James Houston Eccleston.

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

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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 3 of 10)
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you cannot do else.

The word "worship" reaches from the prayer
of a child at the nurse's knee, on out to the
most exacting search of a philosopher.




What I cannot understand is that men who
know that a land without homes is a land cursed,
and a land without government is a wilderness
waste, and with their open Bibles telling them
that the Power which built the home and built
the state, built also the Church of God, into
which under some name or in some place He is
gathering the people in every land, yet say
they can do as well outside the church as in it.

**If it is all a matter between the soul and the
Lord, as you say it is, it cannot be needed that
I should be a Church member. Why should I
trouble to join the church?'' I answer, if your
voice within is God-taught, and under it you
welcome the rightful Lord, then why not do as
the Lord commanded you.?


Not so much "if' but What.? or Who? can
drive men to recognize what is right, and do it?
That question met you when you walked out
of your room this morning. It met you as you
went through your house. It came to you in
church. It will go with you till you are dead.



And your answer to that question, as it affects
yourself and those about you, will have more to
do with the Hfe about you and the life to come
after you, than all the money you can possibly
make, or any skill you can have in any depart-
ment of life. Heaven itself was robbed, and
earth became the scene of the suffering of
Divine Love for one single purpose — to make
men seek and know and do what is right.


Just what a human being, endowed with
human faculties, may pass into when he passes
out of this Hfe into another, and what he may
become by following his own bent, and exercising
his own privileges of choice, it is not possible
for us to tell: only we must remember that we
will not be somebody else on the other side of
the river: it will be I myself, and what I am,
on that side as well as on this.


The danger which the church has always
dreaded most, and reasonably so, is the dread
of the doubt which has its origin in self-com-


placency, its nourishment in self-indulgence, and
its full growth in immoral practise. These make
up the great centre guard of the army of evil.

Despair of right grows side by side in the Hves
of evil doers, with the denunciation of evil.

No teacher known to earth emphasizes as
Jesus does the ruin and power of evil, and the
wreck of sin against our God.

God's miracle of all miracles: the conquering
of evil in a human soul.


The Master never hesitated to teach where
He could be sure of the listener. He refused
where he could not be. "Neither tell I you"
was one frightful rebuke, and His silence before
Pilate has become historic.


One truth of all truths deep and lasting is that
men worship as profoundly, I do not say any
more so, when they obey the hard resistless
command of duty as when they leap at the
impulse of delight.

It is a life already prejudiced, and sometimes



ruined, which has the thought that because a
thing is not pleasant it is therefore not duty.

Men always have and always will alternately
groan under burdens, and plead to be permitted
to carry them.

I have some acquaintances who are too enter-
prising to be free to labor. And the man
most Christian is the man freest to follow legiti-
mate labor. I am not sure that the man or
woman who from Christian principle, from
gratitude to God, is content to toil is not living
on the highest of Christian planes.


By the grace of God, the highest of all moral
acts is to put our trust under the shadow of the
Almighty throne.


It may be freely confessed that there is hardly
a sentence in the seventeenth chapter of St.
John which does not present any amount of
difficulties if people want to look for them, and
any amount of comfort if one is honestly willing
to receive it.

We keep our minds fixed on difficulties. Who
ever got anywhere doing that.?




One would think that the world was old
enough, and experience was wide and deep
enough to stop all of us from overrating the
power of grief. Take the mismanagement of
money — someone is entrusted with other people's
means. Time goes on; at first the trustee
is careless, then he is false, then he is over-
whelmed with grief. People have a great deal
of pity for him: but not every one stops to
think that the widow and children who were
to live on the money will have nothing to live
on, and that the tears of the offender would
not sell for ten cents a gallon in the market. Of
all selfish things in this life an offender's sorrow
may be the most selfish. Am I sorry for my-
self.^ That means death. Am I sorry for God
and my fellow man? That means desire and
effort, both, to set things right.


