James Houston Eccleston.

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

. (page 6 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 6 of 10)
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Our forgiveness of others is the gauge of how
far God's stream of forgiving love has risen in
our own hearts.

It is not my forgiving someone else which
makes my salvation: Christ's life and death
did all that: and my forgiving others is because
the stream of love pushes me on to do just
that, among much else.

In God's name, keep the stream of His mighty
grace and salvation rushing through your lives
till you can forgive all mankind! and God and
angels see that you do it from no weariness
and weakness of nature, nor cowardly fear that
you may lose some favor!


By perfect work he means the best of which
each is capable. There is a perfection of God
which is ideal perfection; there is a perfection
of Christ which is complete perfection; and
there is a perfection of St. John which is far
above anything of which you and I are capable.



But there is a perfection of human beings which
is simply and only the best of which men and
women are capable. And God knows, as no
one else can know, that of which we are capable:
I never expect to be a saint, as men call it.
nor does God ask it. I know not why men
insist upon a standard which God has not set.
But I do ask that I may have His Spirit to keep
me under, that wherewith He shall lead me
to what is my possibility of soul life. The very
best of which Peter and Paul and John and the
Baptist, and Jesus, were capable was patience^
come of prayer, and power, this moment beyond
any names known to men on earth!


The Kingdom of God admits the standard of
neither myself nor of the one who has harmed
me. There is but one standard, and that is the
standard of Jesus Christ. The Christian man,
I don't mean the mere professor, but one who
accepts Jesus, may regret and deplore the failure
of right in himself or in others, but at the risk
of sacrilege he may not dare to change the stand-
ard. He may ask for forbearance in judgment:



but he has no right to apologize for wrong.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness.


If there is anywhere to be found a clear truth,
I beUeve it to be that God does inspire nations.
But is it only the nation? God speaks to
some men in a way to lift them clear up and
beyond their race-inspiration. Doubtless the
pulpit has loaded on to Scripture what the Spirit
never taught: mistaken men have claimed in-
spiration which came not from the Spirit of
Truth — admit it all, but do not tell us that the
Almighty never breathed into and through one
man truth which He did not, and never meant
to, breathe into any other soul, a message from
the God of power. Doubtless, mind you, when
the Spirit chose this man. He took one whom He
had placed in the midst of a long, wise, faithful
race-training, a man who could not come any-
where else: but then breathed through his
heart and life what He trusted to no one else.
Stretch them as He stretches the peaks of
eternal snows, at the longest intervals: but leave
us these in-breathed heroes!




Between the soul, however conscious of offense,
and the Almighty Judge of us all, there is a
peace offered. If one is too indifferent to ask
it, or so proud as to deny it, or so persistent as
to defy it, he does not destroy it for other
people, he only robs himself.

"But, how can it be peace, if I am not con-
scious of it.^" It is more important that the
Almighty should realize there is peace between
Him and us than that we should. Our salva-
tion depends upon His knowledge of peace. But
our happiness depends upon our knowledge of
it. There are many saved Christians who are
not happy Christians, and many pardoned prodi-
gals who still insist upon serving for wages,
and some who cHng even to the bondage of
slaves, children in the Father's house, forgiven
and welcomed, and can't believe it!


We cannot command joy, we cannot pursue
it, we cannot even grasp it when it comes of
itself; it follows, or it never comes at all. It is
a resultant, never an aim of life. It is a re-



ward, but never a purpose in life. It is the gift
of God if it come.


There have always been the two teachings,
God's presence, and the effort to make men
feel it: God's absence, and the effort to order
life on God's absence. It is not nominal be-
lief we are after, it is to realize, and make men
realize, God's presence. Adam believed in God,
there is nothing new in the union of belief and
disobedience: but men need to know that if
they do not meet God under the tree of knowl-
edge, then they must meet Him as He walks
with them later in the cool of the day, when
they are trying to hide from His presence and
the effects of guilt, and contempt of His rule.


