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there is but one Duty for all, and that all of them can do that Duty
equally well, whatever their constitution, or scholarship, or
station of life may be, provided they will but remember that God has
called them to that station, and not try to invent some new and
finer one for themselves; provided they remember that they are to do
in that station neither more nor less than every one else is to do
in theirs, namely, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with their God.

In a word, to be perfect, even as their Father in heaven is perfect.
To do justly, because God is just, faithful, and true, rewarding
every man according to his works, and no partial accepter of
persons; so that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh
righteousness is accepted by Him.

To love mercy, because God loves mercy; to be merciful, because our
Father in heaven is merciful; because He willeth not the death of a
sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live;
because God came to seek and to save that which is lost, and is good
to the unthankful and the evil; and because God so loved sinful man,
that when man hated God, God's answer to man's hate, God's vengeance
upon man's rebellion, was, to send His only-begotten Son, that
whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting

And to walk humbly with your God, because - and what shall I say now?
Does God walk humbly? Can there be humility in God? Can God obey?
And yet it must be so. If, as is most certain from Holy Scripture,
man, as far as he is what man ought to be, is the image and glory of
God; if man's justice ought to be a copy of God's justice, and man's
mercy a copy of God's mercy, and all which is good in man a copy of
something good in God: if, as is most certain, all good on earth is
God's likeness, and only good because it is God's likeness, and is
given by God's Spirit, - then our walking humbly with God, if it be
good, must be a copy of something in God. But of what?

That, my friends, is a question which can never be answered but by
those who believe in the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity, The
Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. It is too solemn and great a
matter to be spoken of hastily at the end of a sermon. I will tell
you what little I seem to see of it next Sunday, with awe and
trembling, as one who enters upon holy ground. But this I will tell
you, to bear in mind meanwhile, that if you wish to know or to do
what is right, you must firmly believe and bear in mind this, - that
God's justice is exactly like what would be just in you and me,
without any difference whatsoever: that God's mercy is exactly like
what would be merciful in you and me; and that, as I hope to show
you next Sunday, God's humility, wonderful as it may seem, is
exactly like what would be humble in you and me. For I warn you,
that if you do not believe this, you will be tempted to forget God's
righteousness, and to invent a righteousness of your own, which is
no righteousness at all, but unrighteousness. For there can be but
one righteousness - mind what I say - only one righteousness, as there
can be only one truth, and only one reason. Forget that, and you
will be tempted to invent for yourselves a false justice, which is
dishonest and partial; a false mercy, which is cruel; a false
humility, which is vain and self-conceited; and you will be tempted
also, as men of all religions and denominations have been, to impute
to God actions, and thoughts, and tempers, which are (as your own
consciences, if you would listen to God's Word in them, would tell
you) unjust, cruel, and proud; and then you will be tempted to say
that things are justifiable in God, which you would not excuse in
any other being, by saying: 'Of course it must be right in Him,
because He is God, and can do what He will.' As if the Judge of all
the earth would not do Right; as if He could be anything, or could
do anything, but the Eternal _Good_ which is His very being and
essence, and which He has shown forth in His Son Jesus Christ our
Lord, who went about doing good because God was with Him. We all
know what the good which He did was like. Let us believe that God
the Father's goodness is the same as Jesus Christ's goodness. Let
us believe really what we say when we confess that Jesus was the
brightness of His Father's Glory, and the express image of His


John v. 19, 20, 30. Then answered Jesus, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father
do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son
likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things
that Himself doeth.

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my
judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of
my Father which is in Heaven.

This, my friends, is why man should walk humbly and obediently with
his God; because humility and obedience are the likeness of the Son
of God, who, though He is equal to His Father, yet to do His
Father's will humbled Himself, and took on Him the form of a slave,
and though He is a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which He
suffered; sacrificing Himself utterly and perfectly to do the
commands of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God; and
sacrificing Himself to His Father not as a man merely, but as a son;
not because He was in the likeness of sinful flesh, but because He
was The Everlasting Son of His Father; not once only on the cross,
but from all eternity to all eternity, the Lamb slain before the
foundation of the world. This is a great mystery; we may understand
somewhat more of it by thinking over the meaning of those great
words, Father and Son.

Now, first, a son must be of the same nature as his father, - that is
certain. Each kind of animal brings forth after its kind: the lion
begets lions, the sheep, sheep; the son of a man must be a man, of
one substance with his earthly father; and by the same law, the Son
of God must be God. Take away that notion: say that the only-
begotten Son of God is not very God of very God, of one substance
with His Father, and the word son means nothing. If a son be not of
the same substance as his father, he is not a son at all. And more,
a perfect son must be as great and as good as his father, exactly
like his father in everything. That is the very meaning of father
and son; that like should beget like. Among fallen and imperfect
men, some sons are worse and weaker than their fathers: but we all
feel that that is an evil, a thing to be sorry for, a sad
consequence of our fallen state. Our reasons and hearts tell us
that a son ought to be equal to his father, and that it is in some
way an affliction, almost a shame, to a father, if his children are
weaker or worse than he is. But we cannot fancy such a thing in
God; the only-begotten perfect Son of the Almighty and perfect
Father must be at least equal to His Father, as great as His Father,
as good as His Father; the brightness of His Father's glory, and the
express image of His Father's person.