Is it possible that each one of us will toil and
struggle to do some one thing in our tiny lives,
only to find at the end that our mere work has



gone for nothing, and that some strong ruling
characteristic has done its* own recording, and
each will admit to himself that that is the real


Of only one person on this earth does the Bible
say he stands in God's place, and that person
is a father.

. . . that absolutely most potent force in all
of life, that priestess in God's own place, the
Christian mother.

The shortest line known on this earth from
God's will to a child's hfe is through a father's
or a mother's heart, and no other route ever
will or can be as short or as sure.


The distinction of right and wrong must be
made, is the absolute condition of Hfe, but its
appeal must be sustained at one and the same
time by an appeal to fear, and then to something
infinitely higher than fear.

One thing we must take with us for time and
for eternity, with the life here and the life

there, that there is no meaningless silly mingling



of right and wrong; there is the most absolute,
distinct statement, "judgment is committed
unto the Son." Those who love us warn us;
if God loves us why should He not say it?

After one awful prayer in Gethsemane He let
them lead Him through the mockery of a trial
and the misery of Calvary where He might be
the Saviour, because He is the Judge, of the
world. That suffering, death and mighty resur-
rection are the measure which Christ made of
the difference between right and wrong.


What these men learned was not that Christ
ministered to their vanity, but that He took
fast hold of them by one great thing. It was
that if they believed in Him, so He believed in
them; and if they could trust Him as their
Teacher, He could trust them with His truth.


St. Paul nowhere uses an illustration for life
itself. Its processes may be illustrated, its
influence may be felt, its power be shown, its
expression be seen in the fruit of a tree or the



life of a man. But the thing itself is a fact, or


The cross day by day may become heavy
and galling: and then it is flung down, and the
unfinished Hfe is broken and left.

You say "your sceptre is broken." Yes, and
a good thing that it is. It was only a sceptre of
reed, easily broken. Now win one worth having,
"Who endures to the end, to him I will give a
crown of life, and to sit on My throne." None
but Christ gives that sceptre. It is a gift from
heaven, and that sceptre will NOT break.


It does not make Moses any the less sincere,
but to most of us it will make him more in-
tensely human if we know that his awful full
realization of how near Almighty God is always
to His people first came to this man under the
consciousness of his own guilt.


The more absolutely sure some men become
in their own self-knowledge that they mean



right and wish right, that they have a great
general respect for God and reHgion, certainly
the more sure they are that their lives are con-
sistently obedient to the truth, then a good
many of such men are most confident that they
can neglect without harm the public worship of


I don't know that the Lord was consulted as
to when He would Hke to hang on the Cross for
your redemption, but if His crucifixion is really
on your heart, and you allow the goodness of
God to bring it out so that your faith may be
a witness to somebody else, then your hours will
be made to suit your work.


Of the family too much has never been said.

A kind home and diligent parents may at
any moment be well turned by the power of the
Spirit of God into an argument for the truth of
Jesus Christ, as the Revealer of the infinite
God, as the Father of us all; and of Heaven, as
the ideal home.




Three-fourths of the learning about the Bible
to-day is round about it. They can't tell you
what is in it.

Our collect and prayer does not ask God to
help us read about the Bible. We ask to be
helped to read IT.


There is an immense difference between the
dreamy romance which fills idle hours with
dreams of all sorts of possible and impossible
successes, and the quiet thought which is only
too thankful for a leisure quiet hour in which
to arrange its more careful work.

We forget that the good Christ cautioned us
that our thoughts make the very realm into
which He peers. And how few do think! We
muse, we build our castles of pride and desire,
and then we wonder that no heaven-sent lessons
drop in on our leisure moments.


Beautiful is His morality: but that would
only make Him a great man. And some who


adhere to His morality keep Him only a great
man. It is not by reason of His miracles: other
men have been wonder-workers. Only one
thing makes the hosts of His church on earth
worship Him. It is His power on earth to for-
give. Where that comes, men own Him God.

