F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

Christ in the Christian year and in the life of man : sermons for laymen's reading (Advent to Trinity) online

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University of California.


Received October, 1894.
^Accessions No.ffZ>//^U- . Class No.










713 Broadway








i This volume owes its existence to a letter received by the author,
some months ago, from a presbyter in one of our western dioceses
highly esteemed in the Church at large and of wide experience in its
service. He believes that there is still need of printed sermons to be
read in churches, and gives some reasons why the present publica-
tion should be made. Although it would not have been undertaken
but for his advice and request, he is in no manner responsible for
what the book contains.

Tbis suggestion having been- .adopted, ib became necessary to
accept whatever limitations it imposed both as to matter and method.
Preferences which otherwise might be reasonably indulged, as re-
spects topics and their treatment, lines of abstract thought and
completeness of discussion, must to some extent be sacrificed. The
frequent appearance of italics, a blemish on the pages to the eye of
taste, is to be accounted for in the same way. It was also thought
that to most readers certain obvious aspects and explanations of the
principal Church-seasons might be supposed to be already sufficiently

Let it be stated as according to the author's general conception of
preaching that the aim in each individual discourse should be rather
to give a sense of reality, in the particular truth there presented, than
to exhaust subjects; to create in the hearers as vivid and abiding an
impression as may be of some distinct department of Christian doc-
trine or duty, comprehending only such relations of idea and fact as
seem most suitable to that end. Several important topics, pertaining
to the domain of Church-instruction, are reserved for another volume.

The author ought frankly to add that in allowing these sermons,
many of which were written for a parochial ministry, to go to pres*,
he could not bring himself to consider merely their u^e in lay read-
ing. He would modestly hope that some of them, while help


ing a soul here and there to live heartily for God, may also at
least indicate a belief that the men of this country and this time,
especially if somewhat thoughtful and right-hearted, are to find a
solution of many theological and speculative difiBculties by subor-
dinating everything else in Christian teaching to the fact of the
Incarnation of our Lord, Son of God and Son of Man, and to the
power of His person as the Giver of life, the only true and eternal
life, through the divine channels of His grace, to mankind. The
best promises of the thinking and working world appear to encour-
age this anticipation. May it not be expected that, as this profound
and inspiring verity takes its due place, many doubts arising in the
spheres of physical science and metaphysical philosophy will dis-
appear, not by a process of dialectics or controversy but by a fair
construction of that Word which is '*the Word of life" just because
it has for its substance Him who is the living and everlasting "Word
made flesh" and "dwelling among us"?

It would seem to follow naturally in the line of this view that the
higher rather than the lower range of motives is to be addressed
by the pulpit, in appeals for faith and obedience, for manliness and
godliness. Had there been in the homiletics and general religious
literature of the last two hundred years a more distinct and rugged
realism, a more visible relation between the supernatural elements of
revelation and the production of character in Christian people, and
had piety been represented rather as spiritual health in the entire
man than as a special and somewhat exceptional not to say abnor-
mal sentiment, the scepticism of the "common- sense" school in
England with the humanitarian and literary rationalism of Germany,
France, and the United States would have had less plausibility and
been less destructive.

F. D. H.







Advent Sunday, 1

Christ's First Coming.

Second Sunday in Advent,
Christ's Second Coming.

Third Sunday in Advent, ....
Christ in Judgment.

FouKTii Sunday aftek Advent, .

The Highteousness of God, and Uprightness in

Christmas-Day, . . .
The Man Christ Jesus.

Sunday after Christmas, ....
Faith Outliving its Special Occasions.

Second Sunday afier Christmas,

E"ew and Old. — Beginning of the Year.

First Sunday after Epiphany, .
The Epiphany Goodness.

Second Sunday after Epiphany,

The Soul Sought by Christ and Seeking Ilim

Third Sunday after Epiphany, .

The Law of Christian Enlargement.

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany,
The Saviour in the Ship.




Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, .... 128
Two and Two before His Face.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, .... 141
Instant Obedience.

Septuagesima Sunday, 152

The Foremost Desire.

Sexagesima Sunday, 164

Sons and Daughters in the Family of Christ.


