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 4 of 10)
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power which could arrest and roll it oflF and
away ^


Of all the glad worship of this Day, not one
song of praise will be too ecstatic, not a word
can be said too extravagant for the truth it
would carry, no sign of gladness in the decora-



tion with God's own colors of natural growth can
be out of place. And yet the Day is always
chiefest in place among those whose s mbre
robes tell their own sad story, and in whose lives
and hearts, whatever the outward decoration,
or want of it, memories pure and sweet of those
who have gone before hold absolute sway.

God forbid that we should go through our
forty days only to find human fault and our
own weakness: and not be led to this great Day
with its one enormous blessing of the glorious
light of Christian hope — the resurrection of
gladness, because the Resurrection of God.


It is something infinitely beyond a matter of
curiosity for the Christian to know that the
Resurrection-body of the Lord meant a state of
unhindered approach to the presence of the
Almighty Father.

The man who knows the power of Christ's
Resurrection is heaven-taught where John the
Baptist and Moses are ignorant.




Not only battle for the right is ours, but when
the Great City is taken it is to be the City of
Peace, and its songs are to be songs of Joy.
But if you and I sit down and wait, then joy
will never come. If we go to seek for it, we
shall never find it. We may have wealth, but
the combined fortunes which this American life
delights to recount will never buy it. It is
always before you, but you will never reach it
by approaching, and yet you have a right to
its presence, to journey with you as you go, to
sit by your side as you rest, to weave its way
through your dreams as you sleep, and to wake
you with its own hymn of praise, never louder
than on Easter morning. Men have known this
joy who had but the scanty remains of a day's
wages, and others have known it in the presence
of enormous wealth. Women have had it when
racked by pain, others in the exultation of
Amazon life. Many a time hymns of praise have
floated through the bars of prison houses, and
they have come from the fires which destroyed
the saints of God. But always it has been where
men welcomed from the tomb the Victim of



Calvary, and found in Him the assurance of
forgiveness, and the promise of never-faihng


The single expression "There is one Lawgiver"
has, since the day of its writing, defied all intel-
lects, except those too little trained and taught
to know how much it means.

You and I forget God's scale, and cannot
measure it when we remember it.

God's scale is measured by His love and life,
and ages are not too long for Him to wait to
fit and prepare whole races of men for the end-
less eternity.


God often sends pain to warn: He must at
times permit it to be wrung from Him by human
whim. He often uses it, from the patience of
sufferers who preach patience in a sick-room,
or under cruel wrong, through the lives of mar-
tyrs old and new, rising, ever rising, in the scale
of privilege and power till the strange mystery
of sanctified suflPering man comes nearest to God
at the foot of the Cross.

The truth is, suffering is a dialect of earth



which everybody understands. It is a universal
sign language.

There is an office for suffering, evidently, in
the greatest of Hves which completes where other
things had failed.


The great Teacher always makes distinct His
own purpose, but He satisfies no curiosity.

We can own Christ's teaching is too much
for us, and be all the more devout if we still
hold fast to Him.


The missing link, the missing agent of transfer
in some life this minute is precisely your own
heart, into which Christ in mercy came to dwell:
and you forgot that the only possible way to
keep Him there was to help Him pass to some-
body else.


There is no more Christian instinct than to
give. The people who are so constituted that
they cannot give gladly, and from a pure motive,
and with a pure aim, are the most pitiable
people on all this earth.



He meant not only to help the receiver, but
to educate the giver. No man or woman ever
reaches what Christ meant until they feel the
reaction upon themselves of what they have, in
Christ's Name, done for another.