He is all that a sinning man longing to be
better can have: a penitent man longing to
change: an earnest man longing to be true:
a man often defeated in struggle against sin
anxious to triumph: He is all and more than
we can desire.


A morality which can be counted and
measured, a morality to be brought down to a
line of human choice, — that must forever be
a morality on the earth side, and so, short of
the level of the Kingdom of God. He who has
only that, who can tell you to a nicety how
often he is moral, and stops there, he is accord-
ing to Jesus Christ, not " in His Kingdom of

Christ gave no rule of morality, His whole
purpose was, not to lead men to trace a line or
count a number, but to train human character,



to make men Godly in wish, desire, aim, purpose,
eflPort and hope.

The morality of Jesus is not a thing, it is a
thought; it is not a weight, it is an inspiration:
not a line, however many miles up and away,
it is a hope, it is the power of God's love and Hfe
and Spirit.


How often we try to put our debt to God
into figures, and to name some limit beyond
which we need not go!

Whenever you can express a thing in figures
that is the whole of it! The figures may be
big, and they may be little. They may be
millions, but you have got the end. But you
can't express love in figures, and you can't put
God in figures; and These are Christian figures!

"Be ye therefore perfect." Instantly all rules
by figures are done for, avowedly, an infinite
standard is raised, and for that we are bidden
to strive.

We are not beaten. We would be if numbers
measured us, but they do not.

Which is most use to us in our life effort — the
Ten Commandments or the Christ.'' The one



is God's rule wise and just and good. The Other
is the presence and power of God's love, a living


The best rule for keeping Lent that I know
is to try to let Christ keep you. Let the Cruci-
fied One be your aid, let Him give grace, let His
service claim you, let His Spirit rule your wor-
ship, till selfishness will give place to freer
giving than ever before, till indulgence for His
sake is rebuked: and then all this Lent will be
what I know in my own heart, and so know
you in yours, God has given it for, a time to
store up strength for a truer fight with sin,
for better service to God and men, a Lent
which we have kept because it has been our
aim and prayer, reached and granted, that
Christ has kept us.

We fight, but ours are heavy odds.

For we are Christ's, and Christ is God's.


Long ago I gave up trying to read the in-
tricacies of Providence. Some people do seem
to have far more trial and trouble than others.



But many of these Job-like men and women are
the most devout, earnest and humble believers
and servants of Christ. Since the days of David
some of the most wicked have been the most
prosperous in the world's eyes. Since the days
of Job some of the most loyal have been the
most tried. But from the time of Job through
to the explicit words of Christ there is one
thing forbidden to men, and that is to turn judge
of oneself or others, and to try to connect the
Almighty's hand in some sad sorrow of a human
life with any particular offence in this or that
man's conduct.


A wonder greater than floating iron has been
wrought, and you and I will lift and carry
nothing without it. We will not lift ourselves
above the waters of despair, we will not Hft
ourselves above the waters of condemnation,
we will never be lifted above the floods of evil
and their power to gain forgiveness, unless the
wood that floats us, as a life preserved abso-
lutely secure, is that Cross on which was off'ered
the Sacrifice for the sin of the world.




"Nothing succeeds like success." But I am
disposed to go with those who answer, "No.
Failure sometimes succeeds as well as success,"
though one hardly need expect the easy-going
miUion to accept that as true. Some people
have thought that, until success becomes some-
thing close to a curse, and then the best thing
in the world may be a failure. Let us stop our
whole-hearted worship of success.

Why, is there on this earth any inspiration
and hope held out from other Hves like that
which comes from the darkest gloom of what
men called failure? John Baptist, pronounced
the greatest born of woman, died in prison, the
easy plaything of bloody men and a worse
woman. And out from the gloom of all glooms
comes the cry, "My God, why hast Thou for-
saken meV

Keep Lent a little more, and ask the One
who is most interested to guide it all, and the
best will come yet.