Let men say what they will, ** admiration"
is exactly what they have for that body of faulty
human beings known as the Church of the living
God, the blessed company of all faithful people!
The Lord is not unreflected in our midst. The
ages praise God for Christ and His redeemed
ones. Not all such lives are written for men's



eyes to read, but the life lies calmly in the
vision of the Lord, and He and His see Him
therein! You may think your life too tiny to
reflect, or be watched. But a very small mirror
held at a proper angle will let you examine the
greatest temple on earth: and a mirror in a
telescope will bring to you the largest body in
the heavens above us. If lives were measured
as to scale, not many would have picked out as
a large one the widow in the temple: but Christ
said that she had reflected the very glory of
God in her lowly self-denial and humble gift
to Him!


How many lives run through a dreary round
of days and years and never have any praise!
Some man carries his hod, drags his drudgery,
ends his day, collects his earnings, goes to his
home, eats, sleeps and rises to toil again, each
day like the last. Some woman goes through
the round of her toil, faulty doubtless at many
points, and the fault promptly found and men-
tioned, if not in her home, then outside it: but
where approval has been earned, it has never
been spoken, and each day comes and goes like
the last. The saddest part is that in all such



cases, it never occurs to anyone that any right
has failed in Ufe. Drudging man, toihng woman,
nowhere anyone ever hinted they had any right
to praise. Bad enough in these weary walks
and toils, but this is true of life in a far higher
sphere, the day comes and the day goes! Some-
times censure is escaped, but at any point —
praise? Would a man resent it, does a woman's
heart desire it? Yes, many a one is heart-
hungry for it. And what disgusts rightminded
men is flattery, which assumes to distribute
what only discriminating love and right thought
and good conscience have a right to give. The
thoughtless flinging broadcast of words of ap-
proval, conveying anything from a modicum of
truth to a pack of society Hes, is one thing;
right approval of a right action is another.
Applause may be given by a crowd, fame may
come from the many, but praise must come from
one who has the right to bestow it, for right
action done or attempted. It rises in its scale,
from parent to child, from kindest friend, hus-
band, or wife, leader or ruler, on up till at last
it rests where best it belongs, in the heart and
word of the truest Friend, incapable of mislead-
ing; each shall have his praise of God.



Use God's light to find God's way.

God's light cannot lie.

God knows that your life and mine are limited,
that we are after all very small people, very
hum-drum ordinary folk, living very matter-of-
fact, unpoetic lives. But His flood of light will
show exactly our heart-life, it will show Him
whether we do honestly and earnestly turn to
God, and wish for Him and work for Him. It
will show whether or not the ruling desire, the
chief wish of that heart is to serve Him!


The climax of a world's Hfe and a Church's
battle is not to be what we have gained or lost,
or a counting table to tell us what we have
given, or the number of our prayers, or the
record of our deeds, though the Judge will know
them all. But the climax will be words, spoken
to one who held a single trust, which had gained
for God's treasury. Christ's praise is this,
** Well done!"



We need to measure carefully the words, "He
scourges every son whom he receives." It is
some frightful minute in your lives, when if
you don't say it, others will say it for you,
"What on earth has he done? Why should
this come to him?" Nine times out of ten
God never did, and never could command the
event. God never built the image of Nebu-
chadnezzar to be worshipped. He did not light
the fires of the furnace, but He let the Three
Children of captivity go through them, that the
bands which heathenism had wound round them
might be burned off. When the bands are burned
off, we walk toward all that goes for God and

God's fires burn, but they do not destroy.


Reverence for your fellow-man is only the man-
ward reach of the same blessed cord which binds
you to the very throne and heart of God.


