F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

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devotion, breaks out in a characteristic exclamation
of superfluous submission, '^ Lord, not my feet only,
but also my hands and my head." With that even
dignity which will never suffer a breeze of emotion
to sway the balances of truth this way or that, never
will be elated by a gush of sentiment, or depressed
by the dullest unbelief, Christ at once abashes and
instructs him : ^' He that is washed needeth not save
to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." There is
a contrast in the words Christ used keener, more
concise and more complete than the English repre-
sents. Two verbs instead of one make the Greek
antithesis vivid and beautiful. He that has been
washed as the bather is washed needs not now to
have that chief and general cleansing repeated. In
the world of spiritual things there is a heavenly
order. Everything in its place ; one step at a time ;
duties are not to be jumbled together ; effusiveness
to-day will not make up for the self-occupied sullen-
ness, or wilfulness, or greediness of yesterday.
Learn, Simon Peter, that defect is not cured by ex-
cess. Every command must be met as it comes.
Every offence must cost you a fresh sacrifice of self-
sufficiency. A single ablution from hereditary or


past iniquity will not cleanse you from this frequent
defilement j nor will it excuse you from humiliation,
confession^ and prayer for pardon, as often as you let
temptation stain your heart. Duties are not meas-
ured by their dimensions ; the small are •sometimes
the hardest tests of a true discipleship. You are my
disciple already ; you forsook the world for me ; you
chose me when I chose you. But you are not be-
yond the danger of repeated fallings away from that
high consecration. We live in a dirty world. We
travel on a dusty highway. We breathe a poisoned
air. Society is full of contagions. An enemy lurk-
ing within conspires with the enemy that lurks on
the right hand and the left. Once you had to be
changed from bad to good, — in the main purpose, the
ruling motive, the prevailing drift, the deliberate
aim •, you have yet to be changed from good to bet-
ter. Even the branch that beareth fruit must be
purged — purged painfully — that it may bring forth
more fruit.

It follows that it is a special spur to increasing
vigilance and every- day faithfulness if a great act
of renewal — a self-consecration graciously owned and
accepted by the consecrating Spirit — -has once broken
the force of the tyrant tempter, once turned your


face from the dark to the light, ODce set your feet m
a large place, once delivered you from a base bond-
age into the glorious liberty of a son, or daughter, of
God. To have been lifted over from a faithless
because careless indifference to a foothold on the
side of Christ is indeed to hold a vantage-ground of
immense superiority. Worldliness itself cannot deny
that, however its frivolity may laugh off the secret
conviction, or its cynicism sneer at the weak con-
vert's inconsistencies. Madame Sevigne, from her
rank, beauty and brilliancy, was a favorable exam-
ple of the better sort of Parisian womanhood in the
seventeenth century. Her feeling about religion
was an uncultivated instinct. Impiety against her
Maker was a rather more dreadful danger than an
affront to the court or a violation of its fashions.
She wrote in one of her sprightly letters, " I belong
at present neither to Grod nor the devil, and I find
this condition very uncomfortable, though, between
you and me, the most natural in the world.'' But
nothing is really natural against which the nobler
elements of our mixed nature lift a solemn remon-
strance,— unheeded though it may be. If a heart
could belong neither to this world nor the other there
can at least be little doubt as to which is most likely


to take possession. No levity, no deafness of disbe-
lief, can silence the cry that forever sounds down to
ns from the heights, " Come out from among them,
and be ye separate." That cry has two parts, equally
commanding. If you have " come out,'' thank God
and take courage! .To keep yourself "separate"
and " unspotted," demands a longer conflict, a stricter
watch, a more patient and persistent and obedient
determination to be " clean every vfhit."

" Tliou passest by— Thy awful step I hear ;

Thou passest by— Thy five dread wouuds I see ;
Thou passest by— Thy saving cross I clasp
With peuiteutial tears of agony.

'' Thou passest by — I will not let Thee go
Until Thy mercy streams into my soul ;
I am sin-laden ; lift the burden off,

For Thou alone canst heal and make me whole.