Possibly, after all, Christianity has not failed
yet; and whoever may attempt to follow it,
and whatever origin they may claim for it,
here is the simple fact: a GaHlean Peasant
nearly nineteen centuries ago quoted from the
old Books of His people, "Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart and mind and
soul and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself!"
And He put the quotation in the forefront of
His life and work, and while these laws had
slept for a thousand years before, from His
day till now these laws as a distinct command
have been pushed by some Power through the
history of mankind, until to-day in the forefront
of civilization, in its very centres, and as its
highest aim, the best men and women are claim-
ing this law as the most absolute protection,
hope and help of mankind. Men and women who
decline the church, who acknowledge Jesus as
only man, are seeking to be under His law, and
without knowing it are under His life. One
moment these men say such a law as a command
is impossible, and the next moment hold it out
as the world's shelter and hope.




Blessed is the truth of the power of this
promised Spirit to come in the days of difficulty,
distress and sorrow, to confirm faith, to quicken
dying hope, to strengthen more and more the
faihng resolve when sin and death seem to be
winning, and God seems not to hear. But it is
not for earthquake hours alone of human experi-
ence that the Spirit is promised. He is to
abide with us. He is the Spirit of counsel and
strength when the great heart-wrenches come,
but He is there to help as well when we are
under the lassitude come of every-day humdrum
life, when duties are not great but little and only
constant, when difficulties are not majestic with
importance, but exhausting with their insistency.
It is the morning by morning, day by day ex-
haustion, it is the mighty Httlenesses of the Httle
lives, like yours and mine, through which the
promise is to be fulfilled. It has always been
so and always will be; it is through the daily,
hourly, tiny living of tiny lives Hke ours that
the world is made better; evil is beaten down
and good is strengthened; that Christian civi-
lization has come to have its mighty meaning,



and that the church of God stands to-day
rather for the earnest effort of her many people
than for the gift of eloquence of Paul or Chrysos-
tom, of Francis or Luther, of Wesley or Moody.


The most dreadful skepticism, the part that
does the hurt, is not always the carefully drawn
argument of a learned skeptic, it is the easy,
laughing skepticism which doubts the plain
every-day truth that the humblest honest Chris-
tian draws his life from God.


We Stop doing good works, not because we
are shut up in prison, but because we are shut
up in self.

Go on the mount to learn your lesson. Go
down to the foot of it to serve suffering men.


Christ will do better by us. He will give us
power, power to know and power to do: to
know, not how God made the world, or how man
came or did not come, not even how He will



Straighten out all the unevenness in Hfe: but
knowledge of God, that He hates the evil and
loves the good, that He dreads the harm of sin
in human life and human hearts, and reaches
down from His very throne to help men in the
struggle. He does not stop to give us answers
to the conundrums of life, but gives clear knowl-
edge of the duties thereof, and promises power to
meet them.


It is the experience of most of us that the
nearer we get to what seems plainly stated truth
in the life of Our Lord, the nearer we come to
truth which on one side may be the helpful
example for a Httle child, and on the other may
exhaust the ability of the profoundest philos-
opher. The Lord's birth, the Lord's tempta-
tion, His suffering and death, all help or weary
us, accordingly as we take them for helps in
ordinary Hfe, or attempt to make them the sub-
jects of philosophic essays. Every little child
in twenty-four hours puts to the test the most
profound theories of philosophers, but he does
not write or read an essay thereon; and the
ordinary incidents in the life of Our Lord may



be the comfort of those of us who are simple-
hearted, or the tax and possible confusion of
those who would be learned and wise.


