F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

Forty days with the Master online

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It is very much the way of those who seek to
stimulate their hearers or pupils to a nobler style of
living, to set before them the examples of the great,
and they are apt to find those examples in conditions
so removed from the ordinary lot, so singular in
original genius, in exceptional gifts, or in illustrious
circumstances, as to take them out of the range of
common comparison, sympathy, and even aspiration.
They point to these signal instances of lofty achieve-
ment, celebrated in the Bible or memorable in his-
tory, inspired perhaps as prophets, or evangelists, or
apostles, heroic missionaries, heroic reformers, saints
whose heads are encircled with a nimbus of glory, as
patterns to be imitated. And then the obscure toils-
man, the diffident housewife, the timid beginner in
the hard up-hill struggle, make their silent, discour-
aged answer : '^ What is all this to the needs and
failures of a common heart like mine ? It is all very


well for you to glorify these splendid lives, and to
tell lis we, too, ought to be heroes and saints. But
what is it that you expect of us. ? Here we are
in a commonplace age, an ordinary community,
homely houses, e very-day drudgeries, and we
are no better, or brighter, or wiser, or stronger
than the average. To-morrow morning we have
got to take our work up just where we lay it
down to-night. If you can help us there, we are
very glad; but do not expect us to be famously
virtuous, or transcendently devout, or heroic in the
eyes of our neighbors, or memorable in the years to
come. It will be quite as much as we can do to get
through this fretting life decently, and be put into
our coffins without disgrace. Preach to us as we are.
Show us what the faith and the Church can do for us
in our actual condition ; and make us better if you

Very well, then, our Divine Master meets us ex-
actly on that ground, and we ought to be willing to
meet Him there. He never tells us to be like the
great men of the world, the geniuses, the prodigies,
the famous, the mighty, the men of learning or rep-
utation or " success.'' He sets us no examples
among the Pharisees, Scribes or rulers. He simply


places Himself by our side, and sliows us a perfect
life, God^s life on earth in man, and He says, ^^ You
are to be saints and heroes, every one of you, in the
only true sense, just where you are. That is the
reason why I have come to you where you are." He
uses no compulsion, no violence. He does not put
His power in the place of your liberty. Whoever
lives the heroic or saintly life will do it of his own
choice, his free will. There is no manhood, woman-
hood, character otherwise. Every person here can
do it if he will. Your age, your social position, your
sex, your business, your past life, the people you live
with; have no controlling voice in this grand deci-
sion. To live with the Master, to live like Him, to
live for Him, to help some one near you to live so,
this is royalty, this is sanctity, and this is what the
King of kings and the great High Priest means when
He tells the least of His followers that they may be
kings and priests unto God.

*^ By the old aspirants glorious,
By the brave hearts hoping all,
The believers made victorious,
In the Faith heroical ;
By Thy dearest,
By Thj Samuel and Thy Paul,


*' By tlieir holy, high achieving,

By tlieir visions more divine,
By each gift of our receiving,

From these mighty ones of Thine;
By the Spirit's word unspoken,

By Thy Truth as yet half-won,
By each idol still unhrokeu,

By Thy will yet jDoorly done.
Hear us, hear us,
Mighty Leader, lead us on I ''

/^ GOD, Who hast made all those that are born again in
Christ to he a royal and priestly race, grant us both the
will and the power to do what Thou commandest ; that Thy
people who are called to eternal life may have the strength of
faith in their hearts, and the courage of piety in their actions ;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


imxtlx ixi&^.


In the primary signification of the word " sacrifice "
there is involved an idea of a conflict between oppo-
site claims, or afi'ections ; a conflict that carries with
it suffering, and, when it results in the performance
of the sacrificial act, costly to the doer, in his inter-
ests, his tastes, or his person. Where this meaning
holds, the amount of reluctance in the sacrifice, in
any line of religious conduct, will bear an inverse re-
lation to the spiritual elevation and purity of the
person pursuing it. What it costs one of us the pain of
a hard struggle to surrender, another, whose mind
moves in a more habitual and complete harmony
-with the mind of Christ, gives up with little feeling
of loss and scarcely a consciousness of effort. When
the stronger and larger part of our life and love is
already on Christ's side, so that the first choice is
for Him, then whatever He asks, either in the ser-