" Thou passest by — I pray to be illumed

With grace and light; so shall the darkness flee,
And these dim eyes, Thou ascended Lord,
In rapture recognize and gaze on Thee ! "

/~\ GOD of hope, fill us, we beseech Thee, with all joy
^"^^ and peace in believing, and give to us ever-increasing
strength in obedience, that abounding in hope through the
power of the Holy Ghost we may steadily press on to those
good things which Thou hast promised to those that sliall
endure to the end ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



To make more vivid the spiritual conflict between
the two opposite powers, the Master and His adver-
sary, military images are multiplied. But there is a
possibility of their misleading us. After they have
been told of sword and shield, battle and blows, peo-
ple shut their Bibles or go out of church, and see
nothing of an enemy. Those martial metaphors, they
say, must refer to some experience that they have
never come to. What can they mean ? This afflu-
ent estate, the palatial house, the superb furniture,
the brilliant assembly, the merry feast, the eager
traffic; they all look innocent enough, amiable, peace-
able, friendly. There is no serpent's coil or tooth to
be seen anywhere among the roses and wines. Why,
this is the very flower of our civilization. This
^' Prince '' that you would frighten us about brings in
his train splendid gifts, handsome hospitalities, paint-
ings and music, refinement and comfort. If he hates


US and wants to destroy us, why does lie not come
with threat and challenge, with shot and bayonet, as
warriors come ? Ah, if he only would ! Then we
would be as brave as the bravest.

Take the more care. Watch with the keener vig-
ilance. If the tempter can disguise himself as an angel
of light, why not as a civilizer and educator, the ben-
efactor and brightener of society ? If he can gain
your heart and hide God from you and make you a
worshipper of yourself and turn you into a cultivated
and polished animal, gliding in between the gift and
the Giver, mixing the arsenic of death with the wine
of life, addling your brain while he drugs your con-
science with wicked elegance and indecent beauty,
— why not ? He knows his business. Half the
battle is to see the adversary. The prayer of the
Christian must be that of the Greek fighter. Give me
light on the field ! Do you pray that prayer I Do
you pray it even in the Forty Days, " with strong
crying and tears '' 1

Another snare lurks in the vagueness and general-
ity of words, the very words we have been using
here, words of warning and alarm. Everybody as-
sents to the sharp text with a construction, to the
sermon with an allowance for the professional phrase-


ologj. Men who intend to go on sinning put an
accommodating sense into the boldest rebuke. The
devil has a dictionary of his own. ''The world^ the
flesh and the devil ! " Why the pulpit has been
ringing the changes on that name of the trinity of
evil ever since the Gospel was preached. Let us
not be alarmed ! We will pay our pew tax, be civil
to the clergy, and go our worldly ways as before !
But where do the ways end 1

There are some worshippers not so willingly de-
ceived, not so meanly satisfied, seeking not indul-
gence in sin but escape from it and mastery over it,
keeping a true Lent, sworn to the truth, lead where it
will, followers of the One Master. Here and there is
a soul that wants to face the whole law, afraid only
of that hell that begins to burn in the guilty breast, —
some prosperous man of business, who would not have
his prosperity a disgrace or his house a mere hostelry
to eat and drink and sleep in; some trader who holds
his '' talent " a trust to be mtdtiplied and answered
for ; some inheritor of a large estate who feels that
he is a steward under the Divine Owner, and is
anxious to learn the duty of his stewardship ; or here
is a young man at the beginning of his career ex-
pecting success and thinking how to make it honora-


ble, by uniting a manly use of his sagacity with an
unostentatious consecration of his wealth to humanity
and a steady preservation of what is most royal in
his manhood f or here is a womanly woman, with time
or money or power, too high-hearted and pure-
hearted to live down to little aims or wasting dissipa-
tions. These persons are longing to ascend into a
finer air. They have had enough of soft words and
an outside piety. They will be glad of a fresh inspi-
ration from the hills of God. There is a vision of
those two contending kingdoms, and the practical
question with them is how to live worthily. ^' There
came one running to Jesus/' rich and a ruler, *^ say-
ing, What good thing shall I do that I may inherit
eternal life ? "