I have the fullest sympathy with patient stu-
dents of God's word when difficulties arise, be-
cause we fall into two very easy difficulties
without knowing it. First, we do not distinguish
between the men who did these things recorded
in the Bible, and the men who were inspired to
write them down. The inspiration which told
David's story in all its horror had nothing to do
with its doing. The whole Bible tells more of
the faults of good men than of bad ones, because
it tells the story as it stands, and the story is
of men like ourselves, who struggled against sin
instead of falling under it: while the hordes
who made no fight God's record has no place
for. And secondly, we forget that these poor
men fought in the dark, while we live in Jesus'
light, and we try them by our privileges. The
teaching and the help which Christ gives to-
day, and always is giving, would have been a



perfect glory of gladness to many of those poor
benighted souls, David among them. But in-
spiration warns us by hanging a light right over
the failure. All the way along you have these
lights hung over where God's own people got
out of His path.


Forgiveness is a double act, requiring one to
offer and another to receive it. It is not perfect
until it is received. God can't forgive you or me
if we do not distinctly accept His gift, not as men
sometimes carelessly go on in guilt, saying they
accept, and denying it in act. They do not accept
from their hearts, and God cannot forgive.

The very root idea of the Kingdom of God on
earth is forgiveness. All men admit that none
but God can forgive sins. Starting with that,
we want to be told that God is willing to for-
give. But to tell just that came Jesus Christ,
the Son of God.


Honesty is a beautiful thing to preach about,
but nothing preaches it Hke an honest man, or a
true woman.




How often most of us ask, "Why cannot God
give us some great sign, something which shall
lead us, tell us what to know, what to do, and
when to do it ? '* Whether we and our lives are
on a scale to justify an especial display of power
to bring some portent in heaven or some sign
on earth, I fear we do not stop to consider.
But the truth is, the world's work must be done,
if at all, in the name of God and His purposes,
by those who need not wait for some great
portent, but can fight a battle on the tiniest
hint, and the leading of some ordinary event:
can find in the wind in the tops of the trees
the messages of God's army near at hand, can
find in the ordinary events of life the sound of
the moving of His hosts, the hint of when His
battle must be fought, and where and how.


It is the characteristic of the ideal man, as
described in Scripture, that he may be traced
within tiny lines as well as on broad ones.




My friend, I care not who you are, if your
life is worth having, be you man or woman,
adult or child, nay, whether others count your
Hfe useful or useless, what either you already
crave, or for what you may well ask our God,
is just the coming of some strange power which
can and will give you back a step lost in the
dreadful labyrinth of Hfe; and some hand great
and strange enough to push back the shadow
which threatens to fall with its chill upon the
next eventful steps of your life.


Civilization walks a stately splendid figure
through the ages, and points here and there to
triumphs which only the wildest ignorance would
forget, or dull, stupid prejudice attempt to be-
little: but she must turn her back and try to
forget many a sad page in her story, where the
weaker, suffering few made only material for
the gain of the after-coming many. At last
civihzation has to measure by the mass, she has
to think in mighty numbers, she has to lay down
human life over and over to make her awful



highway to some vantage ground which she can
take and hold.

The Christian Church has a message for civili-
zation and its march which we forget to deliver.
Jesus Christ stands before the great advancing
column! He does not say the individual must
never be made to suffer, He does not say time
will never come when the feebler must go under:
His own awful life showed where the purest and
best must be laid down in the pathway of any
gain for men which should come: His own life
is itself the law of sacrifice for God and good.
But He speaks, for all this, and says, "It is not
the will of my Father that one of these little
ones should perish." When men forget even one,
they have failed God's own awful will. May not
the Church message in this day, as in many,
be this warning lest men forget the rights, in
God's unchanging will, not only of the few, but
of each.f^


Not every trust is a robber's cave, nor every
union of trade: not every man or woman
hounded by social gossip is a guilty one: not
every one who declines to give as you and I



demand holds his means defiant of God — but
men in power would use power wisely, men in
place honor God with their hfe, men and women
of means would hold wealth and serve God
therewith, each would far beyond his dream
influence well human estimate of it, each would
as well have reason to thank God if, amidst
the glory and power of gladness, we could have
God's value of a human soul.