One Weak Spot.

Ash- Wednesday, 186

The Yoke and Burden ah-eady Easy and Light.

First Sunday in Lent, 196

The Throng and the Touch.

Second Sunday in Lent, 207

Supplication the Church's Power.

Third Sunday in Lent, 219

Purity and its Safeguards.

Fourth Sunday in Lent, . . . ^ . 232

Strength out of Weakness.

Fifth Sunday in Lent, 243

A Heavenly Mind Here.

Palm Sunday, or Sunday before Easter, . . 255
Spiritual Waste and Wealth.

Good Friday, 265

The Water and the Blood.

Easter-Day, 280

Tlie Power of the Hesurrection.



First Sunday after Easter,

How the Kisen Christ is Seen.


. 293

Second Sunday after Easter, .
What is Heaven ?

. 307

Third Sunday after Easter,

Why there will be no more Sea.

. 320

Fourth Sunday after Easter, .
Alone at Athens.

. 335

Fifth Sunday after Easter,

The Human Society in the City of God.

. 350


The Heavens Opened.

. 362

Sunday after Ascension, ....
Unproiitable Gazing.

. 372

Whtts UN-Day,

Leadings of the Holy Spirit.

. 384:



Advent Sunday,

" The "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld
His glory."— /S^. John i. 14.

By a People numbering nearly four millions of souls
there is a celebration to-day of the coming into this
world of the greatest and best of all the Sons of men.
What is wonderful, if we judge in the way the world
has been apt to judge of men these thousands of years,
is that He is the greatest because He is the best. Under
that order of ideas which ruled till He came, still hold-
ing its own in vast dull communities where He is un-
known or unwelcomed, and each trying to maintain
itself within the bounds of His nominal empire, the
greatest men have been soldiers who conquered and
killed their kind ; princes of fortune who bought, hired,
and bribed men ; or, in social states a little higher, stu-
dents and thinkers who led and entertained them by
knowledge or speech. That is, power and command
and hence commemoration belonged to certain men by
virtue of what they had, not by what they were. Now
came a new order, bringing new estimates of human
welfare, new aims for human life, new foundations for
strong states and grand institutions, a new law and
impulse for civilization ; in a word, a new standard b}''
which to measure and test what is really noblest and

most glorious for man — man the individual, man in tlie
family, man in tiie nation; yes, for humanity itself.
Thenceforth the greatness of any man was to be reck-
oned not by what he has, but by what he is. Character
was to be king.

No revolution could be so radical, so wide, so prolific
of real results as this. It goes to the roots of life, and
sooner or later everything on earth must be touched by
it. Why? Because the life of man and the life of
God were to be brought together, and made one.
Hitherto, even by the nation that knew most of Him,
God was thought of, worshipped, obeyed, as living
apart from the world ; over it, to be sure, exalted above
it, but separate from it. Looking through the Old Tes-
tament we do not often find God spoken of as entering
into the heart of His child, dwelling in man's soul, or
as making even the holiest of His saints or the purest
of His prophets a "partaker of the divine nature."
Yet it must be just that, and only that, which could
create in a man the highest conceivable or possible good-
ness; because God is the Good One, and His life the
only perfect life. If humanity could only receive that
divine life into it, be quickened, enlarged, transfigured
by it, share its eternal vigor and beauty, that would be
indeed its "new creation." How could this be? It
would be, if a man, still remaining man, a child " born
of a woman," should be also, by some life-giving mys-
tery not unlike that of the first creation, a partaker of
the life of God, — be divine, one with the Father.
Through Him the vital heavenly goodness enters into
mankind. Through His heart, as its channel, its organ,
its "living way," God's life pours itself into all the sons
of men that will receive it by this Son of Man. We
shall have only to be united with Christ, the human


Brother, spiritually, inwardly, to be united also at once
with God ; for God is in Him ; and we are joined to
the whole Christ. That is possible for all men that live.

