James Houston Eccleston.

The James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; online

. (page 2 of 10)
Online LibraryJames Houston EcclestonThe James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; → online text (page 2 of 10)
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human imagination can picture; keep His
strength commensurate with the ever growing
measureless miles of space and myriads of worlds;
but remember, His own prophet made Him as
gentle as the touch which does not break the
reed, and let nobody dare to hint that He will
ever quench the smoking flax.


I was in error, and God is true: I was negli-
gent — and God is patient: I was defiant, and
God is merciful. My sins helped the burden
of this world which fell on the Christ who
loved me and gave Himself for me.

The saints of God have found Him true:
true in the moments of exacting toil, true in
the moments of private prayer, true in the
moment of public worship, true in disappoint-
ment, true in gain, true in suffering, true in
health, true when nearest Christ.




He loves your children, and makes you chasten
them. He loves you and He makes your chil-
dren chasten you; and what wonderful discipli-
narians they are to be sure; how admirably well
they keep it up, and when they can't do any
better they all get sick together. Or else the
Lord provides somebody near to you. He keeps
about you a number of reasonable people, and
He lets in some wtireasonable ones, and they
bring us to the strictest of rules, and exact all
kinds of things of us. And then God knows
about the other part of the "chastening": how
often and how bravely you work when the body
is ill and the spirit is weary. He knows when
we whine as little children over nothing, but He
knows, too, when the trial is real, and sees to
it that "we are not tempted above that we are
able.'' Have I made clear what this chasten-
ing is.? The life drill with all its forces, the
expelling the bad, bringing in and using the
good, the great School House, one Head Master,
many assistants, some Httle bits of children
doing the work others could not do, their very
helplessness calling out the best love of man or



woman; and the whole that wonderful thing
"the chastening of the Lord."


Many a time good men and women have
neglected work which they ought to have done,
because they have not recognized such a call
from God as would bring the promise of His
help to do the work in hand.

I have known good men to fail work which
the Providence of God laid in their hands as
plainly as if an angel had laid it there: but they
were so afraid of being conspicuous, so afraid
of becoming the object of ridicule, that they
hid themselves, like Saul, and let God's work go
undone. The Tempter makes us beheve it is
modesty: the whole of it is self-consciousness.

The real Jonah was one who knew and feared
to warn and preach God's love, and live it. They
sink God's ship who fail God's privilege, though
trusted with His truth.


"We cannot be bothered with all that is going
on about us: so many are imposters and unde-



serving: there are homes for the dependent
poor, and professional workers among them.
Why should we trouble about this hopeless
problem? Life was put here for us to enjoy.
I got my money honestly: I pay my debts
honestly; I spend only what belongs to myself.
Really, I am too refined to be bothered with the
thousands, who are around about us, in their
struggle for life. Good painting is my delight.
I encourage art wherever I can — pictures,
sculpture, music — but you must not expect me
to take an interest in the Lazarus who may
be at my gate. I pay others to do that.'* Now
let us stop right there and look. Pay other
people, hand the money to this and the money to
that, let people learn how to "weep with those
who weep," and have their hearts throb in
sympathy with a human need; to learn what is
meant by human want; to give to another man
money, that he may take it and learn that mys-
tery of all Art, how to put out a hand whose
mysterious cunning shall take hold on, and help
to Hft and to carry a heart-weight of sorrow!
To have someone else take the money I give him,
and learn therewith how to approach the
mystery of life on its side of suffering, and wake



within him that something which we are told
makes us to differ from all that is around and
about us, differ from all animals, birds of the
air or beasts of the field, yes, and makes us to
differ from other men and other women, and
teaches us that mysterious lesson which else we
can never learn, the love of our fellow-man!
Not that he is a companion of a table, nor the
sharer of our taste, nor the co-laborer in some
enterprise; nay, nor even kindred in tie, or
close in blood, but the love of a human being
simply and only because he is a man! The loss
of this lesson makes us simply not human, and
therefore ungodly.