vice of His Church, or in personal obedience, will be
loosened and let go so cheerfully that there will
hardly be enough of selfish reluctance left to calculate
the cost. It is in this deeper and finer sense that
sacrifice may be said to be the vital principle of the
Grospel of Christ. Where this is not Christ cannot
be, in any heart, in society, in the Church. It is of
this willing pain and loss that the crucifixion is the
supreme instance, the cross the sign, Friday the
weekly memorial, and the redemption of the world,
the fruit. Till we see the meaning of that deep mys-
tical saying of the Saviour, ^^He that loseth his life '
for my sake and the GospePs shall save it," we have
apprehended neither the true glory and blessedness of
our life nor the heart of the Gospel. It humili-
ates us to consider that we fret and complain at hard-
ships which maturer Christians, whose discipline has
been deep, whose vision is made clear, and whose un-
ceasing alms and holy prayers have so come up for
a memorial before God as to lift their own inward
frame up into heavenly places in Christ Jesus, would
instantly pronounce no sacrifices at all, but rather
the refreshments of their journey. The Church
ought not even for a moment to forget that just in
whatever proportion her life rises into its true and


honorable " peace in believing/' in the same propor-
tion she will forget to count up her offerings, and will
reckon those things which a half-secular Christianity
would either worry about or boast of as losses for
Christ, to be so much gain in Christ.

There are traces of this gradation in the shades of
meaning given to this word in Holy Scripture.
Through the several kinds of sacrifice enjoined in the
Mosaic ritual and regimen, each one being suited to
some particular feature of the soul's relation to God
and His law, or some special spiritual necessity in
the discipline of character, there is a pervading pres-
ence of this great principle, — that something of vakie
should be taken out of that which a man calls and
considers his own and be put completely away from
him, for Jehovah's sake. The instinct of property
must be crossed and crucified. Human ownership,
and that absolute and entire dependence of man the
creature on God the Creator which is only intensified
by sin, leaving man literally nothing that is strictly
his own, are utterly distinct conceptions. Practically
they are contradictory and antagonistic. Ownership,
therefore, both in the Jewish Church and the Chris-
tian Church, must be abandoned or transmuted into
stewardship. Man holds temporarily what he gathers


from the earth/ or earns by his faculties, m trust for
his Lord, whose the earih is^ whose plan it is to make
the earth itself a mere building-place for His divine
kingdom, and who comes to reckon. To keep this
fundamental idea alive in the mind, and in fact to
turn it from an idea of the mind into a living faith
of the soul, is one of the objects of the system of sac-
rifices. While men are allowed to handle and man-
age, to a certain limit, what they are also permitted,
in a kind of figure, to call their property, as a part
of the discipline of their moral liberty, — to try and
prove them what manner of men they are, — they are
also continually to be opening their hands and part-
ing with this substance, putting it clean away from
them, cost what it will, laying it on altars, burning it
in the fire, beating it small, scattering it as incense
on the air, making it the maintenance of the Lord's
Priesthood, sending it away into the wilderness. It
is striking, too, that this system is made so pliant
and accommodating as to the amount of the trust held,
even in the rubrical exactness of it, that he that hath
much shall give plenteously and he that hath little
gladly give of that little, — the small store of the peas-
ant, like the Virgin Mother of Him who, though He
was rich, became poor for our sakes, being neither


wholly excused nor yet burdened, but yielding its two
turtle-doves or young pigeons. Beyond the tithe of
all income for holy uses there must bo these con-
stantly recurring acts of costly surrender of earth to
Heaven, self-will to God's will, appetite to a neigh-
bor's comfort, property to infinite love. There is
both the reality of a particular sacrifice and the
symbolism of a universal submission, where every-
thing is confessed to belong to the Lord. Thus the
idea of merit is radically and logically excluded.
The Evangelists are folded up in Leviticus. Sup-
pose Jew or Christian gave everything he has and is
to his Maker, in hands unstained and with sinless
heart, still he would have done only what it was his
duty to do, and be a servant without profit. And
when the deep-struck, all-contaminating sin, in man's
blood and his will, has added robbery to unprofitable-
ness, there must be not only sacrifices of expiation
for this uncleanness and transgression, but under-
neath all their inadequate atonement must lie the
solemn covenant-prophecy, the anticipated propitia-
tion of the Lamb of God, ^^ not without " more
precious ^^ blood," sufficient, final, everlasting in re-
demptive power, rendering even the offerings of
Christian worship dependent on the offering of the