And now this coming in flesh is what has taken place.
It is the Advent-fact. Is it strange that four hundred
millions of people remember it to-day, and rejoice in it,
with chants and hymns, with Eucharist and spiritual
communion ? It is the regeneration of our race. There
is a new creation. There is a second Adam. " The first
man Adam," says St. Paul, " was made a living soul " ;
but the soul was a natural soul, and the life was nature's
life, limited, with seeds of imperfection and death in it.
The Greeks called it psyche, and St. Paul uses their
word. ^' The last Adam was made a quickening spirit."
By Him life, life imperishable, everlasting, is given to
those w^ho want to live, and do not want to die. " As
in Adam all die," or live a dying life, " so in Christ shall
all be made alive," or live directly, spiritually, from
God. This is the Incarnation. Read the first chapter
of St. John. We get only a partial notion of the coming
of Christ when we think of Him as coming, as other
historical persons have come, from without, or even from
above, in the ordinary sense of " above." He " comes
forth" from God, and God comes forth in Him, to
receive willing, believing, obedient men into Himself.
We ourselves are new-born in Him, and live forever, —
live a divine life, sons and daughters of the Lord Al-
mighty. " Whosoever will," may.

JN'o matter what the enterprise, skill, wit, energy,
combinations, or bravery of men may do, there is nothing
to be done, or remembered, like this. All other comings
and goings in history must turn around this, make room
for this, look up to this. The kingship of character is
enthroned. A Christian immortality is constituted.

"We are enabled to live the highest life. Heaven begins
on earth. The Word is made flesh and dwells among
us. God and man are at one.

The face of society was changed because its heart was
changed. Instead of wearing any longer a look of hate
and greed and cruelty, there came flashing and glowing
into its expression the look of love, purity, mercy. This
was the Advent-light. The world silently began to be
another world. And the Power set working to bring
this change about made it unlike all other revolutions.
It wrought without violence, noise, ambition, or parade,
" not with observation." It went on not by destruction,
but construction ; not tearing down, but building up.
When the sword was drawn it was because human hands
were used, and the obstinacy of the old system would let
a path be made for the new in no other way. Generally
it moved in among the kingdoms of this world according
to the great anthem that announced it when it was born,
peacefully seeking glory for God by good-will to men, —
spreading as morning is spread upon the mountains, as a
harmony spreads through the spaces and arches of a
sanctuary. Hence, inasmuch as it must take an organic
form, after its Living Head, and be a kingdom, it was
called a Kingdom of Life. Life was a great word with it.
Its founder was the life-giver. " I am come," He said,
" that they might have life, and might have it more abun-
dantly." The change was first in the seats of life, within,
— coming gradually out into doings or fruit, as the way
of life is, — from a hidden seed to root, germ, blade, and
ear ; into common labor, elevating it ; into homes, puri-
fying them by honoring woman and consecrating child-
hood ; into commerce, hallowing it by the spirit of
integrity ; into education, making the training of con-
science and faith, our loftiest capacities, the crown of all

other culture ; into worship, directing it to the One God,
worshipped in spirit and in truth.

TVe know precisely when this new Age, regenerating
humanity, came visibly in. The Divine Power did not
come as an idea, or a book, or a system, or a code of
laws, or a bundle of maxims. Great and good things
have come in all these shapes. But the Life of life came
in a man, born as a child, growing as a youth, living as
other men live. It was not, then, Christianity that
renewed the race, it was Christ ; not abstract Truth, but
a Personal Force, " made flesh." I^or did He come to
disappear, but to remain. We Christians are not a
backward-looking people. His Church holds Him fast,
clinging to Him by her faith, and keeping His presence
fresh by commemorative ordinances, and by Christ-like
work. Is it not clear what our Advent-observance ought
to be?

True enough, too true, the new Life was not kept
pure. What river of Truth running through the world
ever was ? The Giver or His Apostles never promised
such a miracle. The old selfish kingdom crept back and
crowded into the Church. The promise was that the
Life, however perverted, should never be lost. It never
was. Again and again, when most in peril, it has reas-
serted its original healing power. It is slow work, but
it goes on. So every year, besides the millions who
praise the Lord that has come, millions more who do not
acknowledge Him are glad to live in the Christendom He
has created. There is a believing modern science, and
a believing modern literature. What is to be said of a
science and a literature which undertake to discredit the
Author of the age which makes their existence possible ?