Men seem to think the Church has somehow
gathered up stories about Christ, and thrown a
veil of reverent mystery over all. 'Far from it —
yours, my friend, is the haze. Those people
were clear — one thing they knew, they saw the

Our obscurities of God are the mists of our
own doubts, or the chill of our own unbelief, or
else they are the scorching heat of our own
indulged lusts and hates. And our own imper-





feet growth is when we bury our roots in our
own speculations as to what may be the truth,
instead of in the Hfe of love of Jesus of Nazareth.
Let us be honest. Don't you yourselves find
that belief is less distinct and clear the less we
prize our prayers, and worship all the less con-
genial as we grow dull in faith and cold in doubt.?


Doubt and unbelief may creep into our Chris-
tian atmosphere, bringing a chill Hke the cold
vapor of the frozen marshes of earth's lower
lands. They may weaken the notes of the songs
of praise, they may hinder the sweep of the
poems of hope, and chill the coloring which the
Lord Himself has left on the pages of His prom-
ise. But the one who needs His call, who comes
to Him in honest heart-worship, who takes
from Him the teaching of the one God, and the
law of hoHness for thought and impulse as well
as word and act, who repents of sin without
losing hope of life, and longs for the power of
the Resurrection in his own soul, will live as
Moses lived, and die as Moses died, face to face
with God.




"This is my own affair; it is my own convic-
tion, and I may do with it as seems good to
me." Yes ; that is true if it is your own. But
what we are insisting upon is that it is not your
own, it is God's. You have not the right to do
as you will with God's truth.

Preserve truth as a holy thing, not your own
but God's own, lent to us to live by and live in.

Every great thinker in the world's history, if
he has truth at all, has God's truth.


Wherever in this life of love and service you
and I find the self rebuked, denied and con-
quered, there is the Kingdom of God.

Self denied in the service of right and the love
of God — that is Calvary.

You have done no harm, but what good have
you done? To Hve, to love, to serve, this is the
realm Christ went to receive.

The world is self-served, and the Christ is




God can wait: He has an endless time, but
you and I cannot.

Once our Lord whispered to a man, "That
thou doest do quickly." He did it, and went
out into the night, and it was dark, and the
light never came. He made his decision, but
it was too late.


St. Paul was a very learned student, he was
even an inspired man, but the great ultimate
thing to which he appealed, the one on which
he depended to silence objectors, was the evi-
dence that he was in earnest.

St. Paul did not brag that he had overcome
somebody; he bragged that Christ had over-
come him.

There are some great lives to which God in
His goodness gives one great purpose, and gives
the strength and courage to adhere to it until
it is won and done.




We don't want a dream, we don't want a
poem, however beautiful it may be, we want to
know. What saith the Lord!

Every time we quote the opinion of another
we betray our own craving for the support of
something outside ourselves. In our day with
all its boasted independence there is nothing in
the world this minute so craved as some final
authority on which to lean for religious truth.
And only one all-suificient, absolute and in-
fallible answer has ever been given, and that is
found by the loyal heart which is content to find
it in Jesus Christ our Lord.


"Is it not better to be honest in secret than
insincere in worship which is only outward, and
have your life rebuked by that worship?" Cer-
tainly it is. May I ask, is it not better to be
honest than a liar.? Is it not better to be open
with vice than secret with guilt? Is it not
better for some man to attack a community
with a shot-gun than with poison in the water-
supply? But is it necessary to have a man



attack a community with either, and do you
hesitate to hang both if you can find them?
Why men should debate degrees of wrong when
debating obHgations of duty, I have never been
able to find out.


He says the Kingdom of God is within us.
Not may be, not can be, not will possibly be
one of these days, but it is there — there by
His hand. He sketched it. He laid His own life
and love at its roots, He planted it from the
fruit of the garden of God, the fruit of the tree
of all trees. That fruit seed is Love, and the
tree itself Life — His own to give, His own to
guard. His own to keep.