"I have called you friends." The personal
touch, friend to friend, heart to heart, the close



confidence by which the secret purpose is told
and explained, motives are laid bare, aims are
made plain; and when then some great man
dies, the one nearest to him in his hfe of thought
is chosen to tell what he was. They talked
freely, they communed closely, the Teacher
found a willing heart and an open ear, the con-
fidence and affection of friendship. And ever
as the pupil listens, he grows nearer His Teacher,
learns Him better, and rises in the scale of Hfe
and work. So have lesser men gone out ever
to carry to the multitude the treasures received
at the hands of the great and good. Here in
these words the Lord puts the truth that there
are those who come to Him in the intimacy of
friendship, and gain more of the knowledge of
their Lord than others can have. The very
secret of heaven is with them; with them there
is no theorizing on fine-spun lines, for right is
with them the eternal, unchanging, essential will
and nature of the holy and pure God over all.


The reason why Scripture is written is plainly
to appeal to men and women here. It is of
this life and its possibilities that we are taught.



This world, this awful and majestic life, so little
with annoyance, so majestic with duty, so try-
ing with temptations, so magnificent with ser-
vice, so narrow with self, so wide with love, is
the house and home where was God's nursery
and school and workhouse for the ideal Man
who lived on heaven's lines to save man from
his sins.


Drive men back to an honest expression of
an honest thought, and you will find them con-
tending for behef in the true, pure and holy

I know men believe God is good, however
they wonder amid the trying events of human
life: and I know they believe because the good
Christ has lived and served and died.


Truly humble men, humble under the mighty
hand of God, because that is mighty, are not
cowardly, they are brave! Brave as He was,
who before Pilate, hard representative of all the
great world-power of the day, yet "witnessed
His good confession " ! And oh ! for the day when



you and I may, by His grace, be humble and
brave because He was, and as He was!


I may do right, and be right, and be as hard
as iron: but if I am to be kind, I must some-
times ignore the wrong in those whom I would
help. No censorious kindness, which insults
with its reproof while trying to help with alms,
but the kindness such that even God's hand can
write before it "loving"!

What is not kind is not useful: what is useful
is kind: and what is both useful and kind is


Suppose some life ordinarily as wide as the
play hours of social Hfe will allow, wide with
feast and song and merry-making, is suddenly
narrowed and kept within the ordered limits of
a deep, crushing sorrow. I may send a kind
note of sympathy — better that than nothing;
I may send flowers to do their kindly errand of
good-will. But by God's rare privilege, I may
be able to narrow my life and draw it quite
within the sombre Hmits of my friend's grief.



Then, only then, have I got within his Hfe. I
look around within his narrowed circle. I crowd
my else wider life in his. But in all these cases,
if the one coming from without, by the magic,
power of love, has really gained an entrance
and not merely a presence, in the man's life,
then he brings all the wider life of love and hope
which is in his own. Precisely this was the
miracle of Jesus* ministry! He came into the
life of those who would let Him in, and comes!


The world is always jealous of its actual ser-
vants. But they last longest who out of a con-
sistent life into which themselves have been
saved and hfted, thereafter tell most truly and
wisely the curse of evil with its killing power,
and with it the blessing of good and its immortal


There lacks not intellectual power in the
Christian pulpit, let men say what they will;
but the power of the pulpit is never in intellect,
it is when we come into your lives and lay be-
fore you, not some hint of our own, or some dis-



covery of our own making, but some blessed
message from Christ, delivered in His own
words !

Christ's intellect silenced Pharisees and Sad-
ducees: Christ's love saved an outcast!


Salvation is at last the thought of God! But
one answers "I cannot think it." I mean no
disrespect, my brother, I mean just the oppo-
site, when I say. You can't help thinking it!
God may have dragged you with no wrench at
the gate of Damascus, but God has poured
over the soil of your Hfe dews of love and grace:
and He has flung about the roots of your life
holy truths, and up through every tendril have
gone these strange marvels of loving grace till
it is fairly ingrained in your whole mental
structure! Let the Christ-thought do its work:
no glare of light will be needed, but deep past
all harming will grow the cluster whence may-
hap angel hands (you may think, in sorrow;
God will know it is in love) will press out the
wine of God's service in all of mind and all of
life. One greater than you needed the wine-
press ere the blood of the grape came to be the



wine of the children's feast. God only knows
when your Hfe shall yield that which will make
glad the heart of angels and of God, for all
heaven is roused to save a sinning soul!