But there is another thing about father and son which we must look
at, and that is this: a good son loves and obeys his father, and
the better son he is, the more he loves and obeys his father; and
therefore a perfect son will perfectly love and perfectly obey his

Now, here is the great difference between animals and men. Among
the higher animals, the mothers always, and the fathers sometimes,
feed, and help, and protect their young: but we seldom or never
find that young animals help and protect their parents; certainly,
they never obey their fathers when they are full grown, but are as
ready to tear their fathers in pieces as their fathers are to tear
them: so that the love and obedience of full-grown sons to their
fathers is so utterly human a thing, so utterly different from
anything we find in the brutes, that we must believe it to be part
of man's immortal soul, part of God's likeness in man.

And in the text our Lord declares that it is so; He declares that
His obedience to His Father, and His Father's love to Him, is the
perfect likeness of what goes on between a good son and a good
father among men; only that it is _perfect_, because it is between a
perfect Father and a perfect Son.

Father and Son! Let philosophers and divines discover what they may
about God, they will never discover anything so deep as the wonder
which lies in those two words, Father and Son. So deep, and yet so
simple! So simple, that the wayfaring man, though poor, shall not
err therein. 'Who is God? What is God like? Where shall we find
Him, or His likeness?' - so has mankind been crying in all ages, and
getting no answer, or making answers for themselves in all sorts of
superstitions, idolatries, false philosophies. And then the Gospel
comes, and answers to every man, to every poor and unlearned
labourer: Will you know the name of God? It is a Father, a Son,
and a Holy Spirit of love, joy, peace; a Spirit of perfect
satisfaction of the Father in the Son, and perfect satisfaction of
the Son with the Father, which proceeds from both the Father and the
Son. It needs no scholarship to understand that Name; every one may
understand it who is a good father; every one may understand it who
is a good son, who looks up to and obeys his father with that filial
spirit of love, and obedience, and satisfaction with his father's
will, which is the likeness of the Holy Spirit of God, and can only
flourish in any man by the help of the Holy Spirit which proceeds
from the Father and the Son.

Father and Son! what more beautiful words are there in the world?
What more beautiful sight is there in the world than a son who
really loves his father, really trusts his father, really does his
duty to his father, really looks up to and obeys his father's will
in all things? who is ready to sacrifice his own credit, his own
pleasure, his own success in life, for the sake of his father's
comfort and honour? How much more fair and noble must be the love
and trust which is between God the Father and God the Son!

I wish that some of those who now write so many excellent books for
young people, would write one made up entirely of stories of good
sons who have obeyed, and worked for, and suffered for their
parents. Sure I am that such a book, wisely and well written, would
teach young people much of the meaning of the blessed name of God,
much of their duty to God. And yet, after all, my friends, is not
such a book written already? Have we not the four Gospels, which
tell us of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son, who came to do the will of
a perfect Father? Read that; read your Bibles. Read the history of
the Lord Jesus Christ, keeping in mind always that it is the history
of the Son of God, and of His obedience to His Father. And when in
St. John's most wonderful Gospel you meet with deep texts, like the
one which I have chosen, read them too as carefully, if possible
more carefully, than the rest; for they are meant for all parents
and for all children upon earth. Read how The Father loves The Son,
and gives all things into His hand, and commits all judgment to The
Son, and gives Him power to have life in Himself, even as The Father
has life in Himself, and shows Him all things that Himself doeth,
that all men may honour The Son even as they honour The Father.
Read how The Son came only to show forth His Father's glory; to be
the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person: to
establish His Father's kingdom; to declare the goodness of His
Father's Name, which is _The_ Father. How He does nothing of
Himself, but only what He sees His Father do; how He seeks not His
own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him; how He sacrificed
all, yea even His most precious body and soul upon the cross, to
finish the work which His Father gave Him to do. How, being in the
form of God, and thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, He
could boldly say, 'As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the
Father. I and my Father are one:' and still, in the fulness of His
filial love and obedience, declared that He had no will, no wish, no
work, no glory, but His Father's; and in the hour of His agony cried
out, 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.'

