F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

Forty days with the Master online

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There is an inward thirst that is conscious and a
thirst that though unconsious is not the less actual
and significant. There are souls that long for God
without knowing what they long for ; and there are
souls that, because they have begun to know and love
God, long for Him the more. In the outer man thirst
is natural and involuntary, a felt want of a needy
and dependent bodily life. In the inner man it is a
felt want of a needy and dependent spiritual life. One
of the most striking of all expressions of it comes
from a man who had found out by an extraordinary
experience what is just as true of persons less ex-
traordinary, when the two wants^ — the inner and the
outer — join their cries together : ^ My soul is athirst
for God ; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the
living God.^'

Think who it was that made this confession. The


greatest king of a great nation, so magnificent in his
royalty that he was made a typo of the Almighty
King to come, to whom all the kingdoms of the earth
belong. He was the greatest poet, too, of a poetical
people, — singing such hymns to his harp that the
whole Church of God, for nearly three thousand
years, down to this very day, has kept on repeating
them as the ceaseless and inexhaustible liturgy of its
worship, because all its great ranks of intellects could
make nothing like them. Such a man as this, a sol-
dier, a monarch and a minstrel without a peer, hav-
ing the Empires of military conquest, political power
and literary fame at his feet, feels himself weak and
empty and thirsty before God. Granaries filled with
the finest of the wheat of fertile Palestine do not fill his
hunger. The kingly power does not make him strong.
The matchless music does not give him peace. The
fountains of ]\Iount Moriah and all the wines of the
eastern vineyards do not slake a whit this other thirst
He knows what both thirsts are. Following the
sheep as a shepherd-boy over Jesse's pastures he
often got beyond the streams, and then he learned to
say, ^'As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so
longeth my soul after Thee.'*' In his wars and
marches, hunted by Saul and the Philistines, fleeing


from one mountain-cave to anotlier, he panted like
the deer he chased. Nothing in all the romance of
any literature is more beautiful than the graceful
adventure of the young heroes who followed him,
breaking through the enemy^s lines to get water for
him, their leader, and then his pouring it out on the
ground, as the costliest sacrifice he could offer, a gift
of gratitude to Jehovah, and yet these sufferings only
furnished him the agony to describe the keener long-
ings of a penitent heart.

For, take notice, whatever the terrible agonies
that David went through may have finally marZe him,
in the purifying of his spirit, till at last he came to be
called ^' a man after God's own heart,'' he certainly,
in all that brilliant career where we behold him in
his biography, was not at all what we understand by
a saint. It is just there that a very common mistake
is made. It was not because he was far exalted
above the ordinary mass of men, in holiness or talent
or station, but exactly the contrary, because he was
a sinner like ourselves, was tempted and yielded to
temptation, was ashamed of his iniquity, humiliated
by his infirmity, tormented and terrified by his con-
science, that he thirsted. It was because he rcmera-
bered transgressions and crimes in his guilty days,


such as none of us have committed. It was because
he had found out that all his self-confidence was but
a moving cloud, and his childhood's innocence like the
early dew before a parching sun. It was because
remorse had burnt it into him that he could do noth-
ing, except blunder and fall, if he was left to himself.
Judging by the fifty-first psalm, there has been no
repentance on earth more thorough-going than his.
On that ground he and we meet together. What
he said we can say. What he felt, though his heart
was under a royal robe, we can feel, — our mortal
nothingness, our inability to cope with each day's
dangers, our utter dependence on the grace of God.
Helps we have that he had not. He was but the son
of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, after all, and had never
heard, — what every worshipper in Christ's Church
has heard, — the divine story that afterwards began
at that same Bethlehem and ended at the cross. He
knew not the true Master and Redeemer, as we know
Him. He only knew that he needed Him in his
heart and in his flesh. Blessed are they that know
that now !

How is it that every human soul cries out for
God ? Is there any true sense in which it may be
said that men of every sort, good men and bad


men and women, ^^ professors of religion^' and pro-
fane neglecters of its ordinances alike, thirst for the
living God ?