But this is not all. Men have another kind of want.
Without the Life of God in them they become conscious


of their poverty and peril. Bad men know that they
are bad. A sense of guilt wakes up and torments them.
At least it haunts their dreams. The kingdom of
Christ's righteousness stands before them, witnessing
against them. The Life of God in the Son of Man judges
them. They feel it around them, though not within
them. They know what its holy fruits are, and that
they ought to be bringing them forth, and are not.
Through frivolous employments and dissipated nights
the irreligious youth, the flighty, prayerless woman, carry
with them a feeling, partly smothered, partly drugged,
but never dead, — a feeling that springs up again, comes
back, wakes in the night, seizes them when they are
alone, making them confess secretly that they are not
right, not safe, not friends with God ; and yet God is
Almighty. "What will the end be ? They are afraid to
look at themselves honestly. Perhaps they despise them-
selves and the hollow life they are living. They wish
they were out of it. The sense of sin that pours its con-
fession in the fifty-first Psalm, and cries out in the pub-
lican's prayer, is stirred in iliein. Had Christ not come,
that saving discontent might have slumbered still. In
heathendom they might have been content. Jesus said,
" If I had not done among them the works which none
other man did, they had not had sin." The unjust, un-
clean rich man looks round him on his broad estate, and
it does not satisfy. It shrinks, as he looks at some poor
brave neighbor filled with the life of Christ. A shadow
falls across all the comfort and splendor. It falls from
a dark spot within him. His experiment at living with-
out God is failing, and he is aware of it. What is it all
for ? It occurs to him that the coffin will be as indis-
pensable an article in the furniture of his house as any.
What then ? Will that be really the end ? Christ's

coming sunders the world of men into two sorts, right
and left. So, by thousands, men are revealed to them-
selves as sinful, — if left to themselves lost. IIow shall
they find peace, how be forgiven, how know that they
have God reconciled for their Friend ? That question,
too, Christ comes to answer. ]S"o other ever did, — no nat-
uralist, no moralist, no positive philosopher. Then it
appears that Christ came not only to live, and to give
life by living, but to die, and give life to men dead in
sin, by dying. He suifers. He bears the cross. Mys-
teriously but with a certainty that grasps and holds the
conviction of the believers of every age and land, that
suffering and that cross disclose the worth of a souFs life
so redeemed. The Divine Life is Love, a Love that is
willing to give a mortal life for undeserving, disobedient
brother-men. Law is not loosened ; it stands. The
eternal contradiction between right and wrong is not
confused. But in faith the penitent feels the love, and
lives. This is atonement. Christ comes to put away sins
by the sacrifice of Himself.

"We have infirmities which are not sins. In ways
partly known and partly unknown they may be fruits of
disobedience ; but they are not distributed among persons
in proportion to their deserving. Still, they are a part
of moral discipline. At its very best, this life is " com-
passed" with them. To the last tlie little ship sails
heavily freighted with sorrows. Of how many kinds
these sorrows are ! And then death separates us. The
good die young. The saints cease from their beneficent
service. The prophets do not live forever. Can we
bear it ? In imagination — thank God not otherwise — we
can put ourselves out into that bleak desert, a Christless
world. We ask there, and then ask here, will these
graves ever open ? Shall I see the lace of my mother,


my child, my friend, whose spirit was rich in the gifts
and graces of God ? See it in an eternity of blessed,
unbroken, undivided life ? I know that I shall. Jesus
Christ has come, has died, has risen from tlie dead.
Because He lives. His follower, one with Him, shall live
also. The resurrection is not only His. It is the res-
urrection of every believer on earth. The life-power is
common to both. It is within the Christian heart.
When the undying Christ liveth in us, we can never
die. Be His, and you are already immortal, mortality
being swallowed up of life. The glorious expectation
enlarges itself. In the day of His appearing you shall
appear, and with Him. '' We know not what we shall
be, but we know that we shall be like Him." We know
that none of us need die eternally. Countless house-
holds in every Christian country, knowing what it is to
mourn for the dead, awake this morning to worship a
risen Redeemer, and to realize the strength of the
beatitude, " Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall
be comforted." Let it come close to your bereavement.
" Thy brother shall rise again." You say, " Obscurity
overhangs the future state." Obscurity perhaps, but
not uncertainty. It is of the first Coming that we are
the children now, not of the second. Eye hath not seen
the place, the mode, the scenery, the employments. All
in due time; all in order. "We shall see as we are
seen ; know as we are known." Jesus Christ has come
for this, — a Helper of infirmities, holding us in the hand
of His most sure promise, till the day break and the
shadows flee away. We have seen the three-fold
character and power of Advent. It brings the life
of God into humanity ; forgiveness of sin and peace to
every faithful heart ; boundless and endless comfort to
sorrow, even though it be the sorrow of death.