"Charity, charity, charity" has become almost
the cry of this day in many mouths, and men
who use it seem honestly to feel that they are
being charitable because they exact it of others.
The charge of narrowness against the Church
may, but may not, prove the guilt of the Church
— and it may call for inquiry if the demand
does not come from those ignorant of charity
themselves. I may look twice before I own that
it is "charity" which is so harshly asking for


You cannot give dollars for appearance sake
and for food, and pennies to Christ, without



teaching your children that you yourselves and
that indulgence are more important than Christ
and His truth. It is not mine to tell you where
to give, or what: but it is mine to tell you that
in your giving or withholding, you yourselves
are expanding the Hfe, the soul, the great
God-made, Christ-redeemed character of your
children to God^s awful measure; or you be-
little them to the dwarfs of this Hfe.


How many of us worship through sense? We
say, "It made me feel so good'': and that may
be a very great blessing provided it made you
honest and pure and true. What Moses was
getting in the mount was a law of right, while
the people were getting a worship to make them
feel good. Feeling is a very blessed thing
where based on honest conviction: and it is a
very transitory and treacherous thing when it is
simply the indulgence of a sensation. Truth
can be carried into minds on the wave of God-
given song, into which it never else could enter.
But the waves of sound may go in, and leave
the truth outside. Let us thank God that feel-



ing is a privilege, not a gauge of faith or Chris-
tian life either.


People gazed at Paul when they found he
was a Christian, and they always will gaie at a
sure enough Christian, trying to be kind and


Ridicule, potent and dangerous in every day,
finds an easy target in orthodoxy and Christian
dogma and theological controversy: and all
these are often legitimate marks, they are often
tiny, narrow and unreasonable, shutting out
from God's church men whom angels will wel-
come in heaven. But ridicule may ask and take,
in the name of hberality, what God meant to be
power in your heart and hfe. "One church is
as good as another'' is a cry with which I have
no possible sympathy, and many who use it
would not if they only stopped to think. Let
us guard a little. Men if worth anything are
apt to be narrow — you and I are so.




While throwing into your hfe all the energy,
all the cleverness, all the earnestness, all the
quickness and aptness of which you are capable,
yet let the Christ make captive of your selfish-
ness — there where temptation comes to taint
your name, and make gain of your honor,
though the world would say it is just, yet con-
science tells you it is not clean: there where
custom sets up one standard, and your sense of
honor another. And while you may never think
it, men will know and say, yes, and thank God
for it, that you are God's captive in the train of
Christ, moving always, as it does, up toward
the throne of Love and Right.


There was a strange man, upon whom the
great Paul set his dreadful judgment as useless,
unfit for the Church's work: but of whom he
later writes, "Bring him here, he is useful," and
of whom the world now is content to say simply,
"The Gospel according to Saint Mark" — only
an attendant to Paul, only pen-man to Peter,
only an evangelist to the Christ. Could Paul



then have imagined that his once rebuked servant
might one day stand in the world's count equal
to himself in the Lord's service ? Never. Every-
body knows now, and knew then, that this hesi-
tating boy was far inferior to Paul in force of
character. So be it, but simply serving where
God put him, he stands to-day well ranked:
he was "useful" to Paul, he is useful to us.


Of all things on this earth, that over which
parents may watch with bated breath, and
friends must watch with wise caution, nay,
that over which the great Christ tells us the
angels of God linger to watch and hear, is the
choice which a human being makes in the solemn
hour of a life decision. Toward what? toward
whom? and with whom? There is nothing more
solemn in this world than the deciding choice of
a human life.


"Show US His love!" Now comes the Master's
answer to PhiHp, "Who hath seen me (seen with
deep spirit-sight, seen as the mind and heart



see) who hath seen ME hath seen the Father."
That Hfe is love, that is its power to-day, and
always has been; its knowledge within its avowed
range is faultless, and its sacred Hand touched
the secret places of nature's force; but its power,
past all debate, is LOVE.