To my shame I may doubt in the very mo-
ment when the Spirit of faith is hovering over
me to strengthen me, and I may tremble in an
hour when Christ's hand is holding me, but this
is my human frailty. The Christ once within
is by decree of Heaven my "hope of glory."




fo be of any use a warning or judgment must
be delivered by one in whose lips and life the
words may justly have a place.

No one dares assume Jonah's role unless God
send him, and God sends men only in LOVE.


The question is not what can prayer do in
our speculation, nor how near you and I may be
able to come to the exact place and office of
human prayer in the divine economy of nature and
grace; the question for you and me to consider
is, how, in the economy of God, the richer
growth of God's awful truth in our Hfe and
character can ever possibly come without the
shelter and help of earnest Christian prayer.


The Bible is almost the Ark of your church,
and it is God's own blessing in every home where
it is reverenced, and flings its shadow of mercy
even in the homes which neglect it.

Our Bible, in its Old Testament and New,



describes men exactly as they were, from the
murder of Cain and the drunkenness of Noah, to
the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter.
If anyone can read the whole Bible and believe
that its God approves evil in anybody, then it
is useless to debate. The best we know of God
we have gotten from this Book; the best and
worst we know of men we get from this Book.
To stop the worst and make the best is the
object of the revelation, and record thereof, in
the books of the Bible.




When He who made the New Testament
wanted to find a text which would group at
one view, for ages and ages, the best that even
divine wisdom could give to guard and guide
the relations of men to one another. He found
His text in this Old Testam^ent book, "Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" — the gift
of the God of the Old Testament. However,
you and I may or may not find the God of
love in the Old Testament, the Lord Christ
finds there the God of the rule of love, manward
and Godward both.


God's altar may be of marble in some fair
house of worship, and may be the coal box of
a shivering woman, or the hand of a hungry


Do you ever gain the secret place of any
friend except you live with him? Do you ever
come to know his very secret life unless you
and he dwell together? You may be far apart,



but the written message, the sometimes inter-
rupted and then resumed letters, the highly
prized interviews, and the still more precious
interchange of thought and taste and purpose, —
what we rightly call the secret places of one's
heart-life, — you get this only as you dwell with
one another. It enriches Hfe, if it adds intensity
to the bitterness of death. It enriches friend-
ship, if it embitters cruel distrust and break:
and only as we dwell together do the secret
heart-hopes, dreams and wishes come to be the
common property of one another, Oh! how
true this all is in our heart-life with God!


I have never been much impressed with the
logic of some well-to-do people who gave a skimp
part of Sunday to church, and the rest to self;
but I have been silenced at times by the simple
arguments of working people, and had nothing
to say in reply.


I am afraid we speak of faith sometimes as
though it were of our own making; or, even



though we believe it to be a gift of God, yet we
think of it, and speak of it, as though it were
some sort of thing, some costly work, as of metal
and jewel, a thing of art and beauty, which we
may bring to the Temple of God and lay before
Him, which He will take as an offset for sin, a
work of merit, a something or other which will
make even our unevenness with our God, and
offset our injuries to our fellow-men, when we
have to own we have been guilty of them.

Everybody knows that faith is as indispensable
among men in ordinary life as it is in the re-
ligion of God and Christ. But you cannot
handle it, you cannot see or measure it. Men
have tried to analyze it, but it is an ultimate
particle, an original substance. The apostle
names it best when he calls it the gift of God.
It is indispensable; and most perfect where
people cease to talk about it, and simply take
it for granted. The sweetest homes, the dearest
friendships, are those where the actors never
dream of debating their faith in one another.


A strong temper absolutely under control is
what most of us mean by a good temper.



The man who can be angry and sin not is
apt to be the man whose whole Hfe speaks the
truth of God, and he is always one who carries
the message of Christ to all about him.