This much, at least, we all have in common.
We have within us, as we may be sure, one human
heart. Our Maker has put into every one of us a
want of Himself. As He comes towards us in the liv-
ing Person of His Son, there are voices of His own
living Spirit within us, whether we heed them or not,
pleading for Him. There are in every part of our
being, secret thirstings and hungerings which noth-
ing in the world short of Christ Himself, made our
friend by faith, can satisfy. We may be too blind to
see or too careless to consider what they mean. But
this is what they mean . ^^ Come unto Me, ye that
labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest; "
^' Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give
him shall never thirst again : " ^^ He that belie veth
in Me shall never die." Nothing less than this is the
signification of these divinely kindled desires for the
living God. We can take no credit for them. Our
Father, in the great love wherewith He loved us be-
fore we loved Him, planted them in us, to draw us
towards Christ, starting us in the road that leads to
honor and glory and immortality. If we despise


them, they will appear among our accusers in the

We need not travel far out of ourselves to hunt up
arguments for the truth of our religion. Were we
clearly conscious, as by prayer and faith we might
be, of what we are, and what is going on within us,
we should want no ai*tificial evidences of the reality
of the Gospel. God has written one Scripture and
put it into our hands, to be our Book of Life. In the
midst of its older Testament stands this: " My soul
thirsteth for the living God.'^ That is the prophecy.
In the midst of His mediatorial ministry Jesus sits
weary by the well, saying, '^ Whosoever shall drink
of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst."
That is the fulfilment. At the close of the Revela-
tion of St. Johii, the curtains being lifted before the
long succession of sinning and fainting souls to come^
travelling homesick toward the great hereafter,
the last apostle exclaims, ^^ He showed me a pure
river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out
of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Let him that
is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take
the water of life freely.'' That is the universal invi-
tation. Another Scripture He has written in the
spirit of man. Silently, but perpetually, it preaches


to each of us its sermon for our salvation, — Come,
and live. Some of you have not come. You think
you have escaped the voice. But no ! the voice is
within you. It goes where you go, and you must hear
it to the last. At Athens, when St. Paul preached
on Mars Hill, in the centre of the learning and life
of the eastern and western world, he said to the
Greeks, " Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship,
Him declare I unto you.'' Something like that is
true for all unbelieving men.

*' Low beside some fountain streaming

I have knelt to drink,
There to quench my thirsty dreaming

At its luring brink;
Thou didst trouble then the waters,

Till I turned aside,
And I knew it was an angel

Touched its failing tide.
Now tne living fountain given

Rises in its pi ace,
And I rise from earth to heaven,

Seeking, Lord, Thy face ! "

/^ CHRIST JESUS, pour Thy grace upon us, we humbly en-
^^ treat Thee; give us of the fulness of Thy grace ; grant ua
love, purity, lowliness and patience; satisfy us with Thy mercy;
and make us so truly to love Thee and without all doubt or
deceit to glory in Thee, that we may draw perfect joy and
peace from Thee alone, who livest with the Father and the
Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.



The Master ^' seeing the multitudes went up into a
mountain." And '' He came down from the mount."
He did that again and again. It forms a striking
feature of His life. It must have been a necessity of
His ministry and His Mediation. Society and soli-
tude are conditions of a complete experience. In
those three years of divine-human work which started
the history of our race from a new beginning, and
changed both the face and the heart of the world,
there was nothing accidental.

Without doubt, in the change from publicity to
retirement, and again from inaction to labor, our
Lord found a personal refreshment. Such alterna-
tion between contact with people and a silent seclu-
sion seems to come under a law that runs through
body, mind and spirit. With most of us the continual
presence and pressure of neighbors, the social strain,
jostle and chatter, become at last tiresome and ex-


hausting. There is a sense of waste. On the other
hand, the same persons in prolonged and monotonous
loneliness grow morbid and miserable. The same
man longs to be alone, and to see faces and hear
voices. Our Lord was a man. In His thoroughly
human sensibility, with our nerves, sympathies,
moods, lie too must come under the same law, need-
ing rest after toil, and activity after repose.