My friends, you will be able to understand more and more of the
meaning of these words just in proportion as you are good sons and
good fathers; and therefore, just in proportion as you are led and
taught by the Holy Spirit of God, without whose help no man can be
either a good father or a good son. A bad son; a disobedient, self-
willed, self-conceited son, who is seeking his own credit and not
his father's, his own pleasure and not his parent's comfort; a son
who is impatient of being kept in order and advised, who despises
his parent's counsel, and will have none of his reproof, - to him
these words of our Lord, the deepest, noblest words which were ever
spoken on earth, will have no more meaning than if they were written
in a foreign language; he will not know what our Lord means; he will
not be able to see why our Lord came and suffered; he will not see
any beauty in our Lord's character, any righteousness in His
sacrificing Himself for His Father; and because he has forgotten his
duty to his earthly father, he will never learn his duty to God.

For what is the duty of the Lord Jesus Christ is our duty, if we are
the sons of God in Him. He is The Son of God by an eternal never-
ceasing generation; we are the sons of God by adoption. The way in
which we are to look up to God, The Holy Spirit must teach us; what
is our duty to God The Holy Spirit must teach us. And who is The
Holy Spirit? He is The Spirit who proceeds from The Son as well as
from The Father. He is The Spirit of Jesus Christ, The Spirit of
the Son of God, the Spirit who descended on the Lord Jesus when He
was baptized, the Spirit which God gave to Him without measure. He
is the Spirit of The Son of God; and we are sons of God by adoption,
says Saint Paul; and because we are sons, he says, God has sent
forth into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, by whom we look up to
God as our Father; and this Spirit of God's Son, by whom we cry to
God, Abba, Father, St. Paul calls, in another place, the Spirit of
adoption; and declares openly that He is the very Spirit of God.

Therefore, in whatsoever way the Spirit of God is to teach you to
look up to God, He will teach you to look up to Him as a Father; the
Father of Spirits, and therefore your Father; for you are a spirit.
Whatsoever duty to God the Holy Spirit teaches you, He teaches you
first, and before all things, that it is filial duty, the duty of a
son to a father, because you are the son of God, and God is your

Therefore, whatsoever man or book tells you that your duty to God is
anything but the duty of a son to his father does not speak by the
Spirit of God. Whatsoever thoughts or feelings in your own hearts
tell you that your duty to God is anything but the duty of a son to
his father, and tempt you to distrust God's forgiveness, and shrink
from Him, and look up to Him as a taskmaster, and an austere and
revengeful Lord, are not the Spirit of God; no, nor your own spirit,
'the spirit of a man,' which is in you; for that was originally made
in the likeness of God's Spirit, and by it rebellious sons arise and
go back to their earthly fathers, and trust in them when they have
nothing else left to trust, and say to themselves, 'Though all the
world has cast me off, my parents will not. Though all the world
despise and hate me, my parents love me still; though I have
rebelled against them, deserted them, insulted them, I am still my
father's child. I will go home to my own people, to the house where
I was born, to the parents who nursed me on their knee, I will go to
my father.'

Fathers and mothers! if your son or daughter came home to you thus,
though they had insulted you, disgraced you, and spent their
substance in riotous living, would you shut your doors upon them?
Would not all be forgiven and forgotten at once? Would not you call
your neighbours to rejoice with you, and say, 'It is good to be
merry and glad, for this our son was dead and is alive again, he was
lost and is found?' And would not that penitent child be more
precious to you, though you cannot tell why, than any other of your
children? Would you not feel a peculiar interest in him henceforth?
And do you not know that so to forgive would be no weak indulgence,
but the part of a good father; a good, and noble, and human thing to
do? Ay, a human thing, and therefore a divine thing, part of God's
likeness in man. For is it not the likeness of God Himself? Has
not God Himself, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, declared that
He does so forgive His penitent children, at once and utterly, and
that 'There is more joy among the angels of God over one sinner that
repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no
repentance?' So says the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son
of God. Let who dare dispute His words, or try to water them down,
and explain them away.

And why should it not be so? Do you fancy God less of a father than
you are? Is He not _The_ Father, the perfect Father, 'from whom
every fatherhood in heaven and earth is named?' Oh, believe that He
is indeed a Father; believe that all the love and care which you can
show to your children is as much poorer than the love and care God
shows to you, as your obedience to your earthly parents is poorer
and weaker than the love and obedience of Jesus Christ to His
Father. God is as much better a Father than you are, as Jesus
Christ is a better Son than you are. There is a sum of proportions;
a rule-of-three sum; work it out for yourselves, and then distrust
God's love if you dare.

And believe, that whatsoever makes you distrust God's love is
neither the Spirit of God who is the spirit of sonship, nor the
spirit of man: but the spirit of the Devil, who loves to slander
God to men, that they may shrink from Him, and be afraid to arise
and go to their Father, to be received again as sons of God; that
so, being kept from true penitence, they may be kept from true
holiness, and from their duty to God, which is the duty of sons of
God to their Father in heaven.