The truth is, there is something about a human
being that has never been put in words; you
may read about it in a book, but if you are
going to get it from a character in a novel, it
is the reader's imagination which will put it
there in part. The great actor can find in the
drama what the dramatist wanted to say, and
could not, and he will supply it. This makes
the difference in your speakers. One man says
a better thing than another, but the less valuable
speech is more valuable on account of the man
who said it. For want of a better expression,
we have all agreed to call this "personal power."


We believe in the Holy CathoHc Church —
CathoHc, not because of this form of worship
and rule, or that; CathoHc, not because it
includes the whole world, it never has; but



Catholic because it does hold the whole truth
of Christ. And Holy, not because its members
are faultless, the}^ never have been, they never
will be; but because the Spirit of all right rule
holds its members in willing obedience to the
great Head of the Church; holds them within
a realm which reaches from earth to heaven;
holds them within a hfe which never ends, and
in the light of the love of God,


Men frequently say, "The world owes me a
living," and forget the easy answer, "And you
owe the world a service."

Is there anything less in your life because
there is something more in the treasury of

There is that which scatters and yet increases;
and there is a withholding more than is meet,
and it tends to poverty.


There are many warnings in the Scripture of
our Lord against human nature, but not many
complaints. But there is one great one. The



Lord healed ten lepers at once: one returned to
give thanks, and the Master asks, Where are
the nine? If we remembered oftener to be
grateful, there would be more use of, and less
debate about, prayer.


Salvation is not the lifting, as if by a derrick,
some poor creature from a pit of flame: nor is
it to make a hiding place for fugitives from
justice. Salvation is the putting the man back
into the likeness of his God, cutting the man
clear from his former record: to make him know
that he is forgiven, and that the power of evil
over him is broken. This the Christ brings to
him. But the salvation is not perfected until
he comes, receives his forgiveness, is reconciled
to His Father, takes once more the shelter of
the home, and then, greatest of all, the life of
God^s child!

Many a one has realized the truth and the
fact of salvation who never knew what name to
give it all, but knew only that they craved
forgiveness, and asked in the very depths of
their soul the privilege of the service of God.




The dwelling place of God is in the midst of
people who desire nothing so much as His right.

We find most hope in that heart and life, not
where there are keen debates as to definition
or sentence, not where there are criticisms of
neighbors, not where there is cleverness in
theological argument, not where there is a
petted fancy and constant dispute to defend and
preserve my idea of right: but where there is an
honest desire, for the Spirit of the Blessed Christ
within me to give me such holy trust in God my
King, that I honestly long to find, not my right
or yours, but RIGHT, at every cost, as it is in
the Kingdom of God: and when and where I
bow before my Father and pray for the Spirit
of the Christ, to make me more and more
Christ-like, that I may be the child of God.


"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are
heavy laden. My yoke is easy." The call is
universal; it is to all, no matter who; but the
invitation is to take a burden, not to be free
from one. Is it not in place to keep Christian



people warned that we are losing the thought
of the yoke? An easy service, a universal
promise of indiscriminate forgiving, a universal
righting up of unevennesses, a taking down the
hod from this man's shoulders, and the pen
from this man's hand; the needle from this
woman's fingers, and the child-care from the
hand of another — a general annihilation of all
toil, a universal good time, something new,
something bright, something idle! Shall we go
on? Something drunken, something worthless,
something hke a huge He, impossible, and an
insult to a human or divine mind. All this we
want! Is this the Christ's message? Listen.
"Take my yoke." It is useful; it links you with
the awful power of God, and that to warn;
and it links you with the infinite love of God,
and that to help.


There can be no doubt to any fair reading
of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ
of God, of the hopeless, eternal and fixed separa-
tion between a certain kind of evil (and a cer-
tain kind of life devoted thereto) as distinguished
from good, and the service of God.