But the meaning is deeper. His presence with
men was something more than mortal work, and His
retirement was more than mortal rest. To Him
what did ^' the multitude " signify ! An untiring,
unrewarded ministration of those gifts which He
brought from the Father, a service of self-forgetful
charity, a steady, sad accomplishment of the end
for which He left the heavenly glory. What sore,
straitening work it was ! Sowing precious seed
on stony ground ; miracles of mercy that roused only
a selfish and stupid gratitude ; homeless travels j
gracious helps held out which nobody accepted, and
promises made which nobody understood j timid fol-
lowers turning back ; enmities provoked by unutter-
able tenderness f abuse, scorn, rejection, accusations
of blasphemy ! So He wrought all the day for ^^ the
multitude." He carried all this work up with Him


in His heart to the ^^ mountain." There alone He
was to draw down out of the healing silence and in-
finite spaces, by direct communion with the heart of
His Father, renewed supplies, wisdom for the teach-
ing, power for the miracle, courage for the rebuke,
patience for the pain. So He watched and waited
in the still midnight. From thence, in the morning,
from those high places of spiritual vision, elevations
of the soul figured to our minds by hill-tops far
above the fume and fret of men's frictions and dis-
putings, by heights of land where the shadows of
deep woods are blended with the mystery of sky and
stars, — He was to bring fulfilments of the prophecy
which had sounded along the same heights, " Peace
an earth, good will to men." Such were the incom-
ings and outgoings of His wondrous, redeeming life,
the ascending of His prayers and the descending of
His grace, the worship in the mount and the service
in market-places and highways, a divine will and
human hands, each helping the other, and both
working out together new heavens and a new earth.

This habit of the Master, or rather the message
proceeding from it, in its practical operation is larger
yet. What was a fact in His personal life becomes
a guide in the life of the whole Church, and in the


life of every individual Christian. Because our
Christian duty has just these two aspects. Eegarded
as a living force within us ^^ the faith of the Gospel"
is a treasure received by the faith of the heart, and
it is a power of service to be put forth. A river of
the water of life looks up to the spring it flows from
and on to the fields it fertilizes. Mountain and mul-
titude have a mutual relation, and exercise a recip-
rocal ministry. There is an altar-and-closet religion
and there is an out-of-door religion ; but these two
are one. An unfruitful asceticism on one side and a
prayerless philanthropy on the other would pull them
apart. Those holy journeys of weary feet to the
hills were no fanatic pilgrimages in spiked shoes to
shrines of superstition. Those solitary hours were
no retreat for barren reverie. They were as practi-
cal, in the larger and deeper view of what is practi-
cal, as the touch of the Lord's hand on the palsied
and fevered sufferers in the city street or the wash-
ing of poor men's feet. Who knows that the blind
would have been made to see, the lame to walk,
publicans and sinners lifted out of their degradation,
the Beatitudes proclaimed, the dead raised, but for
those nights of prayer ? In the Son of Man sanctu-
ary and workshop are made to open into one another 5


and in each He is equally at home and equally ap-
proachaljle. Not more perfectly harmonized are the
Godward and manward look of the one Gospel of
Love in the double commandment which is the evan-
gelizing of the whole law than in the passing to and
fro of the Mediator between the multitude of men
and the mount of God.

" For thirty years to work with human hands
While love divine was yearning to express
The Infinite God's Heart which, grieving, longed
All weakness, sin and sorrow to redress !

Those patient, holy hands which humbly toiled,

Made lowly work for evermore confess
Work's innate worth, and, while He hallowed it,

He raised it to the height of nobleness."

'* 'Tis well to watch, all through these lonely hours
In the sad garden and beneath the cross ;
'Tis well to give up something for our Lord
Who gave up all and counted life a loss.

'' Yet, we may fill these quiet weeks of prayer
With sweetest charities for other's need;
With deeds and words of earnest Christlike love
Then shall we do God's work in very deed.

** With gentle home-work, doing all for love,
Making some'life the better for our own ;
Smoothing some path for other feet to tread,
Cheering some heart that has to work alone.


*' fc-o shall we live the nearer to our Lord,

So shall we labor through these Lenten hours :
Till Easter suns shall hail the golden day,
And joyful hands shall wreath the Easter flowers."