Do you not find sometimes, as you read some
book, or hear some word, that there floats up
from your heart a sigh, a sort of wish, an im-
pulse to do something good for others? and then
it dies away only an impulse! Or it goes on to
a resolution to do this or that, to be more reg-
ular at service, more careful in reading, to try
to help someone. All are good, all are good
clear water from a pure spring: and they run
off unused! Does such experience suggest a
Christ-converted will.? The will converted hy
Christ is surely converted to Him. If Christ
had touched those impulses, they would have
been turned into some good act.


Who would ever hunt for a hero of love in a
skin-flint money-getter? Jesus found him hid
in a tree overhanging the road. "Come down,



Zacchaeus, I will dine with thee." He converted
the meanest of men, converted will into act,
selfishness into kindness, ill-doing into restora-
tion, and ill-gotten gain into service of God!


That was a long, sad record of people, stretch-
ing back through forty years of wandering life,
people who never knew home. Egypt was the
driver's pen: Palestine was never reached;
tented they lived, tented they died. How many
ever learned of the eternal thought and care
and love which made up God, and made Him
home? And many a poor soul through the
years gone has toiled as they did, some in wide
houses and some in narrow cottages, some wan-
derers, and some tied to a tiny place, their
record is done: how much was home here.^
How much was home when they slept eternal
sleep? How many of us will let the Spirit of
all Truth teach us that God the eternal is the
only Home for immortal lives?


What your meditation for ideal man may be
is one thing: God's ideal is Jesus Christ.



Very old is the Hebrew poet's figure of wan-
derers from God's care, "All we like sheep had
gone astray," — Httle children out over the wide
plain, the wide desert of life, dreaming and
wandering, seeking we know not what, this
man for his rude ideal of God, impatient of re-
buke for his folly; that one gone out over some
foolish pathway to indulge an old-time hate,
which can last but for a night-watch: this
one to heap up some gain, hardly honest,
and soon to be dust: another to indulge some
sad, fooUsh habit, ruining life and all ideal
thereof, till it is done and rebuked: and the
best of us out here, out there, dreaming our own
dreams, careless, ignorant or neglecting the
great ideal dream — while out after us comes the
patient, never-failing Shepherd to draw us back.


"My meat is to do my Father's will." That
is God's dream of man! Can we reach it? Not
in this life. But to follow it is His call to us.
Nay, that is God's dream for you! To think
His thought, try for His aim, believe His truth,



love His right. Time itself has been too short
for the best of poor human stuff to reach that:
but time, if counted as God teaches, is long
enough to begin to do it.


We fault our Father when our plans fail,
when for plenty we have need; for love, a quar-
rel; for power, humihation; for indulgence, dis-
appointment; but why fault Him? These are
our dreams, they are not His. His dream is
His ideal thought, that through all eternity you
may think and trust and hope and learn and
love and strive, you may live in Christ, and your
life be hid with Him in God.


To help poor, timid men; to aid an affrighted
conscience; to try to make the battle easier,
men have tried to put men feeble as we are
between us and God. Priests of false religions,
and priests on false ground in the true one, have
all been marshalled in somehow between our-
selves and our God. "Come," they say, "come
to us, we will absolve you, we will pray for you,



we will direct you." Let us thank God that men
may pray for other men, may tell by warrant
of Christ Himself that sin is forgiven of God
upon repentance, that they may give all the aid
of earnest, devoted, loving sympathy in the
struggle against sin and wrong, — let us thank
God for all this great human aid. And then let
us thank God that at last there comes a mo-
ment when there is not even an angel of heaven
between the soul which strives and fights and
wins and the God who pities and sustains and


There comes some awful, deep mystery, where
the soul feels the very breath of God: some
moment of struggle, when there stands with us
none save Him who stood with the children in
the fiery furnace. Not the weary, dreary, ever-
repeating story of temptation and sin, but the
strange, ever-newer life come back from the
lost day, the life of God in our own soul, to make
us overcome!