Believe no such notions, my friends; howsoever humble and reverent
they may seem, they are but insults to God; for under pretence of
honouring Him, they dishonour Him; for He is love, and he who
feareth, that is, who looks up to God with terror and distrust, is
not made perfect in love. So says St. John, in the very chapter
wherein he tells us that God is love, and has manifested His love to
us by sending His Son to be the Saviour of the world; and that the
very reason for our loving God is, that He loves us already; and
that therefore He who loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

Yes, my friends, God is your Father; and God is love; and your duty
to God is a duty of love and obedience to a Father who so loved you
and all mankind that He spared not His only begotten Son, but freely
gave Him for you. 'Our Father which art in heaven,' is to be the
key-note of all your duty, as it is to be the key-note of all your
prayers: and therefore the Catechism is right in teaching the child
that God is his Father, and Jesus Christ the perfect Son of God his
pattern, and the Holy Spirit of the Father and of the Son his
teacher and inspirer, before it says one word to the child about
duty to God, or sin against God. How indeed can it tell him what
sin is, until it has told him against whom sin is committed, and
that if he sins against God he sins against a Father, and breaks his
duty to his Father? And how can it tell him that till it has told
him that God is his Father? How can it tell him what sin is till it
has told him what righteousness is? How can it tell him what
breaking his duty is till it has told him what the duty itself is?
But the child knows already that God is his Father; and therefore,
when the Catechism asks him, 'What is his duty to God?' it is as
much as to say, 'My child, thou hast confessed already that thou
hast a good Father in heaven, and thou knowest as well as I (perhaps
better) what a father means. Tell me, then, how dost thou think
thou oughtest to behave to such a Father?' And the whole answer
which is put into the child's mouth, is the description of duty to a
father; of things which there would be no reason for his doing to
anyone who was not his father; nay, which he could not do honestly
to anyone else, but only hypocritically, for the sake of flattering,
and which differs utterly from any notion of duty to God which the
heathen have ever had just in this, that it is a description of how
a son should behave to a father. Read it for yourselves, my
friends, and judge for yourselves; and may God give you all grace to
act up to it - not in order that you, by 'acts of faith,' or 'acts of
love,' or 'acts of devotion,' may persuade God to love you; but
because He loves you already, with a love boundless as Himself;
because in Him you live, and move, and have your being, and are the
offspring of God; because His mercy is over all His works, and
because He loved the world, and sent His Son, not to condemn the
world, but that the world through Him might be saved; because He is
The Giver, The Father of lights, from whom comes every good and
perfect gift; because all which makes this earth habitable - all
justice, order, wisdom, goodness, mercy, humbleness, self-sacrifice -
all which is fair, or honourable, or useful, in men or angels, in
kings on their thrones or in labourers at the plough, in divines in
their studies or soldiers in the field of battle - all in the whole
universe, which is not useless, and hurtful, and base, and damnable,
and doomed (blessed thought that it is so!) to be burned up in
unquenchable fire - all, I say, comes forth from the Father of the
spirits of all flesh, the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in working; who spared not His only begotten Son, but
freely gave Him for us, and will with Him freely give us all things.


Matt. vi. 9, 10. After this manner pray ye: Our Father which art
in heaven.

I have shown you what a simple account of our duty to God and to our
neighbour the Catechism gives us. I now beg you to remark, that
simple and everyday as this same duty is, the Catechism warns us
that we cannot do it without God's special grace, and I beg you to
remark further, that the Catechism does not say that we cannot do
these things well without God's special grace, but that we cannot do
them at all. It does not say that we cannot do all these things of
ourselves, but that we can do none of them. But I want you to
remark one thing more, which is very noteworthy: that in this case,
for the first time throughout the Catechism, the teacher tells the
child something. All along the teacher has, as I have often shown
you, been making the child tell him what is right, calling out in
the child's heart thoughts and knowledge which were there already.
Now he in his turn tells the child something which he takes for
granted is not in the child's heart, of which, if it is, has been
put into it by his teachers, and of which he must be continually
reminded, lest he should forget it; namely, that he cannot do these
of himself; that, as St. Paul says, 'in him,' that is, in his flesh,
'dwells no good thing;' that he is not able to think or to do
anything as of himself, but his sufficiency is of God, who works in
him to will and to do of His good pleasure, who has also given him
His Holy Spirit.

The Catechism, in short, takes for granted that the child knows his
duty; but it takes for granted also that he does not know how to do
that duty. It takes for granted, that in every child there is as
St. Paul says, 'a law in his members warring against the law of his
mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin' (literally,
of short coming, or missing the mark) 'which is in his members.'
Now man's natural inclination is to suppose that good thoughts are
part of himself, and therefore that a good will to put them in
practice is in his own power. I blame no one for making that
mistake: but I warn them, in the name of the Bible and of the
Catechism, that it is a mistake, and one which every man, woman, and

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