Christ's first coming. 9

The drawback with all stated and repeated observ-
ances is that we keep them outwardly, not inwardly.
"We say over the religious words; we go through the
decent forms; perhaps we think the appropriate religious
thoughts. "Advent! Oh, yes; it is good to keep
Advent. It is well that Christ came " : — and we go
away with almost as little love of Him, almost as much
of the old selfishness, pride, passion, which He died to
deliver us from, as before ; almost as much uncharitable-
ness or insincerity dropping from our lips; to renew to-
morrow the poor life of getting, hoarding, competing,
being amused, eating, drinking, dressing, as if these
things were ends, — " without God."

What is it really to Iceep an Advent-season ? The re-
ligious repetition will not give us the Christ, whether as
the Kenower of the world's life, or the Pardoner of sin,
or tlie Conqueror of death. The worth of the observ-
ance is only that it helps us to a deeper, inner union
with our Lord, and likeness to Him. Words are not
saviours. Is this social state we live in such as Christ
came to frame? Is its spirit His? Are its fashions
moulded by the principles of His righteousness ? Your
daily business, — is it a Christian service ? Your family
manners and conversation, — are they such that if Christ
were to make His advent there. He would iind Himself
at home in your house ? Your hidden life, that secret
world within you which no housemate, neighbor, friend,
ever sees, the " inner man," — is it renewed day by day
so as, more and more brightly, to reflect His image?

It is remarkable that, while the Scriptures for Advent-
Sunday are greatly concerned with the august events to
which they point, we find in them searching directions
for our present, e very-day conduct ; rebukes for common
sins; familiar dangers mentioned by name. Examine

10 Christ's first coming.

tlie " Epistle " especially. What does it signify ? This,
without a doubt: that our true preparation for our
Lord's approach is holy living. Mark the ascending
scale. Debts are to be paid. Elementary command-
ments are to be re-studied down to their roots. The new
Christian year is to be the beginning of a new period of
spiritual life ; the young are to strike into a new line of
Christian action ; all are to set up higher standards of
Christian honor ; '^ the night is far spent " ; a " day " of
unprecedented splendor, lighting us on to unprecedented
labors, is mounting into the sky. And when all duties,
with their loftiest motives, are to be comprehended in a
single precept, it can be no other than this: "Put ye
on the Lord Jesus Christ."


Second Sunday in Advent.

" Wherefoee if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert ;
go not forth: behold He is in the seoret chambers, believe it not.
For as the lightning com^th out of the east, and shineth even unto
the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." — Matt.
xxiv. 26, 27.

I SHALL assume that there is some interest on your part,
and at the same time some uncertainty, as to what the
Scripture teaching of the future coming of the Son of
Man really is. Both have always been found to exist
among Christians, though the interest of the question has
been much livelier and more general at some particular
periods of the Church than others, being generally strong-
est in times of great social disturbance and danger, like
the several epochs of persecution under the Boman em-
perors, the first uprising of modern liberty in conflict with
European despotism, the struggles between the people
and the crown in England, involving the integrity of the
national Church, in the middle and latter part of the
seventeenth century, and again in the great social and
political agitations of our own day. Such intensely
wrought states of the public mind naturally direct the
attention forward to the final issue, giving activity and

Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonChrist in the Christian year and in the life of man : sermons for laymen's reading (Advent to Trinity) → online text (page 1 of 29)