I do not remember a single passage in which
the gracious Lord ever rebukes amusement as
such. I do not remember one sentence in which
men are warned to keep out of one place, and
enter another. He was Himself a guest at feasts,
and owned that He laid Himself open to be
charged by indiscriminating criticism with being
a wine-bibber and a glutton. But the one
passage where He ever spoke in terms akin to
contempt of men, was when He charged child-
ishness because men complained He would not
change to suit their varying whims, now of gloom,
and then of play! No man wants a trifler near
him. It is not that some one indulgence may
be in itself harm; nor is it that this place is
right, and that one wrong — it is hard to mark
places safely. But it is not hard to see why a
mind and soul and Hfe filled with self — indulged
fault, or ruled by play, never can take hold of
the reality of Hfe!




No one has quite so much power to sHde a
hint into your mind as the companion who
shares your relaxation. You won't allow him
to preach, but you can't hinder a suggestion
which may stay with you till you are dead. Oh!
it is a weary truth, full of tired and tiring
sounds, that nowhere from Eden to the fairest
hillside of to-day can the watch against the
power of the tempter be for one moment relaxed.
Watch, Watch, always Watch! is the tiresome


I do not say, "Always go to Church." I say
this, "Don't relax conscience in anything, least
of all in holy things." The Holy Day itself,
and holy words, especially those of your Bible
and Prayer-Book, are things which suffer most
in the easy talk of a summer hotel, and still
worse in some hospitable country-seat.

My friend, I ask no following of my theories
of Sabbath sanctity, and no guard of my poor
making against subtle error and cunning wrong,
be it for moments of haste, or the lazy hour of



needed rest. I do pray, as God gives me, that
when honest appeals of honest pulpit men and
true are done, your blessing may be that of
the men at the Transfiguration, to "see no
man, save Jesus only."


A fault grown indistinct through long knowl-
edge is pretty sure to become a fault which we
make no efFort to contend and mend.

Somehow an avoided duty has a way of get-
ting back to find the one who dodged.


You may have your ideal, and you may not
have reached Christ's ideal for you. Yours would
make you in every way a respectable man:
but Christ in your life would make you a Chris-
tian man. If at any point you have found the
ideal where you are content to rest, then, hard
as is the word, I tell you now the message of
Jesus Christ has never reached you: and when
it does, its first work will be to tear away any
such idol, and fling it by some kind harshness,
crumbling in dust at your feet.




It was the frightened privilege of Peter and
James and John to go to the Mount of the
Transfiguration, and there be face to face with
the glory divine. Now, it is yours, as much as
theirs. Stay there as long as you can: hallow
each thought: sanctify every imagination: de-
vote every power to God and His work: be with
Him and claim as a right, for right it is, that
there shall be between you and God not even
Moses and Elias, not even law and prophecy,
nothing "save Jesus only."


How many homes would be far happier, if
instead of some dream-life, which never can
come and never ought to come, men and women,
boys and girls, could learn that they would be
most men and women, most near the great ideal,
when the awful thought of our God in His care
was just to keep us in that way where He has
put us — some little duty, very tiresome, but
worthy an angel's thought to help you to do it:
some drudgery, the man at his desk, the boy at



his toil, be it what it may. And every man of
any power must ever see just beyond him some
aim higher far than he now reaches, since Hfe
is on God's scale, and not on ours. Be like
Christ in the willingness to believe that God
cares most to see us where He has put us.


There is not a soul in all this world, who
believes in Jesus Christ at all, or any part of
His gracious ministry, who does not feel that,
contradictory to human dreams of idle indul-
gence as it may all be, yet at last the one spot
on earth where to us all Heaven is nearest to
earth, is precisely the Cross of the Lord at


I cannot and do not speak to you, unless you
know in actual life something of the intensity
of the struggle of this world. If life is so easy
you know none of its trials, and so fair you
know no gloom, and so even you have been
dragged over no rough ways: if sin is so hidden
that you know it only as speculation or annoy-

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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 6 of 10)