£^ MOST merciful Master, Christ, who hast bidden us to enter
^^ into the closet that we may seek Thee and find Thee in the
secret place, and who hast commanded us to work while the
day lasts in the field of Thy vineyard, grant, we beseech Thee,
that we may follow Thee obedientfy, both in prayer and labor,
that we may be strengthened with might from the mountain
of Thy holiness and directed in all our service to our fellow-
men, the children of Thy Father and our Father, unto whom,
with Thee and the Holy Ghost, we render all honor and praise,
world without end. Amen.


ixitix ^umim*


The call ^' come " lias been sounded out over the
earth in the ears of fifty generations of laboring,
heavy-laden, restless men and women 5 and yet so
many are tired, heavy-laden and restless still, it
would seem that there must be some misunderstand-
ing of the message. May it not be that a mistake
attaches to the motive presented for the coming ?
To those who will choose Him, trust Him, and follow
Him, Christ promises rest. If only a dreamy, sooth-
ing sentiment of repose steals over us as we read that
promise, it will not move, it will not satisfy, it will
not save the world. Indolent as many of us are, and
weary as all of us sometimes are, there is something
in us, after all, that makes us ashamed of easy aims.
Even ordinary minds will turn away disgusted from
a Gospel that offers them nothing but indulgence.
To souls in earnest there comes a time, sooner or
later, when they know that they ought to be uneasy,


when they long" for inward power, for purity, for
righteousness, more than for comfort. In such loftier
moments we say, '^ Give us a truth that will rouse us
and yield us strength for work; do not talk to us of a
Mahometan's heaven of idleness ; we want a Gos-
pel that will stir our energies, and inspire our lives
to action, even if it costs hardship and causes us to
carry a cross." Our Lord meets this better longing
in many ways. He gives a new, original, and pro-
founder meaning to this word ^^rest.'^

Three companies might be formed, no doubt, in
ahnost any religious assembly of those who have not
struck definitely into the way and work of the Chris-
tian life, coming for it to Him in whom it originates
and of whom alone it can ever be had.

First are those who arc satisfied, for the j)resent,
or imagine they are, with a kind of life which is in
no honest sense the life of the Son of God; i. e.. His
spirit of self-denying charity does not inspire and
animate them ; His command does not control them;
and they hold no trustful or loving communications
with Him. So far the great spiritual realities, — a
personal God, the law of righteousness, the glorious
beauty of holiness in the character of Christ, sin,
judgment, the need to be forgiven, — have not smit-


ten or shaken them, or broken the bright but unsub-
stantial dream which makes the world of the senses
sufficient. We may not look at this pathetic specta-
cle, a heart lost without knowing it is lost, a gay
surface and close below it terrible sufferings with
such unutterable sadness and sympathy as the Saviour
does, because we have neither His infinite love nor
His penetrating eyes to see all through and through
the misery that is gathering and storing up ; but
none of us would think of applying to a life so shal-
low or so frivolous the word '^ rest," however merry
or prosperous it might be.

Next are those who do not pretend to be satisfied,
far enough from it, but have not yet done making
experiments at it of their own, the same that have
been going on ever since the self-will of the first man
and woman broke away from God in Eden, in pleas-
ure or pride, sensual prodigality, social prodigality,
intellectual prodigality, of which the other names are
dissipation, extravagance and unbelief. Conscience
is not dead, but slowly dying, its disorder causing
fearful pains before it finally expires. These are not
brave enough or believing enough to arise and come,
repenting and thankful, to the Giver of life; and cer-
tainly they are not ^^ at rest.''


The third^ a company much larger than it ought
to be after our eighteen centuries of heavenly grace
on the earth, is made up of the victims of religious
discontent. There is misunderstanding because there
has been misinstraction. Nothing is clear. They
thought they were going to be happy, but their bodies
ache, and their hearts ache, like other people's ; they
are afraid to die; they have doubts; they are puzzled
by the problems of Providence ; they are not sure
about answers to their prayers. Certain religionists
tell them they must feel a great deal, but give them
nothing to do, while the world with a much shrewder
policy gives them a plenty to do, and then feeling
takes care of itself. If they are Christians at all they
are Christians of a complaining, half-hearted and
second-rate sort, not much like those staunch disci-
ples, of tranquil faith and joyful self-forgetfulness
whose portraits are painted on the Scripture pages.