cross, as the altar of incense v>^as united with the
altar of sacrifice. ^' The fire shall ever be burning
upon the altar j it shall never go out."

What a melancholy commentary it is on the
wretched conceits of a mere spontaneous, impulsive
religious condition, that wherever these two things
are forced apart, — where almsgiving is divorced from
•the faith of the cross, charity is attempted without the
atonement, the Lord's poor cease to bo supplied from
the Lord's altar, the offertory is lost out of its Script-
urally appointed place beside the sacrifices of prayer
and praise, and the people refuse to lay by on the first
day of the week as the Lord hath prospered them;
there, sooner or later, the effect appears in the alien
ation of the poorer class from the sanctuary ; in the
destruction of the sense of sacred responsibility for
wealth on the part of the rich ; in the substitution of
spasmodic appeals for ^'causes" instead of steady
persuasions for the one great blessed Cause, the
Church which embraces all other causes, and for
Christ's dear sake ; in eloquent exaggerations and
public subscriptions so devised as to drive men into
seeming to give God handsome sums which are
actually paid to " buy themselves off from a reputa-
tion for meanness " with their neighbors; in the secu-


larizing of charity and the paganizing of philanthropy;
in the vulgarities of fairs and exhibitions and their
attendant moral humiliations, — the very purpose of
which is to hide out of sight and to kill out of the
soul that central reality of sacrifice which is the giving
up to the Lord of that which costs the selfish heart

Intermixed, however, with these searching and inr
spired doctrines and ordinances of religious sacrifice
we find in the Bible, as if intentionally put there to
sustain the view already advanced, viz., that they
who begin in the divinely-appointed path and keep
on in it will presently find their costly off'erings be-
coming joyous rather than grievous, — such expres-
sions as the '^ sacrifices of thanksgiving," the " sac-
rifices of praise," and ^* sacrifices of joy." If there is
any paradox it clearly belongs to that grand paradox
which runs all through the Gospel and its transform-
ing work ; the ^^ service that is perfect freedom " ;
^' as poor yet making many rich " ; ^^ having nothing
yet possessing all things." That is, if the Church would
fill out her rightful office, restore the waste places,
and extend the kingdom of Christ in the world, she
must restore first the divine plan of faith working by
love which God gave her ; she must re-affirm the


doctrine of stated, systematic and adequate sacrifices
for that holy end f she must not cheat her children
with any delusive dream of putting the cloke of
Christ's righteousness on themselves or others so long
as the thick under-garment of their own selfishness
and avarice clings close to them and is not rent apart
and torn off; she iliust teach and train every child
she baptizes to keep his eyes, his hands, his feet, and
all his powers ever ready and intent to seek out and
to occupy the occasions of self-denial for her honor
and the glory of her crucified Head ; and then it
will come about, as the promises of God are true,
under the wonder-working law of the spirit of life in
Christ Jesus, that a love for this kind of service will
grow up, and a sacred passion for the Church's honor
will be kindled, such as will cast out the bondage of
constraint, enthroning the gracious and royal law
which is '^ ready to give and glad to distribute,"
making of each disciple the ^^ cheerful giver " whom
the Lord loves.