We need not spin out a very long answer. First,
try to form an idea, for yourself, of what, for you, that
besetting sin or forbidden thing is. Put one part of
your Lord's teaching with another, study it, think
about it, and make out an honest meaning. He knew
God, eternity. His disciples' hearts, the worst of men
and the best, the woman of Samaria and His mother,
Pilate, the city, Herod's court, the Sanhedrim. He
knew ^^ the world" better than the most accomplished
'' man of the world " knows it. And, over and over



again, out of His great love, He moves jou and me to'v ^
watch, to resist, to overcome — Letter yet, to see to it
that the bad power, come when or how it will to us,
finds nothing in us of its own. So speaks the whole
New Testament. So does the Church all along.
Find out what ways and doings, what talk and dress
and indulgences in society hurt your spiritual life, or
becloud your intercourse with God. Inquire how
your treatment of any class or creature among your
fellowmen compares with Christ's, your Master's,
treatment of the poor servant, the publican, the Mag-
dalen, Simon Peter, His tormentors. Call up one
particular after another in this social life around you
for judgment — not the people but the life, the prod-
igality, the pride, the contempt, the insincerity.
Gradually you will see that the two kingdoms are
hoth there, close by you ; that there is a line between
them ; and you can find, if you will, where, for you
at least, the line runs. Having found it, stand on
the hither side of it, no matter what it costs, no mat-
ter what public opinion, sarcasm, fashion, all mankind
may say. Keep the line sharp. Blurring it over is
disobedience. Standing on the hither side, the Prince
of the world will find nothing or less and less in


We find also that occupation with good is the best
overcoming of evil. The way to keep the lower life
out is to bring the higher life in, filling the soul
with it up to the brim. Better than a constant skir-
mishing with the enemy down on his own level is an in-
ward frame so full of Christ, so alive to noble inspira-
tions, so busy about the Father's business, that temp-
tation, when it comes, finds no door open. Christ was
proof against the darkness because He was Himself the
Light. Spread your feast, load your tables, mam-
mon, here is a Guest, coming in from heaven, who has
meat to eat that your markets know not of — not fruit
in baskets from any Sychar. You shall not live by
bread only. Satan tries three times, and gives up,
baffled, having nothing in that holy heart. Angels
enter in, find room, and minister. The great souls
we read of, their minds peopled with divine thoughts
and clean affections, not dallying with things forbid-
den, just, patient, seeing God everywdiere, standing
well back from that border-line of iniquity — these
not only overcome evil in the struggle, they overcome
it with the good in them before it arrives.

The conflict is personal and private, seldom public.
The public reform will come afterwards, little by lit-
tle, in simplicity of manners, moderate amusements,


high standards, lowly social pretentions, in char-
ity, chastity, honesty. But think of others. Your
personal lives touch one another and leave their mark.
The acquaintance may be slight, the meetings few,
but when all stand together at the last you will see
that your own life lifted or lowered some forgotten
lives about you. Think not only what you can safely
do or afford in yourself, but what may tempt or em-
bitter or corrupt those other souls, especially the
young. When you say, in palliation of a dubious
fashion, '' To the pure all things are pure," consider
mercifully that in every company there are hearts
not pure, only struggling not to sink. Woe to you
if you drag them doAvn ! *^ Evil to him who evil
thinks,'^ you say. It is a cold-blooded maxim. The
^^evil" is in you, and you are the Evil One^s guilty
minister if you so behave yourself that you start in
man or woman evil thoughts. For there are imclean
and low-lived things which are handsome to the eye,
but which make it easier to live for ourselves, and the
baser part of ourselves, harder to live on high with
the " pure in heart " who ^^ see God." Let the Prince
come and let him go; let him sneer at your sacrifices
and wonder at your satisfactions ; let him gather up
his purple and fine linen and leave you out of his re-


ceptions. For you there is the meat which he knows
not of, and there are places prepared by the Master
of the feast. An uncompromising conscience, a fear-
less faith, these are for you ^'the victory that over-
cometh the world.'' When the Prince cometh, look-
ing in on that heart, he sees nothing of his own, and
falls conquered at your feet.

" Our God, our Father, Tvitli us stay,
And make us keej) Thy narrow way;
Free us from sin and all its i)Ower;
Give us a joyful dying hour ;
Deliver us from Satan's arts,
And let us build our hopes on Thee,
Down in our very heart of hearts !
O God, may we true servants be.
And serve Thee ever perfectly.
Help us, with all Thy children here,
To tight and flee with holy fear ;
Flee from temptation, and to fight
With Thine own weapons for the right;
Amen, amen, so let it be !
So shall we ever sing to Thee.