Not all are indifferent, let alone irreverent:
and long past the point where human judgment
will allow that men reverence the Almighty,
doubtless the Father's eye and ear recognize
both service and prayer.

In God's own estimate there may be more
individuals in this world than you and I know,
whose powers of a whole life rank, in the arithme-
tic of Jesus Christ, for more than ten thousand
men armed for battle.


A marvellous age it is that has found new
inventions for everything except one — that is
to make men recognize and DO RIGHT. You
must go back nineteen hundred years to get the
best means for that.




You need every help you can get. The hin-
drances to your Father's approach are many,
but, hallowed by Christ and His Spirit, your
Church, your work, your home are all mediums
through which God is borne to you.

If you do not want God for anything but a
speculation, then you will have Him as a specu-
lation. If you want God for the patron saint of
a debating society, for that you will have Him,
and He will be nothing for you to live by or
die by. But if you seek to go to God, if your
act of approach is one of worship, with or with-
out form, under stress of duty, or impulse of
delight, then the Almighty God comes to you.




Pilgrims of the night we often must be, but
pilgrims of darkness we need none of us ever be.

Joy is a glad word. But joy can do what
hilarity can never do, it can live and grow in
quiet hours.


Why do you so often wonder and stop and
argue when the pulpit only repeats our Master's
warning that the secret of peace and quiet and
prosperity in the whole moral world is simply
FAITH in our fellow-men, come of Faith in the
great government of God?


Until the Lord Jesus, men had theorized about
the ideal right. The Lord lived it until He
could say, "I am the Way," and served it with-
out a break until the keenest doubt struggles
to the point of nonsense in its effort to find one
fault in Kim or His life.


A good friend complained, "The Lord told me
not to let my left hand know what my right
hand was doing." I answered, "By all means.
What I want you to do is to let your right hand
know what it is not doing. The Lord has no
objection to that."

The tiniest act of kindness which you do will
be burned into memories never to be effaced on
earth: and we have the promise that they will
not be forgotten in heaven.


How far has your life or mind helped to bring
in the true light which will show people what is
fault, and what is right.? How far does each in
his life or hers make at once distinct the differ-
ence between the fool and the noble, and make
the life of the one repellent, and the life of right
attractive, and make it possible? A human
being is to be a hiding place. You, man or
woman, God means you to be, not a minister
of torture ruling in cruelty those in your home,
or, by your gossip, those who are your neigh-
bors: but the light from your life to be such as



to make them seek you, as a rebuke if you please,
but a rebuke which shall be a shelter, a some-
thing which shall draw to you and away from
wrong. God wants you to be a man or woman
who, by His infinite grace, broods day and night
planning for that which in God's sight shall
indeed be noble, and draw to your side those
weary of wrong, tired by trial, longing for purer
light, and hoping for better life. The office is
not easy, the office is hard. One must be strong
to do it, yet it may not be strength of body,
and not always strength of mind. The Prophet
says nothing of these: but it must be strength
which is moral, and strength which is spiritual:
a life which distinctly takes hold on, and draws
from that great after Ideal which the Prophet
foresaw, the hope of an empire in its day of
danger, and the help of the humble home in
the hour of its heartache and sorrow. No
foolish apologies, no idle excuses, no belittling
wrong and its evil, its power of cruelty and
hurt, no hiding of the difficulties of following
the right, and yet distinctly somehow a "shelter"
man or a "shelter" woman in the storm of an
angry home, or that pitiless beating of the sleet
stones of popular scandal. No one ever filled



that office without something more than a tax
on patience. They are people who somehow
have themselves suffered. The sacrifice of ease,
the sacrifice of amusement, the sacrifice of in-
dulgence, the putting aside of self is absolutely-
essential. Nobody ever successfully preached
down wrong and preached up right without it.


We speak of our pleasure: do we ever dream
that God Himself may have it?

To Him the sweetest tribute is human love.


