of the church should be along sociological
lines. Within its proper sphere and within certain limits
such work is excellent. It is a part of the work which the
hands have to do. It is all a manifestation of the spirit
of Christianity, and is prompted by that spirit. Such
work is never done where Christianity has not penetrat-
ed. And we may say as truly, that all work that is in any
way beneficial to mankind, may be the manifestation of

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities- 129

the same spirit. The farmer at his plow, the clerk at his
desk, the banker among his accounts, the student among
his books, the miner as he throws out the coal, are but
samples of all men who may have the consciousness that
they are doing their Lord's work, if it is done with the
right spirit. All such work is beneficial, all is necessary.

So this work for the bettering of external conditions
of man has its place but it is not the great work of the
church. That kind of work in the early church was del-
egated to deacons while the apostles continued the main
work to which they were called. And even those who
were set aside for the humanitarian part of the work
were very successful preachers as well, and the first mar-
tyr was from that class.

The great, the supreme work of the church is to
impart a kind of life that has the formative power of its
own conditions. But it is too sadly true, that one may
read volumes upon sociology and never see a single hint
that Christ has a claim upon those for whom the most des-
perate efforts are being made to benefit. But when
masses accept the Divine life that Christ came to im-
part, they change their conditions themselves. Of course
they may need help, but they will have the life principle-
that will inevitably elevate their surroundings. The same-
is true of foreign fields. The church has a mighty work-
to do among the nations that have lately been at war. The*
spirit of Christ alone can bring about a peace that shal?
be permanent and just. But the Church must not forget
the source, the only source of its power. The source of
Christ's power was intimacy with the Father. The power
of Pentecost came in answer to the united prayers of a
united Church for ten days. The modern church can ac-
complish its object, do its work in no other way for that is

130 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

the only way by which its power can be obtained. But
when a united Church "Fair as the moon, clear as the
sun, and terrible as an army with banners" moves against
the powers of darkness, then will the activities of the
Divine Life be in the way of accomplishing its mission.


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Online LibraryAlbert Leverett GridleyThe divine life : its development and activities → online text (page 9 of 9)