XTTE entreat Thee, God of all wisdom and Fountain of all
goodness, that Thou wilt show us the right way, and
incline us steadily and faithfully to walk in it. Engage all
our powers and faculties in observing Thy commandments.
Make our bodies fit temples for Thy Holy Spirit to dwell in, so


that, with temperance and purity, all our desires and appetites
may he suhdued to Thine incorruptible will, and no excess or
sloth darken our minds or deaden our consciences. Teach us to
prize honor more than comfort, and usefulness to our fellow-men
more than their favor. Lift us above a weak or wicked fear of
human opinions. Set us free from foolish fashions and wrong
customs. Kestrain us from following any multitude to do evil.
Grant us patience whenever we are provoked, courage when
we are ready to despair, and perseverance unto the end. May
nothing ever seem too hard for us to do, or to suffer, in follow-
ing Him, oar crucified and glorified Master, who bore the cross
and laid down His life for us. And this we beg in the name of
Him, our Redeemer, who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth
and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen,



Even in the natural material world, a great army of
physical maladies come against us, and are too much
for us. We are not equal to these mighty forces in
the earth. Severities of climate, flood and fire, the
malaria in the air — they harm, they drown, they
poison us. Experience, science, books and doctors
help us a little } but when they have done their best
we know not much more about the causes of things
in the universe we live in than children sporting in
the palace-yard know of the counsels of the royal
court within. Years of toil bring one a few hand-
fuls from the boundless wealth of land and sea. We
call it property, use a part of it rather awkwardly a
little while, wish we had more, mourn over what
we have, and succumb to death.

Accidents mangle us. Our friends and helpers
look on helpless. Not being masters of Nature we
are weary striving with her ; and not being her inno-

riRST MO.yDAY. 43

cent children we are never at rest on her bosom.
In fact, in Nature there is for man no such thing as
rest ; there is no Heaven in man's natural life. The
whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain to-
gether, restlessly waiting for the manifestation of
the serene son of God,

It is so also in the social world. Look from the
outside at almost any party of pleasure. The surface
is a sea of sunshine, waves of song and laughter rip-
pling over it. But underneath there are dismal
abysses of anxiety, tortures of disappointment and
disquiet. The guests are afraid of one another, and
the host is afraid of the guests, and the most are
wondering whether they have held their own and
done their best. It is because there are not personal
resources enough to make success sure. Intellectu-
ally we are like the blind man by the roadside, wish-
ing our eyes might be opened, seeing only glimpses
of light, and reading only margins of the mysterious
page. Physically, we are like the lame man at the
Temple gate, begging not of Apostles but of the
apothecary, of the physician, of tlie seashore, of the
mountains. Morally, we are like the publican or the
woman at Simon's table, only that we are too often
less blessed than they because without their humility


and tears. Yes, the Lord knew ! It is weary Avork
and weary play ; striving, complaining, calculating,
clutching, and failing after all. Who tells you he
has succeeded ? As pitiful a document as I ever
read in my life was the private letter of one of the
two or three most brilliant and most honored states-
men that this whole nation has ever known, declar-
ing his whole course a mortifying disappointment,
and saying he could look with composure on only two
hiding-places, — a lonely chateau in some secluded
valley of Switzerland, or a grave at Mount Auburn.
More celebrity, more compliments, a higher office,
finer pageants, a showier style ! You '^ labor " for
them ; you are ''heavy laden" with care or pride if
you get them ; you are '^ heavy laden " with vexa-
tion and envy if you do not. Did not the Master
know the heart He spoke to, and the world He came
to save ? Come unto Me from the market-places, and
the mountains, and the sea ; from the crowds and the
solitudes ; from the public strife and shame of the
nation 5 ^ from secret fear and grief ; from broken
cisterns that can hold no water, — Come, and in my
Life, in my Faith, my Hope, my Charity, in Me, your
soul shall rest.