For anyone, the power to lift others is the only
power which lifts us: as we lift others we are
lifted. Those who are most truly "men-lifters"
are themselves lifted with the rise of their own
aid to others, to places from which men will
never pull them down.


I know no more tremendous thought than
that God Almighty can trust a human soul, and
that that soul may be my own self.



If we could have wise faith in men, in good,
in Christ, in love, in Hfe and hope and God,
then we would not waste our time over conun-
drums in the inspired records of God's dealing
with men. The man who has dug up the secrets
of the day when Abraham emigrated, or David
reigned, or Hosea preached, may well instruct
me, or turn robber to plunder me of faith: but
he is not my shepherd to whom my heart must
answer, nor ever can be.


It takes both right provision and right request
to make up the well-ordered house, and to change
a mere living-spot into a home.

The bond of parent and child on earth is most
like the life in heaven.

The parent in whose eyes his child is not sacred
is a parent whose child is not safe.


There was Judas to begin with. St. Peter lied
on the night of the trial: and in every age since,



the Lord's foes have been the hypocrites of His
own house. But the Church has grown, and that
among people to whom she has had nothing to
offer but the help of Christ to be true and clean
and pure and kind.

From Judas' treason to the last frail soul who
has brought shame to the sacred ministry, the
Spirit has been giving His highest lesson of
love, not to and through angels, but to and
through men — frail men and women, whose
first initiation into the mighty company is the
forgiveness of sins, and the last blessing is the
forgiveness of sins, — Peter in his failure, Paul
in his hate, popes and kings, peasants and cot-
tagers, led by the Spirit to serve the Christ, and
know the blessing of forgiveness.


If we are ever to bear witness for God, if we
are ever to carry, not send, a life message, it
must be because in and through just these tiny
duties of life we show, in daily walk and con-
versation at home, and outside of home as we
go in and out among our fellows, our secret re-
sistless life power, given us by the grace of God.
It is just in our hourly living that we must



exercise, if ever, our influence, and come into
personal touch with those who know not Christ,
and have not His Life: and impart by actual
life-touch the power which He has given us.


Have you made Christ your Teacher? I do
not mean have you somehow caught the higher
Christian ideas of truth and right, of home love,
and home Hfe? all this may have come as
leaven comes to dough. I do not mean do you
recognize the protecting power of Christian
civilization? Doubtless you do. So do birds
hide in a tree: but we want more than a yeast
and bird-Hke Christianity. Have you made Christ
yours? If this Man is to be your Teacher, you must
give up what you have, just so far as it hinders
Him. "I have nothing antagonistic to Christ."
Yes, you have, or He would be yours now.

I do not for a moment doubt the leaven-like
influence of Christianity upon us all: I know it
in my own case and in yours — the ease with
which, bird-like, we chatter in its branches — but
have we made this Man our Leader in such
sense that our obligation is as a subject to his
King, and a soldier to his Captain?



HE is to be the Leader, HE is treasure, field,
pearl, all — yes, it is a very mixed metaphor,
but it is a very clear truth.


Great indeed the doing on the part of man,
but infinite the giving on the part of God!

Service amounts to little if as we serve God,
God does not serve us! If Christ has ever done
you a service, then, my friend, you may be
sure of one thing, it cost you much when He
did it! He did not take your all, but it seemed
like it at the time. Down went all interest and
care for anything else, but just then the Christ!
this strange Teacher, did for you a service, which
none else could do — He did it by His strange
hope, perhaps, and did it by a still more strange
power of human sympathy, mingled with in-
finite divine love. But your barter? what was
that? Down and away went pride, and self-will,
and you did what you never did before, you
prayed! It was by heart answering heart: and
that is prayer.



There is no sadder duty than the inevitable
and dreadful decision which must sometimes be
made, where one knows every just and unjust,
every good and evil, prejudice in the human
life is roused; and decide as one will, he knows
he must leave some one for whom he has the
kindest good-will on the other side of the line
from himself. But there is one truth, — no man

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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 4 of 10)