And remember that this spirit, not held off for a
distant sentimental admiration but brought in and
embodied in our lives, is a very homely, practical,
every-day thing. It has place in any room of the
house, from morning till night. It is in the little and


continual givings up of what is pleasant, in such quiet
skilful ways of holy ingenuity, loving contrivance,
and blessed thoughtfulness, that they for whom
the sacrifice is so secretly borne shall never know
what was suffered for them, — in which veil of re-
serve the beauty of the act so often lies, the benefi-
ciary seeing nothing but the bright and spontaneous
cheerfulness of the favor, and not even knowing per-
haps what it cost or whence it came ; — and then the
act is no longer small, but rises into the greatness of
the honor of the cup of cold water given in the name
of a disciple under the benediction of Christ. There
is no comfort, no delight, no social indulgence or
play, no domestic advantage or luxury, no first place
of rest, or enjoyment, or eminence, but it may be
turned and transfigured by the youngest person into
one of these nobler offerings to the Lord Jesus, and
so beautified with the sign of the cross.

'' Lord, one deep trouble of my soul,
From which I pray to be set free,
Is that I canuot self control

And give up all the world for Thee.

" My weak, corrupt, deceptive heart,
Whenever early lusts I flee,
Like Ananias, yields apart,

But "will not give up all for Thee.


" Sapphira like, false thoughts arise
When, penitent, I bend tlie knee
To hold the world before mine eyes
And say I gave it all for Thee.

" Lord, make me victor in the strife !

Thou who hast given so much for me
Teach me this parable of life,
That I have naught to give for Thee! "

/^ LORD Jesus Christ, give us grace to receive from Thy
^-"^ hand whatever paius and sorrows we endure in the flesh
or in the spirit as so many portions of Thine own cross given
unto us by Thee for the purifying of our souls, bearing every
loss and trial with Thy patience, and rejoicing to suffer with
Thee, for Thy sake who didst suffer and die for us, who yet




Is not sometliing like this true ? You entered on
a Christian life in the Church with an honest heart.
It was your duty, and you did it. Probably there
was some struggle at the very outset. You took up
a cross. But you hoped that after that, as you
should go on, the cross would grow lighter, the way
would open, your feet would get used to the road,
and your shoulders be fitted to the burden. In this
expectation you have been partly disappointed. The
hard work, the hard places, the hard sacrifices, are
in your path still, and you meet them every day.
You are half disposed to complain. ITour faith is
disturbed. You ask whether the Church is what it
professed to be, whether the religious life with God
is what you took it for, whether your Lord who
called you to come after Him is as good as His
promise. You '^ think it strange concerning the


fiery trial " which tries you, for we are always apt to
think our own trials are "fiery/'' "as though some
strange thing happened unto you."

Some one says^ I am not satisfied with my religious
progress. My Christian character is not what I want
it to be, or what I expected it to be This con-
science in me tells me I ought to be constantly gain-
ing in goodness, overcoming my faults, becoming
more and more like Christ my example, less
worldly, less selfish, less petulant, more interested in
my daily devotions, more constant and devout in
enjoying my sacramental privileges, more thoughtful
for others, more pure in heart. You told me if I
came into the Church I should be able to go on from
grace to grace ; that Baptismal grace given me with
the water at the font would make me clean ; that
Confirmation grace would make me strong to do my
work ; that Eucharistic grace at the Lord's Table
would make me watchful, steadfast and peaceful.
Time runs on and I do not find these fruits of the
Spirit either ripening or multiplying in me. What
is the matter ?

Christ has taught His Church what to answer to
this, and has written it in His Gospel. To be
alarmed will probably do you no hurt j to be dis-


couraged would be a fatal and faithless mistake.
There is not one word of discouragement in the
whole Gospel, from the beginning to the end. Your
Father wants to save your soul, not to cast it out, and
He will save you if you will let Him. Your willing-
ness to let Him, — the name for that is faith. There
are two or three short answers to this trial of despon-
dency. Perhaps you are right as to the fact. You
may have fallen back. You may have stood still.
You may have gained in some virtues, and lost in
others. One thing is certain, where you have really
failed the fault is yours, not in Him who so loved
you as to die for you. Keep on searching yourself
till you find out what you have left undone. Did
you suppose the baptismal water would not only wash
your old sin away but that it would be an insurance
against it in all time to come, an amulet to drive off
bad spirits, even though you opened the door to
them, a charm to protect you, though you went where
you knew it was wrong for you to go ? Did
you imagine God's gift at Confirmation would
disarm all your adversaries as well as put strength
into your hands? Can you think that the conse-
crated food at the Supper of the Lord, while it nour-
ishes your own secret life, will kill all temptations,