To these three restless ranks the Master patiently
renews His great invitation, as long as the day lasts.
And now here again in these Forty Days He is
saying, " Come to Me," — there is only one rest, —
ye that labor with your hands, your brain or your
heart ; ^ ^ I will give you rest."

What is it that He offers ? Observe He is not


speaking of the next world, but of life here. What
will He give now, at once, and all along ? A very
common idea of rest is that it is to stop work, to cease
from effort, and do nothing. Is this the grand pro-
posal from Heaven for man ? How could He, the
mightiest workman that ever touched the earth, the
everlasting Laborer, promise that sort of rest to His
people ?

We are not so to understand Him. Looking
deeper into all hearts and lives than we do He saw
that most of our unhappiness springs from one of
two sources ; either that some duty is demanded of
us which is not done, or else that burdens are put
upon us which we are not willing to bear. On these
two sore spots come the strain and the sorrov/, the
worst wear and tear, every day. Both the active
and passive parts of our nature, the active by " labor "
and the passive by being ^^ heavy-laden," are over-
tasked. We suffer by what we have to do, and we
suffer by what we have to endure.

The longer we think about it the plainer this will
be. It is the inequality between what we are and
what is required of us, or what we have and what
we want, that is the secret of our restlessness and
the tragic element in human life. We do not over-


take what we are running after^ and are weary. Our
shoulders are not as broad and hard as the cross laid
on, and we are heavy laden. Hence, from Adam
going out of the gate of the natural Paradise to the
Second Adam and His new creation, and from our
own first cry in our mother's arms to the last convul-
sion, in all the chambers and the streets, the churches
and the markets, the banquets and the battle-fields,
humanity cries, O, make me equal to my needsj
take away the disproportion, call it weakness
or call it sin ! Whoever will do that will be a

Go out into the thoroughfares of the busy town and
ask the men you meet what tires them. In the par-
ticular form of words the answers may be as many as
the men, but under them all is one and the same
sense. The man and the task are not equal. Neces-
sity demands more, the passion for property thirsts
for more, ambition aspires to more, the family ask for
more, employers exact more than ability or time or
skill can accomplish. If all were balanced, business
and toil would be like play. The child at his lesson,
the mother of the household, the banker, the politi-
cian, the preacher, the seamstress, look and sigh and
wish they had more strength. Muscles and nerves


are worn by friction and fatigue at night and are not
always rested in the morning.

And so in the midst of them all, in the ^^ noon and
heat of the day," in shops, in fields, in high and lowly
houses^ at theentry of the city, at fashionable watering-
places, by the wells of human learning, by pools of
human blood, by voiceless graves, and at every
heart's door, our Master Christ meets us and offers
rest to all that will take it, — '•^ whosoever will.'' As
of old, some believe and some believe not. We will
see to-morrow more of the pain^ and more of the

*' My bauds are vreary, toiling on,

Day after day, for perisliable meat ;
O city of our God ! I fain would rest, —
I sigh to gain tliy glorious mercy-seat,

** My eyes are weary looking at the sin,
Impiety, and scorn upon the eartb;
O city of our God ! within thy walls
All, all are clothed again with thy new hirth.

*' My heart is weary of its own deep sin,—
Sinning, repenting, sinning still again ;
When shall my soul Thy glorious presence feel,
And find, dear Saviour, it is free from staiii ?


'* Patience," poor soul! the Saviour's feet were womj
The Saviour's heart and hands are weary too;
His garments stained, and travel-worn, and old ,*
His vision blinded with a pitying dew.

" Love thou the path of sorrows that He trod;
Toil on, and wait in pctience for thy rest;
O city of our God ! we soon shall see
Thy glorious walls,— home of the loved and blest.

"OLESSED Lordj who through all the days and nights of Thy

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonForty days with the Master → online text (page 11 of 16)