These are only illustrations, and we must come


down to the one real root of all the misery. The
inward world shapes and makes the outer one. If it
were not for sin, life would be, if not a perpetual vic-
tory, at least easy. Desire and attainment would be
equal. All those bitter and countless kinds of wretch-
edness which come of evil within, unkindness, injus-
tice, lust, intemperance, disobedience, cruelty, idle-
ness, every vice and every crime would disappear.
They all came in when Nature failed at the Fall ;
and nothing but a new order, redemption, can heal
them. It requires the one cross of infinite sharpness
and heaviness to lighten all the million million crosses
that agonize the sinning race.

Look back a moment to the Garden in Genesis.
There was nothing of what we now call labor. There
was service going on. Adam was not idle in Eden.
*^ The Lord God put him into the garden, to dress it
and to keep it." But the work was not greater than
the workman's power.

*' To prune these growing plants and tend these flowers,"

Milton writes, —

"No more toil
Of their sweet gardening-labor then sufficed
To recommend cool zephyrs and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite.''


The *^ sweat of the brow/' symbol of suffering and
curse of transgression, was not yet. Instead of the
fret and friction of excessive tasks, CYerything was
done in a style of liberty. It was perpetual recrea-
tion, easy as to breathe and exhilarating as a game.
The world without and the world within were in har-
mony. Transgression broke everything into confu-
sion. The very materials wrought upon became
tough and obstinate. Things presented their rough
edges and wrong ends first. "Thorns also and this-
tles/' just as God predicted, "the earth brought
forth ; " but then the thistle-seed and the sting of the
thorn were first in the guilty soul. Men and women
had to learn what hardship and lack of sympathy
and a thousand other living sacrifices are, labor that
is labor, burdens that are burdens. And then began
the long human sigh for " rest." Then began the
prophetic promise, — " There remaineth a rest," —
Sabbatisraos — "for the people of God." Far off
at Bethlehem, the " Seed of the woman/' born in a
mortal mother's pain, despised and rejected, dying
in the torments of crucifixion, must " bruise the ser-
pent's head." In himself man was no longer equal
to his original destiny. He fell from it a fractured,
disordered, heavy-laden creature, never to rise but


as he should be lifted from above through faith in his
Deliverer. The sting of death ^ the sting of birth, the
sting of sick-beds, of business and failure in business,
and of all mortal life is sin. To see what ought to
be done, and not to do it, — to feel what a perfect life
of love would be, and not to live it, — is not this the
bitterness of a crippled and yet an aspiring will ?

The old Bible words are law and transgression.
What ought to be done is the law; our not doing it is
the transgression. Through that rent in God's order
have crept in all the downfalls of mankind. You
read St. PauPs marvellously vivid description of the
unsuccessful struggle of man's conscience to keep
God's commandment, and it is the story of your fail-
ure. The more law you get, if law is all you get,
the more infirmity comes to light. To speak of rest
is mockery. All along through the Prophets runs
the minor music of this majestic lamentation. Many
of the Psalms are a Miserere over it. Hebrew history
is a kind of wailing cry all through. '•'■ I cannot save
myself; who shall deliver me ? I am dying ; who
shall give me life ? I see goodness, and it is divinely
beautiful ; but in the very light of it I see that I am
not good." For any man, for you, for me, there is
no labor, no burden like this. Give man rest from


that, and you will give him salvation, and put the
song of everlasting life upon his lips. Christ de-
scended into a whole creation groaning and travailing
with this burden, and amidst its awful helplessness
and despair uttered His gracious and masterful word
of mercy, — ^' Come unto me, and this long, deadly
conflict shall end. Take My forgiveness, and choose
My eternal Life, and this will give you rest.''

'^ No good
Or glory of tbis life but comes by pain.
How poor were eartb ii all its martyrdoms,
If all its struggling sigbs of sacrifice
Were swept awaj^, and all were satiate — smooth ;
If tbis were sucb a beaven of soul and sense
As some baA^e dreamed of; and we biiman still.
Nay. we were fasbioned not for perfect peace
In tbis world, bowsoever in tbe next ;
And wbat we win and bold is tbrougb some strife."

/~\ MOST Merciful Lord, wbo bast pity on tbe pain of tbe
^"^ wbole creation, wbo bealest tbe inward man by outward
afflictions, and wbo, by troubles in tbis world, dost prepare us
for eternal joys, by tbat cup of sorrow which Thou drankest

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonForty days with the Master → online text (page 2 of 16)