There is one last force, which rules the whole,
the mighty, hidden but tremendous force of
Christ with His own. The disciples simply
followed in loyal humblest love: their thronged
Leader would take the humblest beast, and that
a recognized emblem of peace and peaceful
effort. He moving and they following. And if
evil oppose, still on and on they go; evil will
still struggle till it crucifies and kills, yet ever
forward they go, Oh! nothing hindering! for
God leads, while the humble writer tells in
language priceless in simple truth, "We did it
all, but we never knew what we did!" Long
after, when Calvary was past, and Easter had
come, and OHvet had been ablaze in the light
of the Ascension, they all remembered an old
prophecy, and then thought how strange they
had done it all! I know not how it seems to
you, my friends, but to me this is one of God's
gold-pockets, as the miners call them, in His word,
telling us how these men in all their simple love



and kindly interest, and true loyalty and hu-
mility were swept on to do for the dear Lord
by holy impulse and holy guidance, pushed by
a force whose power they never dreamed of,
carried forward by an enthusiasm which no one
stopped to measure, and lo! afterwards they
found they had wrought a great epoch-making
incident in God's march for truth and right and
Hfe and love! You, my brother, in whose breast
God works the glory of Palm Sunday, go on
doing, when you know not, some great honor,
simply because you have obeyed Christ's impulse
to a holy, humble and unquestioning loyalty and


What a blessed fast Lent would be to many of
us if we could only remember where and when
we could make most for peace, and least for
pain, be least unkind and most Christian, stop
pointing the finger, stop the talk that hurts
and harms, say with the Prophet, "shut one's
mouth." If we follow the Prophet's Lent we
will not have been witty at the expense of
others, we will not have used our power unfairly,
we will not have done anything very great, except
we will have saved a friend, we will have broken



a bad habit, we will have found the Lord's
thought of charity.


I must say I envy the temperament always
even, and the faith always buoyant, but I must
pity the mind and conscience which finds no
warrant in God's use of forty days, in which
men shall come to know right from wrong: and
whose hearts sink not into silent awe as they
realize Jehovah's eternal scale for the drilling
of their own souls in truth and purity and love.


The great Teacher of the Temple of old lay
prone in the shadows of a land, so Holy even
then. The pascal moon poured her light around
while the ancient trees of the garden flung back
her beauty, and held the space in shadow, and
there, bowed ah! how low, pleads the MAN.
He is not now answering cavillers, He is not
now training His own — it is a low, solemn
moan which moves with its mystery through
the aisles of this great House of Prayer.




It is easy to get tired in body, and with that,
tired in spirit. Is it always Watch and Pray?
Yes, — always. The flesh is strong to endure and
has won the triumphs of the ages: and it is
weak and it has lost them. Men are earnest, and
men are diligent, but men give out. Watch and
pray that ye be not overtaxed.




No Christian man or woman has any supersti-
tious feeling about a Christian death. There
is nothing of a horror to be hurried away,
nothing to make us want to forget it. The
memory of the one gone is hallowed, pure and
blessed, for the spirit lives on, and is a part of
the great company of God, built into the life
of Christ. A deep heart-ache if you will, but
hope shining through, growing stronger as the
days go on, more real as the thought builds
itself into a reality of a spirit redeemed and
blessed in the presence of God.


He kept giving until in the end He gave Him-
self, mind, heart, time, effort, strength, soul and
body. The one privilege He asked was the
giving of self for the gathering of God's people.

We should have the Crucifixion of Christ
within our own homes, not as a thing to be
dreaded, but somehow a standard, and then an
impulse, a desire and a life, an effort sustained



through discouragement, a something impossible
of defeat.

The most Pilate and Caiaphas could do was
to kill the body of Jesus. Then the infinite love
of God came rushing over the earth, that power
at last greater than all, and that in which and
with which men face and overcome evil.

The Christ moved out over lines of life where
without death there could be no life after.

Surely if ever a shadow fell on men in hope
of great work it was when the sun went down
on the disciples of Jesus Christ on the first
Good Friday. Death was over all. "We
thought," some whispered, "that it was He who
would restore Israel" . . . only thought, now
only doubt. The throes of nature seemed well in
place in mourning for a lost power. Deep,
deep shadow over all — whence could come the

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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 3 of 10)