within and without^ though there is no regular and
resohite action of your will to beat them down ? No
matter how rich the spiritual gift from Christ may
be, unless you stir it up and use it in well-doing it
perishes, as the grass and grain in all the fields will
spoil if you pack them away green out of the air and
light. God never bestows a talent to be roiled up
and hid. You accuse yourself of indifference at your
prayers, or apathy at church. Do you take pains
about them, prepare for them, think over beforehand
what special things you need to ask for yourself
or for those you love, or what mercies you have re-
ceived to be thankful for ? You had a bitter resent-
ment against an acquaintance, a grudge burning in
your breast, and you hoped your religion would cool
it away. Did you give your religion a chance by
banishing self-justifying thoughts, by burying the
wrong and never bringing it to life, by forgiving
even seven times 1 Take care not to blame the
religion of Christ for shortcomings or backslidings
which that religion warned you against when you

It may be, however, that you are mistaken. We
are not always the best judges or fair critics of our.
own spiritual frame. There is an illusion of the


eyes on a railway train or in a boat on the river
where we fancy we are sitting still and everything
about us is in motion, when really it is the other ob-
jects that are still and we are moving. There are
morbid moods of the soul, as there are disordered
states of the body, and sometimes the last create the
first. At any rate, if you see your own defect and
deplore it, that of itself is the very sign of kindling
life, and you have a right to draw not self-satisfac-
tion but hope from it. Penitence is the first move-
ment to mercy, and confession to God is the first
step upward. Were you satisfied with self that
would be death ; pain is the evidence of vitality, the
outcry and alarm-bell of the sinning conscience.
Take heart from it. The holiest saints on earth and
in Paradise have had a poor sense of their own ad-
vancement. In the awful depth of agony at His
passion our blessed human Lord cried out with some-
thing very like discouragement. The true way
to get comfort is to look away from yourself to
Him. Our power, our light, oui' satisfaction, our
better life itself, are in Him, and to Him we must go,
and go again and again for them, not to ourselves.
God grant us just discontent enough with what we are
to stir and nerve us for harder and nobler labor, not so


much as to depress our energies or darken our day-
light ! The best reply you can make to your re-
proachful memory, charging you with meagre attain-
ments and slow progress, is that you will stop meas-
uring yourself by yourself, drop the bad habit of
prying about in the interior of your own weak heart
for satisfaction which can come only from a higher
source. Look unto the hills of God, whence comes
your help, and forgetting the things which are behind
reach on to better things before.

" What is it makes my feet so tired and sore ?
Is it from running swift to do His will,
Or from a long, hard chase for glittering drops,
That I my cherished treasure-cup may fill ?

** Hands weary ! Is it from the tears they've wiped,
Or pointing many to the living way ?
Or are they weary gathering flowers that fade,
Or grasping joys and hopes which will not stay ?

" Whence doth this grief and disappointment come ?
Is it that men will put my Lord to shame,
Or has proud self been overthrown and balked
In some dear plan for ease, or love, or fame ?

" O, self has been my end, my aim, my god !
No wonder that I cry for rest and peace !
But dare I hope the heavenly rest; to gain
When wearied out in such a cause as this ?


** O let me turn and learn to prize my life
Because for Jesua I may sjjend it all ;
And count the longest, hardest life but short,
And all my grief and sorrow light and small !

'■'■ Then, -when I've labored through the heat and cold,
And brought my sheaves in patience to His feet.
Then may I lay my head upon His breast,
And know the laborer's rest so full and sweet.''

T)E near, O Lord, to us who call upon Thee ; and forasmuch
"^ as Thou dost chasten us with disappointment and heal us
by smiting, and make us strong by removing our confidence
from ourselves and placing it only in Thee, grant that we may
accept this Thy Fatherly correction, and be turned by it into
the path of a thankful obedience to Thy commandments, and
trust in Thy forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Whatever the reason for setting the account of
our Lord's kindness to the bodily want of five thou-
sand people as the Gospel for the middle of Lent,

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonForty days with the Master → online text (page 8 of 16)