"Who shall be cast into hell fire, where their
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
The words fairly hiss in their intensity; and some
helpless human beings struggle with the words,
some taking refuge in the foolish denial that
they were ever said, and all of us at times for-
getting the wise and holy words, ''Whoso liveth
and believeth in ME shall never die."

Always try to leave such teaching in Jesus'
lips, for He alone is fit to teach it.


If there is anything true in the day in which
we are living it is that consciously or uncon-
sciously men are living dependent upon the ever-
growing power of the life of Jesus Christ, the
Son of God.

I do not know anything more common than
the fault of some good people of taking and using
power from the exhaustless reservoir of Christ's
fife which they never acknowledge.


Infallibility had better be left to the few who
claim it: and let us each one of us give credit



to his neighbor for an honest wish to do the best
he can.


"Who on earth is sufficient for these things?"
Nobody by himself, and almost anybody if God
be with him, and the man believe it!

Stand in God's name and Christ's strength,


The Lord didn't ask the woman to tell Him
what kind of rock it was, or its age and place
in geologic records; nor did He even stop to
ask how deep the well was. He asked her for
water. Now our anxiety to know how old some
books of the Bible are, who wrote them, and
when and where, is all quite legitimate study, —
all imperative study where possible. But, my
dear friends, our Bible was never given us by
the great loving God as a bundle of exciting
conundrums. Never at any time has it not been
true that somehow God helped His people to
dip from this deep well the cup of grace which
they needed for the hour in which they lived.

Said a young mother beside me, "Don't



argue with me — give me some word of hope and
help." I should have insulted her grief if I had
stopped to argue the authorship of John's
Gospel. I could say, "My child, you know your
love for your son. Then listen. *God so loved
the world as to give His Son' — so loved your
child as to give His Own." I never dare measure
the sorrow of a parent for a child in suffering,
death or distress, but that text of John is as
truly water dipped from the fountain of God as
ever the cool water which Christ craved from
the woman of Samaria.

Stop wasting time on the endless debate of
the ages and character of these books, and seek
in them what God has sent us, what word,
what message. He has for us, and you will find
the difference between trying to dig a well, and
drinking from one already dug.

She says the well is deep, and H,e has nothing
to draw with. Yes, the well is deep — deep as
the ages of God's life among men, deep as the
fathomless love of God for His children, and it
is all gathered in this tired Man seated by the
well: He is the "Word of God." It is to bring
Him and keep Him ever with us that these
books were written, and are kept.




There is nothing of which a tiny person is so
much afraid as being caught in some inconsis-
tency. Men bent on great ends cannot always
stop to square up every edge. It is true, a fool
is careless of the same. But it is ignorance in
the fool; it is intensity of purpose in the greater


We have very little idea how many people
are habitual worshippers, how very many never
leave their homes without prayer to God. We
are not anxious to go out into the day and night
without doing it, and I sometimes wonder why
men and women who are so careful to pray, are
so much afraid of having it known.

If it is doubt, say it; but don't think it is
new, nor think it is peculiar — it is as old as the
brethren of the Lord. But if it is faith in the
Man, faith in the resistless embodiment of power,
Jesus Christ, who has brought God to man, and
man to God for eighteen centuries, then answer
honestly, what is He to you?




Almighty God holds, and always will hold,
the whole matter of worship in His own hands,
as His own of right, and not burs; and not, a
favor from us to Him, but a privilege from Him
to us.

Is it still in your mind that worship means
only averting the club of an angry giant?

No act of worship is ever quite God's worship
unless it is the free act of a child coming to its

Worship is to help, not measure people. Our
ideal measures us.

Your life may be negligent and indifferent.
But there will come something in it, and you
will seek your God. You may complain against
God, you may fault His justice more than sus-
pect His kindness, wonder absolutely where His
love is; but you will worship for all that. And

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Online LibraryJames Houston EcclestonThe James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; → online text (page 2 of 10)